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BLE rallies against remote controlled locomotives in Washington State

CLEVELAND, July 24 -- In temperatures over 100 degrees, locomotive engineers rallied yesterday against the use of remote control technology. The rally, held in conjunction with the BLEís International Western Convention, took place in front of the Westcoast Tri-Cities Hotel in Kennewick, Wash.

The informational protest was held in order to educate the public about the potential dangers and job losses associated with remote control locomotives.

The approximately 200 locomotive engineers were joined by members of the Grand International Auxiliary -- BLE and members of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, including Teamster Vice-President Al Hobart. The members of Teamster Local 174 (Seattle, Wash.), led by Business Agent Manny Loya, joined the rally bringing along a tractor trailer.

Along with Hobart, BLE International President Don M. Hahs, General Secretary-Treasurer William C. Walpert, International Vice-President & U.S. National Legislative Representative Raymond Holmes and International Vice-President and National Legislative Representative George Hucker also spoke to the crowd. They were joined by Kennewick Mayor Jim Beaver and Mike Roswell, Rail Safety Manager of the Washington Utilities Transportation Company.

The rally organizers were assisted by Kent Confer of the BLEís National Mobilization Team. Jeff Cheney, a member of BLE Division 236 (Portland, Ore.), and Will Amaya, IWC 2002 Chairman, were also instrumental in organizing the event.

The BLE believes that U.S. railroads could avoid potential safety hazards and improve operating efficiency by using federally-certified locomotive engineers in Remote Control Operations. Locomotive engineers are the most highly-trained, skilled and experienced employees in the railroad industry. However, the railroads insist on using employees with limited training and experience in remote control operations, while eliminating the jobs of many locomotive engineers.

Several media outlets covered the events, including the local Tri-City Herald.

Photos and video from the rally will be available soon on the BLE website.

Wednesday, July 24, 2002
bentley@ble-t.org

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