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A look back at 2012

(Editor’s Note: The following holiday greeting from the BLET Executive Committee has been excerpted from the upcoming Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen News.)

CLEVELAND, December 21 — Looking back, it’s hard to believe the members of your Executive Committee and Advisory Board were sworn less than two years ago, on January 1, 2011. The past 24 months have flown by and events have unfolded so quickly that it feels like just yesterday. The year 2011 went by in a blur, and 2012 was no different.

We began 2012 with ratification of our national agreement, then we quickly shifted our focus to on-property negotiations at Union Pacific. That was followed by agreements at numerous other railroads, including: Great Western Railway of Colorado; Eastern Idaho Railroad; Grand Trunk Western; Connecticut Southern; Ohio Central/Columbus & Ohio River Railroad; New York, Susquehanna & Western; and Montana Rail Link. Additionally, our Amtrak Brothers and Sisters approved a new agreement in January.

We also activated our National Mobilization network for the all-important November elections. Much time was spent in advance of the election using the network to mobilize a large turnout of voters on November 6. Even though we as an Organization endorsed specific candidates for office, the objective of our mobilization event was to get out the vote — regardless of the candidates. Voting is an important right for all Americans and it was gratifying to see so many BLET members exercising that right this year.

The War on Workers, unfortunately, remained a dominant theme throughout 2012. Our Brothers and Sisters in Michigan were on the front lines in December to protest “right-to-work” legislation that was hammered through by a lame duck state legislature. This legislation permits freeloaders to enjoy the wage and benefit fruits of collective bargaining without making any financial contribution toward making and enforcing contracts, and causes union members to pay higher dues than they should. A few months earlier, legislators in Indiana passed similar anti-union legislation to make their state a “right-to-work” (for less) state. Members of the BLET were among the thousands of pro-American, pro-union, and pro-middle class protestors on the front lines in both Michigan and Indiana, making their voice heard loud and clear against the divisive legislation.

Our successful “Proud to be American, Proud to Be Union” campaign was embraced by the membership in 2012 and has helped to increase pride in our Organization while elevating the public’s view of our Brotherhood. This campaign will continue in the months to come. We also will use our BLET publications to highlight other proud American unions and the goods and services they provide, thereby helping our members to make choices as consumers to support American-made, Union-made products.

Countless hours were spent in Washington, D.C. in 2012, closely monitoring proposed changes to laws or regulations that might negatively impact locomotive engineers and trainmen. Much time also was spent lobbying on behalf of legislation to improve our rights and working conditions, while fighting against efforts to chip away at the regulatory protections we have secured over the years. The issue of whistleblower rights came to the forefront in 2012, after years of struggle to better protect rail workers who report unsafe workplace conditions. The wheels of justice sometimes move slowly, and it took many years to secure these new whistleblower protections. It is our hope that these whistleblower rights will help to one day finally stamp out management’s harassment and intimidation of our members.

Also throughout 2012, the members of your Executive Committee were privileged to attend numerous Brotherhood meetings, including important Division, State Legislative Board and General Committee of Adjustment meetings. Our Division Officers, State Legislative Board Chairmen and General Chairmen are some of the hardest working officers in all of Rail Labor and they deserve our thanks and appreciation.

And as the year draws to a close, your Executive Committee would like to take the time to thank you for your participation in our great Brotherhood. Let us take time during this holiday season to pause, catch our collective breaths, and reenergize ourselves for the coming year. Please take the time to focus on the important things in life — your health and your family and friends. Your BLET Executive Committee wishes each and all nothing but the best during this holiday season and in the coming New Year.

Fraternally,

Dennis R. Pierce
National President

E. Lee Pruitt
First Vice President

William C. Walpert
National Secretary-Treasurer

Friday, December 21, 2012
bentley@ble-t.org

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