BLETís 78th annual Southwestern Convention Meeting begins in New Orleans
NEW ORLEANS, La. ó More than 370 members of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen convened here today for opening ceremonies of the 78th annual Southwestern Convention Meeting (SWCM).
BLET National President Dennis R. Pierce thanked all participants, noting that the SWCM attendance is the highest of any of the BLETís four regional meeting this year.
After presentation of the flags by members of the New Orleans firefighters union, SWCM Arrangements Chairman Arlin S. Todd called the meeting to order. He introduced several guest speakers throughout the morning, including Nick Felton, President of New Orleans Firefighters Local 632, and John Bel Edwards, Louisiana State Representative of House District 72. Edwards is a staunch union supporter who is campaigning to be the next Governor of Louisiana.
David Grimes, Local Chairman of Division 42 (St. Louis, Mo.), led a ceremony to remember BLET members killed in the line of duty. An empty chair, as well as various tools of the engineersí craft, was placed at the front of the meeting hall to symbolize the Organizationís departed Brothers and Sisters. Brother Grimes also paid respects to Brother Brian D. Wheeler, former President of Division 42, who passed away late last year, and announced plans to establish a scholarship to honor Brother Wheelerís memory.
National President Pierce introduced members of the BLET Advisory Board and National Division staff who were in attendance. President Pierce also spoke about the Organizationís 150th anniversary and introduced a special video commemorating the historic event. The BLET celebrated its 150th anniversary on May 8, 2013, and the video highlighted many of the Organizationís most important accomplishments since 1863. The video was well received by those in attendance and is available for viewing on the National Divisionís YouTube page: http://www.youtube.com/user/BLETUnion.
Anita Caruso, National President of the BLET Auxiliary, also addressed the group and introduced the National Officers of the Auxiliary who were in attendance.
The meeting kicked off yesterday with a workshop regarding the BLET Safety Task Force and hazardous materials training. There was also a workshop regarding conductorsí certification. Members will participate in additional educational opportunities throughout the remainder of the week, including specialized training for BLET Legislative Representatives, Secretary-Treasurers and Local Chairmen. There will also be an informational presentation on the BLET health & welfare plan as well as a workshop on the BLETís national mobilization network.
The 78th annual SWCM concludes with a dinner banquet and dance the evening of August 28.
Tuesday, August 27, 2013
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