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NST Bill Walpert to retire; VP Bruno named head of BLET Safety Task Force

CLEVELAND, May 5 — BLET National President Dennis R. Pierce today announced that Vice President Stephen J. Bruno has been appointed Chairman of the BLET Safety Task Force, effective May 1, 2014. Outgoing Chairman and BLET National Secretary-Treasurer William C. Walpert has announced that he will retire effective January 1, 2015.

“Brother Walpert has been a stalwart leader of our Brotherhood for so many years and it will be difficult to replace his vast level of institutional knowledge,” President Pierce said. “I have every confidence that Brother Bruno, a dedicated Brotherhood officer and staunch safety advocate for our members, will do his utmost in his new role as Chairman of our Safety Task Force.”

Brother Walpert has served the BLET as National Secretary-Treasurer since 2004. He served as General Secretary-Treasurer of the BLET from 2001-2004, and was elected International Vice President in 1996. His retirement follows a railroad career that began in 1973 as a fireman for the St. Louis & San Francisco Railroad in Fort Worth, Texas. He has held continuous membership in the BLET since November 1, 1973. He is a member of Division 604 (Madill, Okla.).

Brother Bruno elected National Vice President by acclamation in 2010. He is a member of BLET Division 71 in Philadelphia, and is a certified locomotive engineer for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA). Immediately prior to his election as Vice President, Brother Bruno served the BLET as the Director of Regulatory Affairs. During his years of service to the Brotherhood, he served four terms as General Chairman of the SEPTA General Committee of Adjustment. He also served five terms as local chairman of Division 71.

“The STF gives the Brotherhood a formal means of presenting the locomotive engineer''''s perspective during investigations of railroad accidents,” Vice President Bruno said. “The STF is an integral part of the BLET and plays a vital role in our efforts to make the workplace safer for all railroaders. I am honored to have the privilege of leading this group of dedicated members who are called upon to perform their duties at the most difficult times and circumstances we can encounter in our careers.”

As Chairman of the Safety Task Force, Vice President Bruno will work hand-in-hand with Brother Carl W. Fields, who remains Coordinator of the STF, and also Brother Scott G. Palmer, Assistant Coordinator.

“It has been an honor and a privilege to have worked under Bill Walpert since I took over as Coordinator of the Safety Task Force in 2010,” Brother Fields said. “Under his leadership, Brother Walpert helped to expand the Safety Task Force from eight to 23 Primary Investigators, giving us the ability to better respond to incidents more quickly throughout the country. He will be truly missed. On behalf of all STF investigators, I look forward to working with Brother Bruno.”

At a special meeting during the week of April 21, members of the STF presented Brother Walpert with a commemorative brass bell and other gifts as thanks for his years of leadership.

Founded 25 years ago in 1989, the BLET Safety Task Force assists federal agencies in the investigation of rail accidents, helping to determine probable causes and making safety recommendations. STF investigators study all aspects of rail accidents, including operations and human factors, signal systems, and track structures.

“Our Safety Task Force studies accidents from the viewpoint of locomotive engineers and trainmen to help determine how particular accidents occur and how to prevent similar accidents from happening in the future,” President Pierce said. “I cannot overstate how important that is, especially in an industry that is more focused on financial balance sheets than employee safety. If we don’t look out for our own safety, who will?”

Monday, May 05, 2014
bentley@ble-t.org

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