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BLETís 87th annual Southeastern Meeting Association begins in Savannah, Ga.

SAVANNAH, Ga., June 16 ó More than 200 members of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) and their families were in attendance this morning for opening ceremonies of the 87th annual Southeastern Meeting Association (SMA) in Savannah, Ga.

SMA Arrangements Chairman D.C. Dickey, his wife Patty and the members of BLET Division 646 are hosting this yearís SMA.

Brother Dickey called the meeting to order and delivered the opening prayer. He introduced Lawana Poss, SMA Auxiliary Chairperson, who presided over the annual presentation of state flags by members of the BLET Auxiliary, a tradition that dates back nearly 100 years. States flags presented in the ceremony included Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. Anita Caruso, National President of the BLET Auxiliary, carried the United States flag and later addressed the members and families in attendance.

Brother Dickey introduced Mark Wallace, General Chairman of the Norfolk Southern-Southern Lines General Committee of Adjustment, who led a ceremony to remember BLET members killed in the line of duty. An empty chair was left at the front of the meeting hall to honor the Organizationís departed Brothers and Sisters.

BLET National President Dennis R. Pierce introduced members of the BLET Advisory Board and National Division staff who were in attendance, and also acknowledged the presence of former BLET National President Paul Sorrow and former BLE International Vice President Paul Wingo. President Pierce also spoke briefly about the Brotherhoodís recent strike at SEPTA in Philadelphia.

The afternoon will conclude with a closed meeting for BLET members and open meetings for the BLET Auxiliary. Members will enjoy numerous educational opportunities throughout the remainder of the week. Workshops will feature specialized training for BLET Legislative Representatives, Secretary-Treasurers, Local Chairmen, and Division Trustees. Additional workshops will focus on the BLET national mobilization network, United Healthcare, Railroad Retirement benefits, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

The 87th annual SMA will conclude with a dinner banquet the evening of June 19.

Monday, June 16, 2014

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