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BLET opens 76th annual EUMA in Cleveland

CLEVELAND, August 6 ó Approximately 200 members of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen and their families convened here yesterday for opening ceremonies of the 76th annual Eastern Union Meeting Association (EUMA).

EUMA Chairman Mark Kenny opened the ceremonies while Arrangements Chairman Pat Redmond welcomed all members, families and guests to Cleveland on behalf of host Division 607 (Cleveland).

The Color Guard from the Naval Reserve Center of Akron presented the flags and four members of the Cleveland Firefighters Memorial Pipes & Drums played a selection of music, including Amazing Grace, in honor of BLET members past and present who have fallen in the line of duty. Sandy Blum, wife of Arrangements Co-Chairman Jim Blum, led the group in prayer while Brother Blum led the empty chair ceremony. An empty chair, as well as various tools of the engineersí craft, were 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. Many staff employees from BLET National Division headquarters were in attendance. His remarks touched upon the War on Workers and the need for solidarity in the labor movement.

EUMA Chairman Kenny then introduced Anita Caruso, National President of the BLET Auxiliary, who spoke about the important role that the Auxiliary plays in support of all BLET members throughout the United States. Brother Kenny then introduced a video greeting from U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), who welcomed BLET members to Cleveland.

Teamsters International Vice President John Murphy, who serves as Director of the Teamsters Rail Conference, brought greetings on behalf of Teamsters General President James P. Hoffa and General Secretary-Treasurer Ken Hall. He discussed the importance of high-speed rail in America including the current project in California. Vice President Murphy also described the current War on Workers as a blatant attempt to crush labor so corporations can earn more money.

Teamsters International Vice President Al Mixon was the second guest speaker at the 2014 EUMA. He noted that it has been 10 years since the BLET had merged with the Teamsters, and described how the relationship between the organizations has grown over the past 10 years, with the BLET forging stronger ties with the IBTís General Executive Board and numerous Joint Councils throughout the United States.

The third guest speaker of the morning was Walt Barrows, Labor Member of the Railroad Retirement Board. He discussed the importance of Railroad Retirement, stressing that it is not an entitlement program but a hard-earned and well-deserved benefit that has been bought and paid for by generations of railroad workers.

Brother B.J. Farkas, Local Chairman and Legislative Representative of Division 121 (Indianapolis, Ind.) took to the podium to donate his Divisionís original charter to the BLET National Division. He said the charter, which is dated 1898, had survived a fire during its 116-year history.

The afternoon concluded with a closed meeting for BLET members and open meetings for the BLET Auxiliary. Members will take advantage of numerous educational opportunities throughout the remainder of the week. Workshops will feature specialized training for BLET Legislative Representatives, Division Trustees, Secretary-Treasurers and Local Chairmen. There will also be informational presentations on the BLET health & welfare plan, the BLETís national mobilization network, hazardous materials/BLET Safety Task Force, and a session with the Federal Railroad Administration.

Next yearís EUMA will be held in Boston, Mass.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

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