138 years and going strong
Total BLE membership tops 60,000 in midst of four-year growth streak
The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers marked its 138th anniversary on May 8 in the midst of a four-year growth streak.
North America's senior labor organization, the BLE was founded as the Brotherhood of the Footboard on May 8, 1863, in Marshall, Mich. Union leaders changed the name of the organization one year later to the current title.
Today, the BLE shows impressive growth despite a slowing U.S. economy. Overall membership in the BLE has grown each month for 48 of the past 51 months, including the past eight months in a row. The BLE has initiated an average of 244 new members per month for the past 11 months in a row.
Total active and retired membership is now more than 57,600. When factoring in the 2,500 members of the American Train Dispatchers Department of the BLE, total membership is now more than 60,100.
In 1863, 12 locomotive engineers representing the Michigan Central, Michigan Southern & Northern Indiana, Detroit & Milwaukee, Grand Trunk, and the Michigan Southern railroads sent delegates to draft a constitution which combined democratic control with efficient central administration to form the Brotherhood of the Footboard.
The delegates elected William D. Robinson to head the organization.
"This is a special day for the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and the American labor movement," said BLE President Edward Dubroski.
"BLE members should take a moment out of their day to reflect upon the sacrifices and struggles of those who came before us, and how we have benefited from their efforts."
The earliest BLE president and the current BLE president, William D. Robinson, left, and Edward Dubroski, right.
© 2001 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers