Fighting to protect the craft of locomotive engineer and preserve its 136 years of heritage and tradition, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers will stage a rally and march in Washington D.C. on July 6.
A throng of BLE members and representatives from several AFL-CIO affiliates will rally to protest the United Transportation Union's petition before the National Mediation Board to eliminate the craft of locomotive engineer and create a single "train and engine service employee" craft.
"With an impressive show of solidarity, we can show the UTU and the NMB we are serious about preserving our craft," BLE President Clarence Monin said. "The UTU petition is nothing more than a raid against our membership."
The route BLE protestors will follow during their July 6 rally is outlined above in red. Members will gather in Lafayette Park to begin the march, then return there for a rally conducted by guest speakers.
The march will coincide with opening arguments in the case, and will begin at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, July 6 in Lafayette Park in downtown Washington D.C. The BLE International Division will provide protestors with picket signs and specially-made T-shirts, designed specifically for the march.
Event organizers predict it will take members 30 minutes to complete the marching portion of the rally, which includes a stop in front of National Mediation Board headquarters.
Marchers will then return to Lafayette Park where speeches will be delivered by several BLE members, including President Monin. In addition, leaders of several other labor unions will be on hand to give speeches and show their solidarity.
The march is being organized by the Department of Internal Organizing, Mobilizing and Strategic Planning, under the direction of Vice President Bill Walpert. Members making last-minute plans to attend should contact the Education & Training Department at (216) 241-2630, extension 253.
In January of 1998, the UTU petitioned the National Mediation Board to create a single class of "train and engine service employees" on the Union Pacific Railroad, arguing that, "The line between the craft or class of engineers on the one hand, and conductors and trainmen on the other, has been blurred to the point of practical extinction."
On Jan. 13, 1998, the Rail Labor Division of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO, passed a resolution condemning the UTU petition as nothing more than an illegal raid on BLE membership.
On March 18, 1998, the AFL-CIO rejected an appeal by the UTU and found it guilty of raiding BLE membership, which violates Article XX of the Federation's constitution. The UTU is now subject to stiff sanctions by the AFL-CIO unless it falls into compliance and removes its petition to the NMB.
Last month, BLE President Monin announced a six step plan to fight the UTU in its attempt to eliminate the craft of locomotive engineer.
The first step is to reorganize the BLE's mobilization network to improve communication with General Chairmen and Legislative Board Chairmen. Next comes a report to UP-SP members on what an adverse NMB ruling will mean to them and their jobs -- and seniority.
Third, once the mobilization structure is reorganized, the ID will sponsor special training workshops for UP-SP leaders to have them ready if there is an adverse NMB ruling.
Fourth -- the step that applies to the July 6 rally in D.C. -- is to marshal all BLE forces to prepare for the NMB hearing. Fifth, BLE leaders are working to ensure that other rail unions will remain solidly behind the BLE.
And finally, the BLE has called upon the AFL-CIO to impose Article XX sanctions against the UTU for its attempted raid on the UP in the guise of its bogus petition before the NMB.
"We will be working with our allies throughout the labor movement to see that the UTU pays a heavy price as the process moves forward," Monin said.
Members of a special planning committee help reorganize the BLE's Mobilization Network to improve communication with General Chairmen and State and Provincial Legislative Board Chairmen. Clockwise from bottom left: Ken Kroeger; Kent Confer; Tommy Miller; Tommy Mayne; Raymond Holmes; Dale McPherson; Larry James; and Charlie Rightnowar.
As this issue went to press, the Non-Compliance Subcommittee of the AFL-CIO Executive Council, chaired by Secretary-Treasurer Richard Trumka, was considering BLE's request to impose sanctions against UTU for its raid on BLE membership. UTU violated the AFL-CIO constitution in seeking to eliminate the craft of locomotive engineer. Possible penalties include expulsion from the AFL-CIO, leaving UTU crafts unprotected and open to organizing efforts by other AFL-CIO affiliates. More information to come in next month's issue.
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