Michael D. Priester is a National Vice President of the 53,500-member Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen. He was elected by acclamation to his second consecutive term as Vice President at the BLET’s Third National Convention on October 1, 2014. He also ran unopposed when he was first elected Vice President at the BLET’s Second National Convention in 2010.
His railroad career began when he hired out as a fireman for the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad on June 6, 1968, out of Terre Haute, Ind. By 1969, he was holding a regular position on a night road switch, which allowed him to pursue a higher education, enrolling at Indiana State University. There he majored in Criminology and Sociology and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in August 1974.
In 1972, Vice President Priester was promoted to engineer and joined BLE Division 754 effective February 1, 1972. He has been a member in good standing ever since. It was here that his interests turned towards union, which propelled him to the Vice Local Chairman’s position in his Division. He held that position all the while, gaining the experience and knowledge needed to take the next step.
In 1979, he was elected Local Chairman, a position he would hold for 20 years. In 1999, he was elected General Chairman of the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR)-US, Metra North, Iowa, Missouri Rail Link (IMRL) Committee. He had served this Committee as its Chairman for 11-1/2 years, winning reelection in both 2003 and 2007.
This Committee has since expanded to include the Indiana Southern Railroad (ISRR) and the Dakota, Minnesota and Eastern Railroad (DM&E).
Under Priesterís leadership as General Chairman, the DM&E membership ratified a retroactive five-year wage and benefits package in August of 2010, which included a union shop agreement. This agreement will provide the General Committee with the opportunity to represent 200-plus new members in matters pertaining to the new agreement.
Prior to becoming Vice President, Priester had served as Chairman of the BLET Western General Chairmanís Association for four consecutive terms. As Chairman of this Association, it also affords him the opportunity to serve on the current BLET National Bargaining Team.
In 1972, Vice President Priester met and married the love of his life, Debbie. She graced him with two beautiful children, Michael Todd and Shannon. They celebrated their 42nd wedding anniversary in June of 2014.