BLE, UTU, BNSF agree to create Executive Safety Committee to resolve issues

KANSAS CITY, Mo., April 30 -- At an unprecedented "safety summit" held here today by the United Transportation Union (UTU), Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers (BLE) and the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Co. (BNSF), the presidents of the three organizations agreed to establish an Executive Safety Committee empowered to recommend solutions to improve safety issues on BNSF.

The Executive Safety Committee, comprised of key UTU, BLE and BNSF officials, will be charged with developing a state-of-the-art safety plan and process by August 1. Members of the Executive Safety Committee will be announced in the immediate future.

The original call for the BNSF Safety Summit came on March 14 from UTU International President Byron A. Boyd, Jr. After BLE International President Edward Dubroski applauded the safety initiative, Boyd proposed that both unions participate in the summit together along with BNSF President & CEO Matthew K. Rose.

"By taking these first steps today to create a high-level Executive Safety Committee and committing to a 90-day timeline to develop a plan," said Boyd, "we are telling our members and the railroad industry that this Safety Summit is about getting real results. Safety goes beyond rivalries between unions and rivalries between those unions and a company. We must do everything in our power to make sure our members go home safely each and every day from their job."

"We each said what was on our mind and then we all came to a meeting of the minds that the safety of our members and BNSF operating employees must be a top priority," said Dubroski. "We expect this Executive Safety Committee to develop a real-world plan that will work on the BNSF and that accomplishes our major goals. Working together with the UTU at this safety summit showed BNSF just how serious we are."

Said Rose, "I am very encouraged by the numerous ideas presented at the Summit. We know that the safety of our employees will be enhanced when all parties involved work to resolve the root cause of injuries and accidents."

Approximately 50 UTU, BLE and BNSF officials attended the Safety Summit held at the Kansas City Airport Hilton Hotel, including the top officers of all three organizations as well as general chairpersons and state legislative officers.

Representing the UTU were: Boyd; Assistant President Paul Thompson, and all BNSF general chairpersons and state legislative directors throughout the BNSF system.

Representing the BLE were: Dubroski; First Vice President Jim McCoy; Vice President & National Legislative Representative Leroy Jones; Vice President Don Hahs, and BNSF general chairmen and state legislative board chairmen from throughout the BNSF system.

Representing the BNSF were: Rose; Executive Vice President and Chief Operations Officer Carl Ice; Vice President/Transportation Dave Dealy; Vice President/Safety, Training and Operations Support Greg Stengem; and Vice President/Labor Relations John Fleps.

After three years of tensions between the UTU and BLE, Boyd characterized the safety summit as "a new beginning between" the BLE and UTU. Dubroski said that the BLE "should seize upon this opportunity, and others that are sure to come about in the coming months, to mutually advance the causes of our memberships."


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April 30, 2001


2001 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers