BLE members to vote again on UTU merger

CLEVELAND, October 22 -- The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers will conduct a second referendum vote on whether or not to merge with the United Transportation Union after a lawsuit by three BLE officers halted the original balloting process.

Attorneys for the BLE and the three BLE officers reached a settlement on October 19, which will be submitted to Federal Judge Ann Aldrich for approval on Friday, October 26.

Newly-elected BLE International President Don M. Hahs said that as a condition of the settlement, the ballots cast by BLE members in the first referendum will be destroyed, and that the settlement -- if approved by Judge Aldrich -- will alter the balloting process in three major ways:

  • The new referendum will be conducted by secret ballot;
  • The votes of U.S. and Canadian BLE members will be counted together; and
  • The three BLE officers will have the opportunity to submit a written statement in opposition to the merger, which will be included with ballots that will be mailed to all BLE members.

The new ballots will be mailed on November 7, and they must be filled out and returned to the American Arbitration Association (AAA) no later than December 10. The BLE will utilize the services of AAA to handle all phases of the new referendum, including the printing, mailing and counting of the new ballots.

The BLE will direct the AAA to destroy the ballots cast by BLE members during August and September -- ballots which were impounded by Judge Aldrich's order of September 17.

"Ultimately, the process of determining whether there should be a merger with UTU will not be complete until the membership has spoken," President Hahs said. "The final decision rests with you. Therefore, I urge you to exercise your right to vote on what is perhaps the most important issue in BLE history."

President Hahs also said the BLE will establish a toll-free hotline for BLE members to use to report missing ballots or to request another copy of the Unification Agreement and Constitution.

A condition of the settlement requires the BLE to publish on its website the October 19 Stipulation and Consent Order, as well as Judge Aldrich's September 21 Memorandum Opinion. Links will be provided to both documents pending Judge Aldrich's decision.


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October 22, 2001


2001 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers