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BLET establishes new Short Line Department

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio, September 17 — Following through on actions taken by delegates to the BLET’s Fourth National Convention in 2018, BLET National President Dennis R. Pierce has authorized the creation of a Short Line Department at the National Division level.

The new BLET Short Line Department will expand the union’s ability to organize new members throughout the United States. Also, it will better serve current members from very small divisions who work for short line railroads by providing assistance from the National Division during contract negotiations and with other matters while also providing them with the freedom to form their own local grievance committees for contract enforcement and grievance handling at the local level.

In creating the new Short Line Department, President Pierce chartered a single Local Division — Division 16 — as the home for new and future short line members. Division 16 is structured to allow for the creation of multiple Sub-charters for each individual short line.

President Pierce has appointed BLET National Vice President Mike Twombly to serve as Head of the BLET Short Line Department and Special Representative Paul Aird as the Director of the BLET Short Line Department.

“Vice President Twombly has been assigned to assist numerous short line railroads over his past 11 years on the BLET Advisory Board, negotiating many contracts that have benefitted countless members,” President Pierce said. “He is a natural fit for the job, and I have every confidence that he will do an excellent job as Head of the BLET Short Line Department.”

President Pierce estimates that there are thousands of short line workers currently employed on non-union properties throughout the United States. “The new Short Line Division structure is expected to give the National Division added flexibility to organize new members and to grow our organization,” President Pierce said. “Brother Aird, who also serves the National Division as Director of Organizing, is the ideal candidate to serve as Director of the Short Line Division.”

To begin the process, short line members of five BLET Divisions are being merged into Division 16, including: Division 394 (Belt Railway of Chicago); the portion of Division 421 (Buffalo, N.Y.) that represents locomotive engineers and train service employees on the Western New York & Pennsylvania Railroad; the portion of Division 520 (Joliet, Ill.) that represents locomotive engineer employees on the Gary Railroad; Division 700 (Union Railroad); and Division 895 (South Buffalo Railway). The mergers into Division 16 will become effective November 1, 2019.

Vice President Twombly explains: “The structure of the Short Line Department ensures that collective bargaining, claim and grievance handling, and the discipline process are protected during day-to-day operations on behalf of the membership, while protecting local representation through and in coordination with each subdivision’s grievance committee. By establishing consistent leadership from the National Division and pooling resources back on the combined properties, it is easier and more efficient to establish one full roster of elected officers with one executive board in connection with separate subdivision grievance committees to handle the business of each railroad. The Short Line Division is working with the National Division and elected local officers from each railroad to quickly establish this process.”

President Pierce is optimistic about the future of the new BLET Short Line Division.

“I thank our delegates at the Fourth National Convention for showing the foresight and wisdom to authorize creation of our new Short Line Division, and I know Brother Twombly and Brother Aird are up to the challenge of leading this new endeavor,” President Pierce said. “I am optimistic that the BLET will be able to provide a voice to America’s non-union short line railroad workers who are looking for the strength and protection that come from belonging to a union.”

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

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