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W&LE trainmen vote BLET

CLEVELAND, July 28 -- Conductors and trainmen at the Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway have dumped the United Transportation Union in favor of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen.

It is the 10th shortline organizing victory for the BLET in the past three years.

By a narrow margin, 60 trainmen voted to make the AFL-CIO affiliated BLET their designated collective bargaining representative in an election certified by the National Mediation Board today.

“I want to thank the engineers and trainmen for sticking together and working toward a single goal — better representation,” said Tommy Miller, the BLET’s Director of Organizing.

The BLET already holds the contract to represent the W&LE’s locomotive engineers.

Brother Miller thanked the BLET GCofA for lending assistance, as well as the Ohio State Legislative Board. “This was a team effort,” he said.

He also thanked the International Brotherhood of Teamsters for their assistance, and thanked BLET First Vice-President Ed Rodzwicz and Vice-President Paul Sorrow for addressing the trainmen during the organizing drive.

“This was about the workers and their families,” Brother Miller said. “They wanted to be part of the 1.4 million Teamsters. They wanted a better contract and they wanted better representation.”

BLET National President Don Hahs praised Brother Miller for another job well-done. “Tommy Miller has helped the Brotherhood gain nearly 1,000 new members through 10 successful organizing drives over the past three years.”

With the addition of the Wheeling & Lake Erie, the BLET has successfully organized 10 different shortline railroads since 2001. These organizing victories have brought more than 800 new members into the BLET. The other shortlines are: Louisville & Indiana Railroad; Portland & Western; New York & Atlantic; Great Western Railway of Colorado; St. Lawrence & Atlantic; Utah Railway; Iowa, Chicago & Eastern; Indiana Southern; and the Texas-Mexican Railway.

Headquartered in Brewster, Ohio, the W&LE has an annual gross revenue of approximately $50 million, with trains operating in Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Maryland. W&LE lines interchange with three major Class I railroads — Canadian National, CSX Transportation, and Norfolk Southern. Its major commodities — generating approximately 130,000 carloads annually — include coal, iron ore, steel, aggregates from four quarries; plus, chemicals, forest products, and grain. The W&LE operates over 840 miles of tracks, including trackage rights over some territories owned by the Norfolk Southern.

The BLET now represents more than 150 operating employees at the Wheeling & Lake Erie.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

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