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BLET marks 152nd anniversary today

CLEVELAND, May 8 — The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen proudly celebrates its 152nd anniversary today. The union was founded as the Brotherhood of the Footboard on May 8, 1863 in Marshall, Mich. In 1864, the union changed its name to Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers (BLE), the name it retained for 140 years until merging with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters on Jan. 1, 2004, when it became the BLET.

The organization was formed in the early 1860s when locomotive engineers on the Michigan Central Railroad became discouraged with pay cuts and the dismissal of their firemen. During that time, locomotive engineers at the Michigan Central were being paid at the rate of $60 a month on the condition that they ran at least 2,500 miles each month, regardless of the time consumed.

The BLET was the first labor organization to obtain contracts with railroads. Among the earliest was an agreement with the former New York Central in 1875. Today, the BLET has dozens of contracts with railroads large and small, and represents locomotive engineers on 98 percent of rail trackage in the United States. The BLET is the oldest labor union in North America.

The Brotherhood has always been proud to support America’s soldiers and their families. Born in the midst of the Civil War, our union’s membership has been comprised of veterans of every major military conflict since, up to and including the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Today, the BLET is the founding member of the Teamsters Rail Conference. The union represents more than 50,000 active and retired members throughout the United States, and remains one of the largest and most influential railroad unions in the nation.

Friday, May 8, 2015
bentley@ble-t.org

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