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BLET dedicates new National Division headquarters building

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio, April 15 — Approximately 150 members, officers, dignitaries and guests were in attendance yesterday at a dedication ceremony for the new National Division headquarters building of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) in Independence, Ohio.

Headquartered in downtown Cleveland since 1870, the BLET is the oldest labor union in North America. The union was founded as the Brotherhood of the Footboard on May 8, 1863. The union currently represents more than 56,000 locomotive engineers and trainmen throughout the United States.

Speakers at the ribbon cutting ceremony included: Dennis R. Pierce, BLET National President; Anthony Togliatti, Mayor of Independence, Ohio; Ken Hall, General Secretary-Treasurer (GST) of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters; John Ryan, State Director for Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH); and Sean O’Brien, Teamsters International Vice President–Eastern Region.

“Through good times and bad, in peace and in war, our Brotherhood has led the struggle on behalf of our members for economic security and a piece of the American Dream. For generations we also have been a beacon of hope and a shining example for railroad workers and for all American workers,” President Pierce said. “And so it is with the utmost humility and pride that I dedicate the BLET’s new National Division Headquarters to the memory of well over a hundred thousand BLET and BLE members in our nearly 153‑year history; may we always honor those without whom our great Brotherhood would not exist.”

Mayor Togliatti’s remarks echoed those of President Pierce. “The skill and hard work of your union members has helped to build the United States,” he said. “You are the backbone of America, and it is truly an honor to welcome the BLET to Independence.”

GST Hall praised the foresight of BLET leaders for their commitment to the future. “This is one impressive building, and it is important to our members to have a facility that they can be proud of,” Hall said. “This building is an inspiration for others in the labor movement. I am impressed by the focus on training at this new building, and would like to recognize the foresight of the BLET’s leadership in putting together this building with an eye on the future.”

State Director Ryan praised the BLET for its influence in Washington, D.C. “Your union might not be the biggest, but you are one of the strongest and most vocal when it comes to speaking out on behalf of your members,” he said.

Vice President O’Brien said the new BLET headquarters building symbolizes the Brotherhood’s drive into the new century. “As we move ahead in the new century we must not lose sight of how we got here,” O’Brien said. “With your training center you prepare your members for the future and with your history museum you are grounded to your past.”

A reception and tour of the building followed. The 40,000 square foot building houses offices for the union’s National Division officers and staff as well as the union’s history museum, which contains railroad artifacts dating to 1855. The museum features the union’s massive “History of United States Locomotives” mural, a 110-foot oil on canvas painting finished in 1937 that depicts the evolution of railroad transportation in the United States. The National Division headquarters building also boasts a state of the art education and training center for union officers and members. The BLET is also proud to announce that all renovation work on the structure was done by a 100% Union workforce.

Members of the BLET Advisory Board attended the ceremony. Numerous BLET General Chairmen and State Legislative Board Chairmen were also in attendance, along with officers of BLET Division 3 and Division 607 in Cleveland and various representatives of other rail labor unions. In addition to Mayor Togliatti, representatives from the City of Independence who attended the ceremony included: City Councilman Carl Asseff; Economic Development Director Jeremy Rowan; Police Chief Mike Kilbane; Fire Chief Steve Rega; and City Inspector Mike Gero.

The building address is: 7061 East Pleasant Valley Road, Independence, Ohio, 44131.

Friday, April 15, 2016
bentley@ble-t.org

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