BLET opens Nashville regional meeting

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio, August 5 — More than 300 members of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen and their families convened in Nashville, Tennessee, on the morning of August 3 for opening ceremonies of the BLET’s second regional meeting of 2021.

BLET National President Dennis R. Pierce called the meeting to order. After presentation of the flags, Brother Chris Hyde delivered the invocation. Brother Hyde is Vice Chairman of the CSX Eastern Lines General Committee of Adjustment and Local Chairman of BLET Division 314 in Rocky Mount, North Carolina.

President Pierce then welcomed all members, families and guests to Nashville. He introduced members of the BLET Advisory Board who were in attendance, and thanked National Vice President Jim Louis, Special Representative Matt Kronyak and Special Representative Jason Wright for their work in managing and organizing the regional meeting. President Pierce also recognized and thanked the regional meeting arrangements committee members who provided local support: Jeffrey Rich, Chairman of the Tennessee State Legislative Board and Legislative Representative of BLET Division 129 (Nashville, Tennessee); Barry Faulkner, retired Chairman of the Tennessee State Legislative Board and member of Division 41 (Nashville, Tennessee); Brother Greg Lund, a retired member of Division 421 (Buffalo, New York); and Brother Carl Fields, a retired member of BLET Division 682 (Hammond, Indiana) and former Coordinator of the BLET Safety Task Force.

Guest speakers included: Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa; Teamsters International Vice President and Rail Conference Director John F. Murphy; Railroad Retirement Board Labor Member John Bragg; U.S. Representative Jim Cooper, a Democrat who represents Tennessee’s 5th District; James Curbeam, Chairman of the Teamsters National Black Caucus and Southern Region Organizing Coordinator; Billy Dycus, President of the Tennessee AFL-CIO Labor Council; and BLET Auxiliary National President Kat Bisbikis.

During his opening address, President Pierce reminded members of the upcoming BLET triennial elections and the IBT International Union’s election of Officers. He urged all Brothers and Sisters to become involved in both processes.

“Next month our Union’s Local Divisions will begin their triennial election process. To start that process, our nearly 500 divisions will accept nominations in September. I want to personally ask each of our members to consider taking a more active role in our great Brotherhood. Our division election cycle is one of the most vital pieces of our growth and our strength. This is also a chance for our younger members to become involved in our grassroots movement,” President Pierce said.

“BLET members will begin receiving ballots in early October to elect the leaders of the Teamsters. It is important that all eligible BLET members participate and cast a vote to in the International Union’s election of Officers. It will be hard if not impossible for anyone to fill General President Hoffa’s shoes when he retires next year, but our participation is the best way to ensure our Union stays strong,” President Pierce said.

President Pierce gave a special introduction to Vice President & National Legislative Representative Vince Verna, the newest member of the BLET’s Advisory Board.

“As many of you know, after nearly 50 years in the railroad industry Vice President and National Legislative Representative John Tolman retired on November 4, 2020,” he said. “Many of us will miss John’s passionate speeches and Boston vocabulary, and the saying goes that when one door closes another one opens. After John’s retirement Brother Vince Verna elevated to the Advisory Board. John certainly left big shoes to fill but Vince has hit the ground running and is a great addition to our Advisory Board.”

As part of the morning session, President Pierce led BLET members in a moment of silence in memory of Brother Shahraim C. Allen, late Chairman of the BLET Washington State Legislative Board, who died unexpectedly on June 24, 2021. Members in attendance also observed a moment of silence in honor of all BLET members who have been killed in the line of duty since 1989, whose names were shown in a solemn video presentation.

Members will take advantage of educational opportunities throughout the remainder of the week. Workshops will feature specialized training for BLET Legislative Representatives, Secretary-Treasurers and Local Chairmen. The 2021 Nashville regional meeting will conclude with a banquet on the evening of Thursday, August 5.

Thursday, August 5, 2021

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