BLE readies for defense

Temporary dues assessment is necessary as BLE prepares to defend historic operating crafts from annihilation; UTU fires first shot on KCS

Statement by BLE President Don M. Hahs

As you may be aware, the United Transportation Union is attacking the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers in light of the resounding defeat of the proposed merger vote announced on December 10, 2001. As President of the oldest union in the Northern Hemisphere, I will not allow 138 years of history and tradition fall victim to an attack by a rogue union that sits outside the house of labor for the express purpose of raiding the BLE.

A 70 percent majority of active BLE members who participated in the referendum voted not to merge with the UTU. Members of the BLE Advisory Board took this overwhelming majority vote as a mandate to do everything possible to defend our organization and to defend the historic operating crafts of locomotive engineer and conductor.

The BLE's Advisory Board met in Cleveland on December 19 and agreed to deploy all of the Brotherhood's assets to defend our organization and the historical operating crafts from the dangerous UTU attacks. However, this will still not be enough.

The Board decided that a temporary dues assessment of $25 per member per month was necessary. The amount of $25 per member per month is based on a financial analyses of several past representation elections. But we didn't stop there. The Advisory Board also voted to authorize taking a loan on the BLE's headquarters, the Standard Building.

We consider operating employees' right to choose their union affiliation a valuable asset, and we'll do whatever it takes to protect their rights, seniority, jobs, crafts and, ultimately, their livelihood.

The UTU has already fired the first shot in this battle and has targeted the Kansas City Southern property. The UTU is attempting to use the same tactic employed in 1998 and 1999 on the Union Pacific Railroad - the threat of combined operating crafts. In essence, the UTU is seeking to take over the BLE by eliminating the historic operating crafts of locomotive engineer, conductor, brakeman, switchman, fireman, hostler, and hostler helper, and combining them into a single craft of "train and engine service employees." If the NMB votes to create a single craft, it will force a representation election on the KCS to determine which union will represent the new craft, thereby allowing UTU to use its greater numbers as leverage in an attempt to raid the BLE - and to ultimately destroy it.

The temporary $25 monthly assessment and the loan on the Standard Building will be used to protect the historic craft lines. The UTU plan of attack is dangerous, and could result in combined seniority rosters, loss of jobs, reduced pay, and - if less than a majority of eligible employees vote in a representation election - no union representation whatsoever.

We are a Brotherhood and we're all in this together - freight and passenger, all historic crafts, brothers and sisters. We're not fighting only for the continued existence of the BLE; rather, we are fighting to protect all existing operating crafts.

If the NMB decides in favor of the BLE, i.e., denies the UTU's application for a single-craft determination on KCS, then this temporary assessment will be cancelled immediately. If the NMB decides in favor of the UTU, we will vigorously challenge the Board's decision.

The BLE is a Brotherhood -- the greatest Brotherhood in North America -- and I can assure you that we will not sit idly by and see it destroyed.


2002 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers