A message from IBT General President James P. Hoffa

Coalition building

Coalition building has become a mainstay of progressive organizing in the labor movement. We are seeing the fruits of this strategy in the Teamsters Rail conference due to the recent creation of the Rail Labor Bargaining Coalition.

The rail conference, along with representatives from the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET), Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes Division (BMWED) and five other rail unions have joined together to bargain collectively with rail corporations. This is the first time in at least 20 years that rail labor has seen such cohesion. And, the rail corporations are taking notice. In the Teamsters Rail Conference alone we represent nearly 60,000 rail employees. This is a formidable bargaining power and we intend to use it to gain the best benefits and wages for our members.

We recently saw a victory for rail safety when the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) which is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation, sided with labor and denied Union Pacific's (UP) request for a safety waiver. The UP waiver would have allowed locomotive engines to be inspected in a Mexican facility. Once through the Mexican facility, the locomotive would have been allowed to travel, unchecked, for up to 1,000 miles in the United States. We were not going to let this pass us by and we fought, along with support from Capitol Hill, to have the FRA deny this waiver. Our rail infrastructure is safer because of this action.

Rail labor solidarity

In addition to the halls of Congress, we have shown our strength on the streets. Recently Teamster staffers joined with 250 rank and file rail union members to hold a rally and demonstration in front of the National Mediation Board (NMB) hearings. The hearings were to be about fees to be imposed upon workers and unions as part of the NMB's arbitration process. We think this is an unfair set of fees that thumbs its nose at the very reason the Railway Labor Act was amended in 1907. The amendment provided for free arbitration of minor disputes in exchange for rail workers being unable to strike over the same disputes.

Shouting "NMB: Adding Insult to Injury," and "NMB: Don't Silence Workers," we made the NMB board members well aware of our opposition to these fees. Let's keep up the coalition building and solidarity in the rail conference - it's a force for change in the industry!

Stay United, Proud and Strong!



© 2005 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen