Members create new Regional and Shortline GCofA

Leaders of several short line railroads created their own BLET General Committee of Adjustment in historic meetings held in Cleveland on January 10 and 11.

The new Regional and Shortline General Committee of Adjustment is the first of its kind. It will provide a powerful voice and stronger representation to more than 300 members from 10 different shortline railroads throughout the United States. The new General Committee will focus exclusively on the representation of its shortline members.

All new shortlines organized by the Brotherhood will automatically become a member of the new Shortline General Committee.

"The potential to grow is enormous," said BLET National Secretary-Treasurer Bill Walpert, who helped facilitate the historic meeting. "There are dozens if not hundreds of non-union shortlines that could be organized throughout the United States. The potential is there for a powerful GCofA representing thousands of members."

Delegates attending the meeting adopted General Committee Bylaws and elected officers.

"The delegates did an excellent job of conducting business and electing strong, capable leaders," said BLET Shortline Director John Mullen, who also helped facilitate the meeting. "Based on their commitment and dedication to the membership, this group of young officers are forging a bright future for the Shortline General Committee."

Dustin Heichel was elected by acclamation as the new General Chairman of the Regional and Shortline General Committee.

"Our new structure will give shortlines a tremendous boost in bargaining power," said Heichel, who also serves as General Chairman of the Iowa, Chicago & Eastern (IC&E). "The Education and Training sponsored by the National Division will help strengthen our membership as new shortlines come on board."

Ken Kroeger, BLET Special Representative and Coordinator of the Education & Training Dept., was in attendance to give the delegates a crash course in representing members in disciplinary hearings.

The BLET National Division pledged to help the fledgling General Committee get on its feet in the form of a $4,000 short term loan, to be repaid over a 12 month period.

In addition to General Chairman Heichel, other GCofA officers elected were: Dan Lorenz (Huron & Eastern), Vice General Chairman & Eastern Region Chairman; John Sexton (IC&E), Alternate Western Region Chairman; Eric Hill (Louisville & Indiana), Alternate Eastern Region Chairman; Corey Carroll (IC&E), Secretary-Treasurer; and Tracy Jensen (IC&E), Alternate Secretary-Treasurer.

Representatives of many newly organized shortline railroads were in attendance as delegates, such as Brian Price of the Panhandle Northern, whose members ratified their first BLET contract in October of 2006, and Dan Lorenz, whose Huron & Eastern members joined the BLET in May and are still negotiating their first agreement. Other delegates included Jason Baldwin of the Great Western Railway of Colorado and Steve Tarlton of the Chicago, Fort Wayne & Eastern.

Heichel said he and his fellow officers have a lot of work ahead of them, but he remains upbeat about the future.

"I anticipate a great future for our Regional and Shortline General Committee of Adjustment," Heichel said. "The problem we had is that each individual railroad was so small. Now, we have the structure to come together and become more powerful."

The delegates and newly-elected officers of the Regional and Shortline General Committee of Adjustment pose to commemorate their inaugural convention in Cleveland on January 10. Seated, from left: Dustin Heichel (IC&E), Regional & Shortline General Chairman; Dan Lorenz (Huron & Eastern), Vice General Chairman and Eastern Region Chairman; and John Sexton (IC&E), Alternate Western Region Chairman. Standing, from left: Eric Hill (Louisville & Indiana), Alternate Eastern Region Chairman; Steve Tarlton (CF&E), delegate; Brian Price (Panhandle Northern), delegate; and Jason Baldwin (Great Western Railway of Colorado), delegate.

From left: BLET National Secretary-Treasurer Bill Walpert and BLET Director of Shortlines John Mullen represented the National Division during the two-day convention and assisted the Shortline delegates with the formation of the General Committee.

Ken Kroeger, right, BLET Special Representative and Coordinator of the Education & Training Department.

 

 

© 2007 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen