More than 300 attend BLE, IBT safety rally

BLE International President Don Hahs was the first of five speakers at the rally on March 11 in Washington D.C. He was followed by: AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Rich Trumka; TTD Executive Director Ed Wytkind; Teamsters General President James Hoffa; and Association of Flight Attendants National President Pat Friend.

James Hoffa, General President of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, gives a rousing speech at the BLE-IBT rally for remote control safety in front of FRA headquarters in Washington, D.C., on March 11. In his speech, President Hoffa said, "The government must not ignore public safety and the rights of railroad workers. Railroading is a craft, whose professional functions cannot be surrendered to a machine."

More than 300 protesters march outside of the Federal Railroad Administration headquarters in Washington, D.C. on March 11 to demand improved safety regarding the operation of remote control locomotives.

Richard Trumka, Secretary-Treasurer of the AFL-CIO, delivers his speech to thunderous ovation. He condemned the FRA's unwillingness to meet with BLE leaders to discuss remote control. He said that the BLE was not alone in its fight to improve remote control safety, telling the enthusiastic crowd that remote control was not a BLE issue - it was a labor issue.

Officers of the Grand International Auxiliary (GIA) were out in full force at the March 11 rally. From left: Pat Murphy and Mabel Grotzinger.

Ed Wytkind, Executive Director of the AFL-CIO's Transportation Trades Department, at the podium during is speech. In addressing the FRA, Wytkind said, "Your silence tells railroad workers that their safety isn't a priority. Your silence must end." He told the crowd that the TTD had sent a letter to the FRA demanding action on the remote control issue. He also read portions of a letter to the FRA from Senator Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA), in which the Senator said he was "deeply concerned" about safety issues related to remote control locomotives.

Pat Friend, National President of the Association of Flight Attendants, tells how the Federal Aviation Administration scrapped plans to institute remote control of airplanes in the wake of 9-11.

More than 300 union members participated in the rally by carrying picket signs and chanting, "Remote control has got to go."



© 2003 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers