BLET now open for business

Structures are in place for trainmen to join new organization

Since merging with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters on January 1, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen has a formal structure in place to allow for the expansion of trainmen membership within the new organization.

The BLET Bylaws provide for us to establish a Trainmen's Department within the BLET.

From its predecessor union, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, the BLET has a history of successfully representing both engineers and trainmen.

For example, engineers and trainmen at the Texas Mexican Railway approached the former BLE several years ago in hopes of joining. Those dreams were realized in July of 2002 and the BLE represented engineers and trainmen on the Tex-Mex for a year and a half before the creation of the BLET.

In late 2003, the BLE negotiating team, which consisted of engineers and conductors, signed a landmark agreement with Tex Mex that allowed for the safe implementation of remote control while providing major pay raises to engineers and trainmen.

With a federally certified locomotive engineer on the job, the Tex-Mex crews have the flexibility to operate trains by traditional methods or by remote control, depending on which method is more efficient in any given situation.

The agreement gives the carriers the maximum flexibility possible in implementing remotes, something missing from Class One remote control agreements. Tex-Mex crews are paid handsomely for their efforts, with some seeing a 45 percent pay increase. Also, the agreement protects operating employees from being furloughed as a result of the implementation.

In addition to the Tex Mex, the BLET also represents numerous trainmen on many other properties. Unhappy with their representation by another rail union, operating employees at the Utah Railway selected the BLE in a trainman-only representation election in February of 2003.

"If you're tired of the single craft battles, dues maintenance fees, pattern agreements, and not being able, in most cases, to address ebb and flow issues, then it is time to join the BLET under the IBT umbrella," President Hahs said.

Who holds the contract and the actual representation of trainmen in discipline hearings is a complex matter, explained more fully in an upcoming issue of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen News.



© 2004 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen