BLET members tell Ad Council to pull offensive TV commercial

In early February, BLET member Bob Sorg, 1st Vice Chairman of the Pennsylvania State Legislative Board, was enjoying a Pittsburgh Penguins hockey game on television when, during a time out, he was stunned by one of the most offensive commercials he had ever seen on television.

The commercial, a public service announcement sponsored by The Ad Council and two trade groups, shows a young girl standing on railroad tracks in front of a speeding locomotive. The speeding locomotive is a metaphor intended to represent the threat of global warming and its potential impact on future generations.

However, to Bob Sorg and countless other locomotive engineers, the ad was too painful to view. He and other BLET leaders have contacted the Ad Council to request that the insensitive ad be pulled from the airwaves, but thus far, their requests have been ignored.

"The horrific scene of a speeding locomotive bearing down on a small child is inexcusable and in poor taste," said Don Hahs, National President of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen. "Nearly every single member of the BLET has been or will be involved in some sort of fatal train accident during his or her railroad career."

President Hahs said that locomotive engineers often endure Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) following fatal train accidents, displaying symptoms similar to those of veterans who return home from the violence of war.

John Tolman, BLET Vice President and National Legislative Representative, wrote a letter to Peggy Conlon, President and CEO of the Ad Council. Tolman explained to Conlon that the ad was insensitive to locomotive engineers who have been involved in fatal accidents and asked that it be removed from airwaves.

"The advertisement that your organization has produced is the manifestation of the trauma that we try to eliminate from the careers of locomotive engineers and trainmen," Tolman wrote.

Conlon was dismissive of BLET's concerns and the commercial is still appearing on airwaves throughout the U.S.

The BLET's National Legislative Office is asking all BLET Brothers and Sisters, as well as anyone else who is offended by the ad, to contact the Ad Council and its partners to tell them to take it off the airwaves. Members can call the Ad Council main phone in New York at (212) 922-1500, or at their Washington, D.C., office at (202) 331-9153.

For more details about this "Action Alert," visit the National Legislative Office's new website at:



© 2007 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen