Annual Western General Chairmen's meeting concludes

The annual BLET Western General Chairmen Association's meeting concluded in Las Vegas on April 6.

The annual meeting is designed for the general sharing of information and planning the future direction of the Brotherhood. Its members are the General Chairmen who represent railroads in the western United States, but General Chairmen from eastern railroads and officers of the BLET National Division are often invited to participate.

The BLET Executive Committee represented the National Division at this year's WGCA meeting, including National President Don Hahs, First Vice-President Ed Rodzwicz, and National Secretary-Treasurer Bill Walpert.

Brother Dennis Pierce, General Chairman from the Burlington Northern-Santa Fe/MRL, is the Chairman of the Western General Chairmen's Association.

President Hahs led a roundtable discussion on the Brotherhood's participation in the Rail Labor Bargaining Coalition (RLBC). President Hahs discussed the general makeup of RLBC, which consists of six other unions and the IBT, and the ongoing negotiating process.

President Hahs also discussed the uncertainty regarding Amtrak funding and emphasized the need for a strong source of funding for the national passenger railroad. "We need to end the yearly budget crisis that plagues Amtrak," he said. "Our nation needs rail transportation to be on solid footing."

The General Chairmen also heard a presentation from John Murphy, Director of Teamsters' Rail Conference. He generally described the Procedure by which General Committees would elect delegates to the upcoming 2006 IBT Convention.

Cheryl Johnson, special assistant to General President Jim Hoffa brought greetings from the General President and gave an overview of the services and staff available to BLET members (i.e. communications, research, education, organizing) as part of the merger. "We welcome our rail members and invite you to attend our meetings, especially our upcoming Unity Conference in Las Vegas May 8-9," Johnson said.

Also as part of the meeting, Western General Chairmen's Association officers were elected. General Chairman Pierce was re-elected as Chairman of the Association, General Chairman Gil Gore (UP Southern Region) was re-elected as Vice Chairman and General Chairman Mike Priester (CP/Soo Line) was re-elected as Secretary Treasurer.

Following the meeting, Brother Pierce reported that the Association discussed many serious issues confronting BLET while they were convened and that those discussions were conducted in a manner that allowed all General Chairmen present to participate in direct and candid conversations with the officers of the National Division and the officers representing IBT.

"While the items we discussed were certainly serious, our open and honest discussions provided the kind of fellowship that can only strengthen BLET as we move ahead," Chairman Pierce said. He also offered his thanks on behalf of the Association to all of the officers and staff of the National Division and IBT that were able to attend and join in the meeting.


© 2005 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen