BLE display popular at AFL-CIO Union Industries Trade Show

The "city of lakes," Minneapolis, Minn., was the site of the 2002 AFL-CIO Union Industries Show. Hundreds of union trade exhibitors, including the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, offered the public a glimpse of union workers' skill and pride in North American industries.

The Union Industries Trade Show serves as a unique job fair opportunity, offering visitors, especially young adults, an opportunity to see a vast array of exhibits which feature live demonstrations, the latest technology and union craftsmanship. An estimated 300,000 visitors passed through the newly expanded Minneapolis Convention Center Exhibit Hall during the four-day show (April 5-8). Busloads of school children were special guests on Friday and Monday mornings.

BLE Education and Training Coordinator Ken Kroeger put together a team of volunteers to staff the BLE display booth, which featured a cutaway from a locomotive cab provided by Baultar of Windsor, Quebec, Canada. Baultar manufactures modular ergonomic seating systems and cab accessories for railway locomotive and mass transit control cabs.

The cab cutaway from an old CN unit, originally built as a GP38-2, attracted the attention of show visitors of all ages. Baultar employees Len Woolgar and Charles Olivier Boudrias donned BLE shirts and cheerfully greeted visitors each day, encouraging them to sit in the operator's seat and become familiar with the immediate surroundings an engineer experiences while operating a locomotive.

Minnesota State Legislative Board Chairman Tom Perkovich and two other local BLE members, Kay Cooper and Tom Halonen, also volunteered their time at the booth. Numerous visitors, especially children, enjoyed being photographed sitting at the throttle and were given a Polaroid copy to keep as a souvenir.

A handout entitled "Becoming a Locomotive Engineer" attracted the attention of a number of visitors. Many who stopped by the booth expressed an interest in working as a locomotive engineer and asked about job openings in the railroad industry.

This year's show was dedicated to Dennis Kivikko who died last December after a brief hospitalization for treatment of pulmonary fibrosis. Brother Kivikko had served as Secretary-Treasurer of the AFL-CIO Union Label and Service Trades Department since 1996. He had also served as the Manager of the annual Union Industries Show since 1990. The show was Dennis's passion and his absence was felt by those who had known and worked with him on previous shows.

Next year's show will be held in Philadelphia, Pa.

Tom Halonen (right), a member of BLE Division 494 (Minneapolis, Minn.), explains what it takes to be hired as a locomotive engineer in the railroad industry. With a cutaway of a locomotive cab, the BLE booth received many interested visitors. More than 300,000 visitors attended the AFL-CIO's week-long Union Industries Trade Show in Minneapolis.

A close-up of the locomotive cab mock-up.

Ken Kroeger, Coordinator of the BLE Education & Training Department, with spouse Sereena Hogan, GIA 3rd International Vice-President, manning the BLE display booth.

Various dignitaries and labor leaders, including AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Richard Trumka (center), participate in the ribbon cutting ceremonies to open the 2002 Union Industries Trade Show. Part of the trade show included a booth commemorating union heroes and a wall listing the names of all union members lost to terrorism in 2001.



© 2002 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers