GIA, BLET facing new frontiers in the 21st Century

By Onita Wayland
International President
Grand International Auxiliary to BLET

Like the GIA, I have been around a while - not quite 118 years, but a while. As with anything, when times change, we must change with them. The needs and direction of any organization, like our lives, require re-tooling every so often. A positive change is what we see on the horizon for the GIA. We have enjoyed many years of friendship and fellowship with our sisters and brothers, but we need to embrace and adapt to the new challenges that have occurred since the GIA began in 1887. The railroads have "super-sized," creating a tougher, more impersonal working environment. On a more positive note, rail labor unions have begun to merge, with more possibly on the way, creating better bargaining positions and increasing political clout. The current make up of Washington, D.C., and the various state houses have increased our need for vigilance and unity to make sure that railroad workers' rights do not erode any further.

When I was elected International President in 2001, the motto of my administration has been "Growing, Advancing with Integrity into the New Millennium." I believe we have made enormous strides in continuing to update and promote changes in our organization that are beneficial to our members and our families. However, our work is not yet done. In fact, because of the merger of the former B of LE into the BLET under the Teamsters Rail Conference, we need to broaden our scope, and reach out to all railroaders and their families, who are interested in joining our efforts to promote rail safety, quality of life, and all of the issues that make railroad employment a risky business.

In unity, there is strength, and there is not a soul out there who is associated with the railroad that is not aware that with a strong, unified voice, we can continue to make a difference in the lives of those who work for the railroad.

Change, like death and taxes, is an integral part of life. When it is a change for the better, it should be welcomed with open arms, rather than resisted. Looking towards the future, we need to make necessary changes so we can continue "Growing, Advancing with Integrity into the New Millennium." If we do not look to the future and all of the promise that it holds, we will face the inevitable consequences.

I ask all of my brothers and sisters to make suggestions as to how we can continue our mission of helping us to help you.



© 2005 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen