Mike Priester reelected Chairman of Western General Chairmen's Assoc.

Mike Priester was reelected by acclamation to the office of Chairman of the Western General Chairmen's Association (WGCA) during the WGCA's annual meeting in Reno the week of April 28.

Brother Priester serves as General Chairman of the CP Rail System/U.S. General Committee of Adjustment. He joined the Brotherhood on Feb. 1, 1972, and is a member of BLET Division 754 (Terre Haute, Ind.). He was elected to this third term as CP Rail General Chairman in June of 2007.

"I am honored to be selected to my second term as Chairman of the WGCA and will devote myself to our membership and to the entire BLET membership in general," Brother Priester said.

Also elected were: Vice Chairman P.J. Williams (BNSF-former AT&SF General Chairman); and Secretary-Treasurer Rick Gibbons (BNSF-former STL-SF General Chairman). Brother Gibbons was reelected by acclamation. Brother Williams was elected by acclamation to the position formerly held by National Vice President Dennis Pierce.

Elected to the WGCA Executive Committee were John Koonce (CN-IC General Chairman) and Sam Parker (KCS General Chairman). Both brothers were elected by acclamation.

Speakers and Guests

There were 16 general chairmen and nine vice general chairmen in attendance, and numerous guest speakers addressed the Association. Chairman Priester said that all speakers were well received and their presentations were very informative.

Delivering presentations on behalf of the BLET National Division was National President Ed Rodzwicz, First Vice President Paul Sorrow, National Secretary-Treasurer Bill Walpert, and National Vice President Pierce.

President Rodzwicz's presentation focused on moving forward and preparing for the next round of national contract negotiations.

Legal Counsel Mike Wolly, whose firm successfully handled the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) litigation on behalf of the BLET, discussed ways to handle the pending claims now that the Supreme Court has ruled in favor of the BLET.

Becky Schneider, National President of the BLET Auxiliary, addressed the Association and explained how Auxiliary members lend a hand to the BLET by being politically active while their spouses are at work for the railroad.

Safety Presentations from the FRA

Safety and locomotive engineer decertification were main topics of conversation with guest speakers from the Federal Railroad Administration. They were: Associate Administrator for Safety Jo Strang; Director of Security Bill Fagan; and Locomotive Engineer Certification Specialist John Conklin.

Chairman Priester said Conklin's presentation was most informative. Conklin spoke in depth regarding recent trends in locomotive engineer decertification, which was followed by a lengthy question and answer session.

According to Conklin, one of the top engineer decertification issues of late is occupying main track without authority.

Joint Meeting with NASLBC

Following the conclusion of the WGCA's meetings, the Association held a joint meeting with the BLET's National Association of State Legislative Board Chairmen (NASLBC).

The meeting was facilitated by Sally Payne and Bill Munger, representatives of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters' Training and Development Department. Brother Munger is a member of BLET Division 439 (Allston, Mass.) who works for the Training and Development Department. Sally Payne is the Associate Director and Western Region Training Coordinator.

The meeting was a strategic planning session between the groups and focused on improving communication in this important election year and continued cooperation between the General Chairmen and State Legislative Board Chairmen.


© 2008 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen