GIA Dialogue

Embracing the future, one member at a time

By Onita Wayland
International President
Grand International Auxiliary

Over 118 years ago, the GIA to BLE came about as a result of a recognized need to organize the various groups of railroad wives, which met informally around the country. Just as these small groups recognized the need to meet with one another in their own geographical area, our founders foresaw the benefit of joining together as one organization in support of their fellow engineers' wives, and of the BLE.

The movement gained strength and flourished for the first 90 years, or so, but as times changed, so did the membership of the GIA. More spouses began working, and children's activities went from music lessons and sandlot baseball to increased involvement in school activities and a myriad of sports, resulting in a decrease in time for family activities which also had to be worked around Dad's schedule.

The GIA recognized the need to alter its focus to adapt to changing lifestyles and society's changing times. We have succeeded in this endeavor resulting in our members becoming more aware of the vital roles spouses play in shaping not only the working environment of our spouses, but also our ability to effectuate changes through our elected representatives.

The unfortunate aspect of our metamorphosis is that the word is not spreading as quickly as we would hope. Through various calls to arms from the BLET against unjust Carrier practices, and by way of alerts informing us of important legislation coming before Congress that directly affects our lives and the working conditions of our spouses, we have made a difference. If our ranks and networks increase and strengthen across the country, we can do even more.

In the interest of our own lives and the continued prosperity and safety of those who make those record Carrier profits possible, we all need to be involved. Everyone is "crazy" busy these days, but the minimal amount of time it takes to make a difference is well worth it.

As I prepare to turn over the reins of the organization, I reflect back to what I consider an innovative and pivotal era in our history. I have overseen the continued change and improvement of the GIA started by my predecessors. We have helped expand upon our mission and purpose. I thank the BLET for its support during my tenure as International President, and feel strongly about the role BLET spouses can play. We can springboard for change in the future - going forward, not backward. On a final note, we do not want to forget our history and heritage, but we must embrace the future, and it is time we continue to move forward.

 

 

© 2006 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen