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BLE mobilizes on CSXT after death of engineer

'We marched and we warned them! CSX safety must improve'

CLEVELAND ­ About 4,300 locomotive engineers concerned about their safety struck CSX Transportation at 12:00 the morning of Thursday, June 12. The previous Saturday, June 7, CSXT Engineer and BLE Division 190 Member Kelvin N. Winters was killed when his freight train collided with another CSXT train on the same tracks. In addition, CSXT was recently investigated and fined by the Federal Railroad Administration for violating federal rail safety laws.

In April, about 500 BLE locomotive engineers and their families conducted the Operation Thanos March & Rally in Washington D.C. to warn CSXT and other major railroads about poor safety and warning of a strong reaction if improvements were not made. The BLE mobilization briefly visited the headquarters of the Association of American Railroads during the march.

"We marched April 28 and we warned CSX and the other major railroads that they should expect a reaction from us when the next preventable death occurred," stated BLE International President Clarence Monin. "With this Safety Strike against CSX, they now know that we are not bluffing. Engineers have had enough and we'll use any and every legal option available to us to get them to install current safety technology. With off-the-shelf collision avoidance technology, freight and passenger trains don't have to collide. Locomotive engineers are not willing to die anymore!"

The BLE's Safety Strike lasted up to three hours in some of the 20 states in which CSXT operates.

After the strike, the BLE president attended the funeral of Winters in Barboursville, W.Va. Brother Winters, who died only a week before his thirty-first birthday, is the twenty-second BLE member and the ninth engineer killed while running CSXT trains or running over the railroad's tracks during the last four years.

Including other employees and passengers, the death toll is in the hundreds. ·

After 4,300 engineers in 20 states mobilized in a Safety Strike against CSXT, BLE members and their families attended the funeral services and burial of Brother Kelvin Winters of BLE Huntington, W.Va. Division 190.

President Monin confers with Div. 190 Local Chairman P. D. 'Phil' Henry (right) and BLE Safety Task Force Accident Investigation Team Member Brent Boggs about the circumstances surrounding Winters' fatal collision with another CSX train.


Impartial AFL-CIO judge okays BLE accepting trainmen members

WASHINGTON, D.C. ­ An AFL-CIO impartial judge has ruled against the United Transportation Union's latest allegation against the BLE.

In what is called an Article XX procedure, the AFL-CIO ruled that the BLE and its local divisions have the right to accept conductors and other train service employees into membership and to allow them to pay lower dues.

In Case No. 96-072, Impartial Umpire Paul Weiler, in his determination issued by AFL-CIO President John J. Sweeney on June 18, concluded simply, "I rule that the BLE did not violate Article XX in the circumstances of this case."

"We are now free to immediately remind and communicate the AFL-CIO's decision to BLE local divisions that they are in compliance and that they may continue to take in conductors who wish to join our union, in accordance with the BLE dues policy that has been in place," noted BLE International President Clarence Monin.

"As in the past, the BLE will continue to accept and welcome conductors and other employees who exercise their freedom to choose the BLE."

Article XX of the AFL-CIO's constitution forbids affiliates from raiding each other's memberships.

The UTU had accused the BLE of raiding by having available to train service employees the option to join the BLE at lower dues, and the UTU cited BLE Los Angeles Division 662 (BNSF) and Layfayette, Ind. Division 7 (CSXT) as violators of the AFL-CIO regulations. The BLE divisions' memberships have grown substantially during the last year.

The UTU claimed that the BLE was actively inducing UTU members to join the BLE. The "active inducement factor" was the key to the raiding charge and the neutral's decision in rejecting the UTU's attack.

Weiler noted that it is the dues policy of the BLE to permit its members who have not established seniority as locomotive engineers to pay less than the full amount of dues that are paid by fully certified engineers.

"The BLE has also historically incorporated into its international constitution a 'graduated' dues rate structure," pointed out Weiler.

"Article XX doctrine also raises a significant obstacle to this UTU claim, at least in its current format," he said.

"I assume for purposes of this case that if the BLE were to have actively induced even a single railroad conductor to change unions and dues payments, this would constitute a violation of Article XX"

Professor Weiler continued, "However, the essence of this UTU complaint is that the mere presence of a discounted dues rate in the BLE constitution satisfies this active inducement factor the mere availability of such a lower dues rate to employees who choose to belong to the BLE rather than to the UTU would not seem to constitute a violation of Article XX."

Representing the BLE in its successful defense against the UTU's latest raiding accusation were Brother Monin, First Vice-President & Alternate President Edward Dubroski, General Counsel Harold Ross, Assistant to the International President David Ditzel and Executive Staff Member Chuck Anderson.

Next focus is division feedback

CLEVELAND ­ Basing its finding on the outcomes of the Membership Focus Group meetings in Kansas City, the BLE Advisory Board has identified five strategic initiatives and a series of activities which our union might undertake, as a comprehensive strategic plan, for the next five years.

Working with outside strategic planning facilitator Dr. John Yankey and taking recent direction from the 101 members who assembled in Kansas City during March, the BLE's leadership is proposing specific initiatives and activities. Below, they appear in the survey form which was mailed to all BLE division presidents this month.

A June 9 letter from BLE International President Clarence Monin to U.S. and Canadian division presidents asks the local officers to discuss these proposals with their respective memberships and then to return the surveys to the International Office by August 15. The survey questions are presented below to facilitate members' input at division meetings.

"These proposed initiatives and activities are heavily influenced by earlier feedback from the membership and the recommendations," said Brother Monin. "The Advisory Board and Dr. Yankey worked long and hard on developing these recommendations to present to the membership. Before finalizing a strategic plan for our union, the Advisory Board wants to provide members another opportunity to provide input."


To rebuild, revitalize, reposition, refocus, and reorganize, these are BLE's strategic initiatives framing the organization's activities over the next five years. Annually developed goals and objectives implementing these strategic initiatives will provide the direction for the organization to successfully pursue its mission and achieve its vision. Their attainment will assure that the BLE will be a major voice in the labor movement and a prime contributor to the quality of life of its members and their families well into the 21st century.
Strengthen the confidence of current and potential members as to the value of the BLE in enhancing their quality of life.
1.A Should any of the proposed activities be deleted from the strategic plan? If yes, please indicate the proposed deletions by their specific numbers.
1.B Should other activities be incorporated in the strategic plan? If yes, please indicate the number and wording for each proposed activity.
1.1 Develop /implement a progressive program to influence contractual negotiations and/or legislation to:
· Improve engineers' working conditions;
· Reaffirm engineers as the highest paid crew member;
· Establish practices limiting miles, hours of service, and length of trains;
· Provide increased retirement and disability benefits;
· Provide protection and increased security in railroad mergers/short lines;
· Protect engineers' scope in the face of technological change, e.g., "black box"; and
· Encourage carriers to establish an education fund which BLE members can access to develop new knowledge and skills.
1.2 Monitor, analyze, and report on major collective bargaining trends and bargaining strategies.
1.3 Continue to improve communications with members and support their communications with each other by:
· Upgrading periodically BLE's technologically integrated system;
· Establishing a range of tutorials on the BLE web site;
· Developing and offering regularly scheduled leadership development opportunities and other educational workshops; and
· Strengthening organizational capacity to video and widely distribute tapes regarding special issues or educational sessions.
1.4 Continue to promote Mobilization Rallies and utilize, more systematically, the Mobilization Network to disseminate information;
1.5 Renew efforts to establish a wage system based on parity.
1.6 Implement an organization-wide network of peer support groups at the Division level.
Revitalize the BLE by launching a multi-year campaign to increase and diversify membership.
2.A Should any of the proposed activities be deleted from the strategic plan? If yes, please indicate the proposed deletions by their specific numbers.
2.B Should other activities be incorporated in the strategic plan? If yes, please indicate the number and wording for each proposed activity.
2.1 Conduct marketing research to identify recruitment targets and strategies.
2.2 Develop and implement a comprehensive plan for recruiting and organizing, including considering crafts inside the transportation industry and engineers in other countries.
2.3 Initiate an outreach program with a message emphasizing sisterhood/brotherhood.
2.4 Implement recruitment activities targeting trainees and new engineers.
2.5 Implement a Brotherhood-wide mentoring program.
2.6 Recognize and honor Divisions that excel in membership recruitment.
2.7 Explore mergers and consolidations with other unions.
Position the BLE to be the major force in the railroad industry which can speak forcefully on public issues affecting members' lives.
3.A Should any of the proposed activities be deleted from the strategic plan? If yes, please indicate the proposed deletions by their specific numbers.
3.B Should other activities be incorporated in the strategic plan? If yes, please indicate the number and wording for each proposed activity.
3.1 Extend State/Provincial Legislative Boards to all states/provinces.
3.2 Continue to develop a mentoring program for State/Provincial Legislative Boards.
3.3 Conduct training for Division Legislative Representatives and members regarding techniques for influencing legislators.
3.4 Continue to collaborate with the AFL-CIO in its campaign to define and reposition America's unions.
3.5 Partner with other unions in working on common legislative and regulatory issues.
3.6 Develop and promote alliances with civic and religious organizations that share BLE's agenda for public safety.
3.7 Utilize the AFL-CIO's Transportation Trades Department (Rail Division) to lobby Congress on common issues.
3.8 Implement a plan to identify, recruit, and train BLE leaders/members to run for political office and/or to seek political appointments.
3.9 Expand efforts to educate the general public and political candidates regarding BLE's public policy agenda.
3.10 Increase BLE's Political Action Committee donations.
3.11 Participate in State/Provincial efforts to effect legislative changes to allow voting by mail.
3.12 Implement a comprehensive, coordinated campaign targeting voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives.
3.13 Develop and coordinate a comprehensive plan for members, spouses, and retired members to communicate with legislators.
Carry out a highly visible public relations and marketing campaign to gain broader understanding and support of BLE.
4.A Should any of the proposed activities be deleted from the strategic plan? If yes, please indicate the proposed deletions by their specific numbers.
4.B Should other activities be incorporated in the strategic plan? If yes, please indicate the number and wording for each proposed activity.
4.1 Coordinate an electronic and written media initiative to promote the professionalism of the craft.
4.2 Continue to support a National Rail Safety Day.
4.3 Develop messages emphasizing engineers' contributions to public safety.
4.4 Continue messages focusing on carriers' "corporate responsibility" to adhere to the highest standards of public safety.
4.5 Form partnerships with environmentalists, scientists, and public interest advocates to promote rail transportation over less efficient options.
4.6 Strengthen the linking of BLE's promotional efforts to public relations and marketing efforts of the AFL-CIO and other unions.
4.7 Participate in public relations efforts carried out by Joint Labor Councils.
Revamp BLE's structure and operations to best support the pursuit of its mission and vision.
5.A Should any of the proposed activities be deleted from the strategic plan? If yes, please indicate the proposed deletions by their specific numbers.
5.B Should other activities be incorporated in the strategic plan? If yes, please indicate the number and wording for each proposed activity.
5.1 Explore the ramifications (financial, managerial, political, etc.) of selling the Standard Building and/or relocating the International Division to the Washington, D. C. area.
5.2 Conduct a study to determine how the current structure could be streamlined and refocused to pursue these strategic initiatives.
5.3 Carry out an analysis of the positives and negatives of consolidating Divisions, GC of A, and Legislative Boards.
5.4 Study the feasibility of establishing a General Committee to focus solely on issues related to short-lines/spin-offs and to implement regional short-lines negotiations.
5.5 Establish a Political Training Program in conjunction with the Legislative Department and the Education and Training Department.
5.6 Promote and encourage the establishment of an Educational Officer position at the Division level.
5.7 Develop new methods to generate additional streams of revenue, including considering:
· Selling advertising in BLE publications;
· Re-establishing an insurance business;
· Issuing credit cards; and
· Purchasing short-lines through Employee Stock Option Programs.
5.8 Conduct a feasibility study of a wage related dues structure and changing the dues collection process.
5.9 Carry out an analysis of the feasibility of establishing BLE as the federal certification agency for all engineers. ·

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