BLE scores Tex Mex victory

A majority of workers on the Texas-Mexican Railway selected the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers as their designated collective bargaining representative in a National Mediation Board certified election on July 15.

One-hundred and nine of 115 eligible voters cast ballots, and a 60-49 majority voted for the BLE over the United Transportation Union.

BLE International President Don Hahs recognized the many Tex Mex employees who spent time campaigning for the BLE. He also thanked Special Representative Tom Miller for helping guide the representation election to a successful conclusion. He also thanked the AFL-CIO and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters for assisting in the BLE's organizing campaign.

Following the victory, President Hahs revealed portions of the BLE's organizing strategy that made the campaign a success. He said the BLE's affiliation with the AFL-CIO and its pending merger/affiliation with the Teamsters swayed many votes in favor of the BLE.

The AFL-CIO and IBT participated in the BLE's letter writing campaign, and letters from AFL-CIO President John Sweeney and Teamster President James Hoffa were delivered to all Tex Mex employees.

These letters explained why the Tex Mex workers should support the BLE over an organization not affiliated with the AFL-CIO, and stated that a fight against the BLE is a fight against all of labor.

"I thank Presidents Sweeney and Hoffa for their participation in our organizing drive," President Hahs said. "Their letters had a tremendous effect."

President Hahs also thanked AFL-CIO President Sweeney for dispatching organizer Ed Tynes to the property to assist the BLE. He spent a great deal of time in the field with Tex Mex workers explaining the benefits of belonging to a union affiliated with the AFL-CIO.

In addition to AFL-CIO and Teamster influence, the BLE was assisted by some of its own. Special Representative Tom Miller played an integral role in the BLE's success. He worked closely with several Tex Mex employees who spent weeks campaigning on BLE's behalf, including Tavy Villarreal Jr., Caesar Carrera, David Snow, J.J. Vara, and George Leyendecker.

"Brother Miller and our new Tex Mex members deserve congratulations for their hard fought victory," President Hahs said. "On behalf of the men and women of the BLE, I thank them."

The BLE victory concludes a nearly three-year battle for representation rights on Tex Mex.

In September of 1999, the BLE petitioned the National Mediation Board to hold a representation election for only the locomotive engineer craft. The UTU International delayed the election, arguing that, "The proper craft or class on Tex Mex is Train and Engine Service Employees."

The NMB decided the issue in March of 2000, ruling in favor of the UTU's petition to combine operating crafts and dismissing the BLE's petition. The NMB ruled that because of the creation of a single operating craft, a two-year ban on representation elections was necessary to promote "labor stability" on the Tex Mex.

Once the two-year ban was lifted, the BLE petitioned the NMB again, seeking to hold a representation election for the combined "train and engine service employee" craft, which was forced upon the employees by the UTU petition. The results, 60-49 in favor of the BLE, were certified by the NMB on July 15.

"While we don't agree with the concept of combining operating crafts, the craft of train and engine service employee was forced on the workers by the UTU's previous petition, and we were required to work under the confines of the NMB's decision," President Hahs said.


© 2002 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers