Hahs discusses Teamsters at IWC opening

SPARKS, Nev. -- More than 200 BLE members and their families gathered in Sparks, Nevada, on June 3 and heard opening remarks by BLE International President Don Hahs at the 63rd annual International Western Convention.

President Hahs received a standing ovation when introduced by GIA President Onita Wayland.

The BLE President gave a brief update on national contract negotiations and spoke about the BLE's proposed merger with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT).

"We plan to get an agreement by any means necessary, but remain hopeful we can get a negotiated agreement," Hahs said.

One of the sticking points remains pay increases. Of the pattern settlements already reached, President Hahs said the TCU agreement was the most attractive in regard to wage increases. The National Carriers Conference Committee (NCCC), however, is pushing for a lower pay package it negotiated with another rail labor organization.

In discussing the Teamsters, President Hahs spoke briefly about the negotiations and acknowledged the power that the combined organization might display.

"All ground transportation under one umbrella, including truck, rail, ports, waterways and Longshoremen, would make a very powerful union," he said.

Hahs told the crowd that members of the BLE's Advisory Board will meet in Cleveland during early July to review and vote on the IBT merger documents. The documents will go to the membership for approval if first ratified by a two-thirds majority of the Advisory Board.

Also during the June 3 opening ceremonies, GIA President Onita Wayland addressed the crowd and gave a brief history of Sparks. Members of the Nevada Army National Guard presented the display of U.S. colors. Members of the Native American Pudumunu 4-H Drum Group presented a special "good luck" greeting and ceremonial dance.

Hotel owner and host John Ascuaga welcomed the locomotive engineers to Sparks and complimented the BLE on remaining strong throughout its 140 year history.

Sparks City Council member Gino Martini provided a welcome address. BLE Nevada State Legislative Board Chairman Joseph Carter also addressed the audience.

The 2003 IWC was organized by Chairman J.L. Valentine and members of BLE Division 158 in Sparks.



© 2003 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers