President Hahs letter to all NS trainmen

Looking toward the future will benefit members more than dwelling on the past

(BLET Editor's Note: The following is the text of a letter sent to all Norfolk Southern conductors and trainmen by BLET National President Don M. Hahs on June 16.)

Dear Brothers and Sisters:

Over the past month or so, outlandish and outrageous statements, web-postings, DVDs and mailings from the UTU concerning the BLET's A-card campaign on the Norfolk Southern property have rained down on you. Let's be clear, this campaign started because many of you approached the BLET and said you no longer wanted UTU representing you. You wanted what we got when we merged with the Teamsters, the largest and most powerful transportation union in the world.

The communications you have received from UTU have largely dealt with the issues in the past. Look, we can debate and burden you with correspondence concerning the BLE's issue on the Soo Line Railroad in 1994 or the UTU's signing of the infamous Halloween Agreement of 1985, from now until doomsday.

The fact of the matter is the past is the past and there is not a tinker's damn to be done about it. We are concerned about the future. The BLET has a tradition of forward thinking. That tradition will continue.

You are looking for better representation by a union that will fight for a more secure future rather than one that engages in senseless debates about the past. THE BLET-TEAMSTERS IS THAT UNION.

If you sign an A-card for representation by the BLET-Teamsters and elect the BLET-Teamsters as your representative, will it solve all your problems? The answer is: IT WILL BE A DAMN FINE START.

When the BLET begins representing you as conductors and trainmen, you will decide whether you want to have your own general committee of adjustment and your own divisions or whether you want to be a part of the existing structure of the BLET. That decision will be up to you.

Regarding existing crew consist agreements; those agreements remain in full force and effect when the BLET becomes your representative. ONLY NEGOTIATIONS AND MEMBERSHIP RATIFICATION CAN CHANGE THOSE AGREEMENTS. Only conductors and trainmen will vote on the ratification of an agreement that affects conductors and trainmen. Therefore, if there is any change in crew consist agreements, only your votes on ratification will change it.

No union, especially in the rail industry, can guarantee you everything you desire. However, the BLET-Teamsters has already provided a new approach to bargaining with the carriers through the development of the Rail Labor Bargaining Coalition (RLBC). The seven unions of the RLBC represent nearly 85,000 rail workers. Since the 1930s, the NCCC has assumed master contract bargaining on behalf of the majority of the carriers. For the first time in decades, rail unions are joining in a coalition to make sure our members get a fair contract. By presenting a unified front at the bargaining table, members of the Rail Coalition have taken an important step in combating rail management's divide and conquer bargaining strategy.

The BLET-Teamsters are using every resource of the nation's largest and most powerful transportation union in this round of bargaining. We will continue to do so in all future endeavors on behalf of our members. Everything the BLET has asked of the Teamsters, they have provided tenfold.

Now, the central question for you, as a UTU member, is: ARE YOU STRONGER STANDING ALONE OR ARE YOU STRONGER STANDING UNITED WITH OTHER RAIL UNIONS IN THE TEAMSTERS RAIL CONFERENCE? The Teamsters have the most powerful negotiating skills and the most effective political power of any union in the country. Why not be a part of that POWER! Rail labor needs to stand together, protecting each other rather than being whipsawed by the real enemy ­ the Carriers ­ whose profits are measured in billions of dollars.

WHY THE TEAMSTERS?

Because the Teamsters' history of negotiating strong contracts is unparalleled. Teamster contracts have among the highest wages, best benefits, safest workplace and other standards.

Because, the Teamsters have power! Political Power. Negotiating Power. Financial power. Organizing power. Research Power. Member Power.

The Teamsters are America's strongest and largest transportation union. With 1.4 Million members in 500 Locals and 40 Joint Councils, the Teamsters have extraordinary financial resources - $140 million a year at the International level and $550 million a year at the Local union level. The Rail Conference is a key component of the Teamsters' vision of a comprehensive transportation union ­ rails and roads, ports and planes.

Contrary to popular belief, the Teamsters are not mostly a truckers' union. In fact, truck drivers represent less than 10 percent of Teamsters members. The Teamsters represent workers from a wide cut of America's transportation workforce, including workers in rail, ports, air cargo, passenger air, trucking and package delivery.

The Teamsters dedicates $15 million annually to organizing and conducts more NLRB and NMB elections every year than any other union in the U.S. Over the past ten years, the Teamsters membership has remained stable, while other unions' membership has declined.

The Teamster Union is this nation's most powerful political union, bar none. Member power merged with financial power translates into political power.

The future for railroad workers now is uncertain. The BLET-Teamsters promise to use every resource available to provide you with the best representation and best collective bargaining agreements possible. We feel that this can be better accomplished using the strength of the Teamsters and the unity of the Rail labor Bargaining Coalition (RLBC). Coming together, staying united, we are all stronger.

 

In Solidarity,

 

National President

 

© 2005 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen