GC Pierce reelected by acclamation at BNSF/MRL

General Chairman Dennis Pierce was reelected by acclamation to a third term as General Chairman at the 11th Triennial General Committee Meeting of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe/Montana Rail Link (BNSF/MRL) General Committee.

General Chairman Pierce is a member of BLET Division 687 (Sioux City, Iowa) and has been a BLET member since April 1, 1981. Brother Pierce was elected as a Local Chairman in 1991 and was first elected as a full time Vice General Chairman on the BNSF/MRL General Committee in 1995, elevating to General Chairman in 2001.

"The delegates elected a good team that is dedicated to working together for the best interests of the membership," Pierce said. "For the first time, all of the officers elected at the GcofA meeting were elected by acclamation, truly a sign of solidarity and support for the officers."

Officers reelected by acclamation were 1st Vice Chairman Matt Wilson of BLET Division 104 (Spokane, Wash.); 2nd Vice Chairman Steve Bratka of BLET Division 98 (Lincoln, Neb.); and Secretary-Treasurer Jim Nelson of BLET Division 644 (Galesburg, Ill.). Brother E.G. "Jerry" Laprath of BLET Division 392 (Havre, Mont.) was elected by acclamation to the office of 3rd Vice Chairman, filling the spot vacated by Don May, who did not seek reelection.

Additionally, all alternate officers were elected by acclamation, including: 1st Alternate Vice Chairman K.J. Psota of Division 623 (McCook, Neb.); 2nd Alternate Vice Chairman J.P. Allen of Division 58 (Wishram, Wash.); 3rd Alternate Vice Chairman M.E. Brandt of Division 727 (Sterling, Colo.); and Alternate Secretary-Treasurer M.L. Pancost of Division 622 (Alliance, Neb.).

BLET National President Don M. Hahs was in attendance, and spoke to delegates regarding the new national contract and the general state of the union.

BLET First Vice-President Ed Rodzwicz and National Secretary-Treasurer Bill Walpert also gave presentations to the delegates. First VP Rodzwicz, who is also President of the Teamsters Rail Conference, spoke about various challenges facing the Rail Conference, while NST Walpert discussed the Brotherhood's financial situation and operations of the Standard Building in Cleveland. Vice President and National Legislative Representative John Tolman was also in attendance, speaking to the group on legislative initiatives including H.R. 2095.

NST Walpert, who is also head of the BLET Education & Training Department, assisted with a workshop for Local Chairmen. The workshop was held in conjunction with the BLET's Arbitration Department. BLET Vice President & Director of Arbitration Rick Radek and Assistant Arbitration Director Doug Davidson represented the Arbitration Department. BLET Vice President Marcus Ruef participated in the workshop as well.

Ken Kroeger, BLET Special Representative and Coordinator of the BLET Education and Training Department, assisted in the organization of the workshop.

Gerald Wallin, a professional arbitrator, was the key note speaker for the class. It consisted of two arbitration cases - one with flaws and a second that was "picture perfect." After the workshop, Arbitrator Wallin took questions and also explained exactly what an arbitrator looks for and how important it is for Local Chairman to get everything in the record at the investigation, because it is all arbitrators can look at when the get the case.

Other guests included BNSF General Chairmen Pat Williams and Rick Gibbons, as well as UP General Chairman Tim Donnigan and Montana State Legislative Board Chairman Craig Gilchrist.

The General Committee handled its normal business in session and also celebrated the 30th anniversary of the forming of the General Committee.

"Thirty years ago this year, the former General Committees of the SPS, GN, NP and CB&Q came together and formed a single General Committee," General Chairman Pierce said. "Today, Local Chairmen from all of those former roads as well as MRL sit together not only as Brothers, but as friends."

The BNSF/MRL General Committee of Adjustment represents 3,400 members from 44 separate BLET divisions.



© 2007 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen