BLE-IBT subcommittees begin talks

At an October 3 meeting of the BLE's Advisory Board and the IBT's General Executive Board, dates were announced for meetings of four joint subcommittees charged with the task of exploring a merger of the BLE and Teamsters.

"The process has begun and the committees are starting to meet," BLE International President Don M. Hahs said. "This is an important time for our Brotherhood. A merger with the Teamsters would provide a unique opportunity for BLE members to become part of the world's most powerful transportation union."

The BLE is seeking a merger that will guarantee the maximum amount of autonomy under the Teamsters' umbrella, allowing the BLE to operate independently but subject to the constitution of the IBT.

As reported previously, four joint BLE-IBT subcommittees will review aspects of the merger or affiliation and report to a two-person Merger Committee, co-chaired by BLE President Hahs and IBT General President James Hoffa. The four subcommittees are Constitution & Bylaws, Finance, Legislative and Canada.

The Constitution & Bylaws Subcommittee will hold its first meeting on November 4-6. First Vice-President & Alternate President Ed Rodzwicz is the BLE's co-chairman on the committee, and the IBT's co-chairman is General Secretary-Treasurer C. Thomas Keegel. The primary goal of the Constitution & Bylaws Subcommittee is to produce a Merger Agreement and suitable Bylaws for the BLE as the Rail Conference within the IBT.

The Finance Subcommittee, co-chaired by BLE General Secretary-Treasurer Bill Walpert, has scheduled meetings for October 22-23 and November 6-8. Brother Keegel is also the IBT co-chairman of the Finance Subcommittee. This Subcommittee will research and advise the Merger Committee concerning the appropriate per capita structure for the BLE if merged with the Teamsters.

The Legislative Subcommittee has scheduled its first meeting for October 21. BLE Vice-President & U.S. National Legislative Representative Raymond Holmes is co-chairman of this subcommittee, along with Mike Mathis, who is the Teamsters' Director of Government Affairs. The Legislative Subcommittee will determine the appropriate organization of the BLE's Legislative Boards within the IBT and within the IBT Rail Conference.

The Canadian Subcommittee, co-chaired by Gilles Hallé, BLE Vice-President & Canadian Director, and George Hucker, BLE Vice-President & National Legislative Representative-Canada, will meet with the Teamsters from October 31-November 1. The Teamster co-chairmen are Robert Bouvier, President of Teamsters Canada, and Francois LaPorte, Recording Secretary, Teamsters Local 1998. This Subcommittee will advise the Merger Committee concerning the appropriate structure for Canadian members.

According to the Procedural Agreement, approved on August 1 by the BLE Executive Committee and the IBT General Executive Board, the work of these Subcommittees will be completed in approximately six months. Once the Merger Agreement is agreed upon by the two parties, it will go to each organization for approval according to its Constitution.

The BLE's Constitution & Bylaws requires any proposed merger or affiliation to be approved by a majority of BLE members in a secret ballot. Section 1(e) of the BLE Constitution governs this merger process.


© 2002 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers