Ballot deadline: Dec. 10

BLE members to vote again on proposed merger with UTU

Members will face one of the biggest decisions in the 138-year history of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers this month when they receive ballots to vote on a proposed merger with the United Transportation Union.

The ballots were mailed on November 7 and are due by December 10 to the American Aribtration Association (AAA), the neutral third party retained to tablulate the results.

If a majority of members approve the merger, the Unification Agreement and Constitution of the newly established union will become effective January 1, 2002.

The merged union would be named United Transportation Union-Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers (UTU-BLE), and the logos of both unions would be retained.

In a vote certified on October 29, members of the UTU voted to approve the merger by an almost six-to-one ratio. The UTU vote was 23,368 in favor of the merger and 4,146 opposed.

The tally was certified by the AAA. The referendum had been finalized on September 17, but the counting of the ballots was delayed by a lawsuit brought by three BLE officers.

The lawsuit challenged the voting process used by BLE in the first referendum, in which ballots were mailed on August 6. The UTU vote was not challeged in the lawsuit.

As a result of an out-of-court settlement reached by attorneys representing the BLE and the three officers, the BLE agreed to destroy all ballots cast in the first referendum and re-ballot the membership using new, secret ballots.

The BLE also agreed to allow both U.S. and Canadian ballots to be counted together. In the first referendum, Canadian ballots were cast and counted separately. If a majority of Canadian members had voted against the merger while a majority of U.S. members voted in favor, then the Canadian BLE membership would not have been a part of the newly formed union on Jan. 1, 2002. However, that situation never arose as the ballots were destroyed before they were counted.

If approved, the merger would create the AFL-CIO’s second-largest transportation union and largest railroad union, with nearly 200,000 active and retired members. Side Letter #1 of the Unification Agreement confirms, “the officers of (the) New Organization shall promptly apply for membership in the AFL-CIO and the CLC.” The new union would be based in Cleveland.

Due to the extreme importance of this referendum, the BLE is working to make sure that there is a high voter turnout. As a result, members of the BLE’s National Mobilization Team are conducting informational workshops thorughout the U.S. and Canada. Special “get out the vote” flyers have also been posted on bulletin boards in the yard offices, and are available for printing from the BLE website.

In addition, the BLE has established a toll-free hotline for members who have not received their ballots, or for those who need a new copy of the Unification Agreement and Constitution. That number is: (800) 529-5218.

For late-breaking information on the proposed merger of the BLE with the UTU, members are encouraged to visit .


2001 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers