Retiring VP Cassidy reflects on past, future

After more than 30 years of service to the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, Vice President Joe Cassidy retired on November 1.

His retirement provided him with the opportunity to speak about some things that have been on his mind. Like union politics.

"I hate politics," said Cassidy, "but I was very good at them."

He was good enough to win election to the office of International Vice President on three consecutive occasions. He also won numerous other elections, holding the office of General Chairman of the Long Island Rail Road for nine years. He was seven times elected to chair the BLE Eastern General Chairmen's Association.

But it wasn't just the politics that he mastered. Cassidy will be remembered for more important accomplishments, which benefited many past, current and future locomotive engineers.

"I played the principle role in securing above-average wage rates, certification allowances and scope rules that guaranteed that locomotive engineers would operate remote control," Cassidy said.

"Throughout my career I amassed a formidable percentage of claims sustained as the employee member of a host of Public Law Boards. I'm very proud of that record.

"I also taught some General Chairmen how to be General Chairmen, and I like to think I was successful in those efforts. And I think those General Chairmen would agree."

Cassidy said the BLE has the right mix of International officers now to handle whatever must be done regarding the UTU situation.

"The people in office now are the people who are the correct ones for the job that has to be done," Cassidy said. "Don Hahs has made all the right decisions since becoming President, and he has an exceptionally bright Advisory Board and Executive Committee. There's no reason why the BLE should not do well in the future."

On August 12, 2002, Brother Cassidy and his wife, Dorothy, celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary. Her August retirement prompted Brother Cassidy to begin thinking about retirement.

"The changes made to Railroad Retirement more or less sealed it for me," said Cassidy, referring to the Railroad Retirement and Survivors' Act of 2001, which allows railroaders with 30 years of service to retire with full pensions at age 60.

Even though Joe Cassidy will be gone, there will still be a Cassidy working as a locomotive engineer on the LIRR - his daughter Kelly, who is also a member of Division 269.

Five generations of Cassidys have worked for the LIRR, a stretch of 127 consecutive years. Joe Cassidy is the fourth and Kelly is the fifth.

"I'm very proud of her," he said. "She has done very well."

Cassidy also has two sons - Joseph III and John.

Cassidy noted and thanked many people who helped him throughout his career. He said former LIRR General Chairman George Clark served as his first mentor, while Ray Starck, George McSherry, and former Conrail General Chairman Dan Riley "provided a firm footing to help me properly represent engineers."

He also thanked former International President John F. Sytsma, former International Vice-President Ron Dean, former First Vice-President Bill Wanke for providing "invaluable help in carving out a career at the ID."

Cassidy said there are many things he will miss about the BLE, but he will always remain proud to have served.

"I will miss contract negotiations and arbitrations," he said. "I enjoyed being an advocate.

"I'm proud to have served the BLE," he concluded. "My years with the BLE will remain among the fondest memories I will ever hold."


© 2002 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers