Statement by BLE President Don M. Hahs

You have spoken.

On the question of merging our ranks with those of the UTU, by a vote of 17,251 to 7,425, you have clearly, overwhelmingly, stated your preference. By as lopsided a margin as one could imagine, you have said, "no."

All of us who respect democracy -- a core value of our Brotherhood and at the heart of our union's traditions -- understand that that issue is decided. Conclusively.

Now we must move forward from there.

We have big issues facing us that are very important to every BLE member: Fighting for a contract. Making our work as safe as is humanely possible. Seeing that the Railroad Retirement bill is signed by the President. Much, much more that affects our daily lives.

But we would be nave to think that the merger vote is the end of the argument. It should be. Unfortunately, if you read what the UTU is putting out on its website, it seems very clear that they intend to continue this war and fire the next shot on the Kansas City Southern property.

So, even as we move forward with our other objectives, we must first prepare to fight back over whether or not we have the right to continue our existence as the senior rail labor organization in North America. Without hesitation. Without reservation. With every resource we've got.

As I stated at the convention, I will have every international officer, special representative and all others who are willing to join in our defense on that property. We will work day and night for as long as it takes until we successfully stop the attempt to destroy your right to belong to the union that represents and fights for your craft, the BLE.

We will call upon all the friends and allies who've been standing by us during this struggle: The AFL-CIO, the other rail unions, the leaders of every union in the transportation industry, every union member in North America. As you've seen in the past, we are not alone.

This will be an all-out effort - one in which your help, your voice are vital to our ultimate success.

I call upon every member of our proud and honorable organization to put aside all differences and join together in one unified team. We have a mandate to fulfill and I intend to honor it with every ounce of honesty and integrity in my being.


2001 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers