BLE, Teamsters seek to organize IC&E

The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters are pooling their organizing power in an effort to bring union representation to more than 250 workers employed by the Iowa, Chicago & Eastern Railroad (IC&E).

On November 18, the joint IBT/IBLE Rail Operating Employees' Council held its first-ever rally in Davenport, Iowa. The rally kicked off the National Mediation Board's distribution of ballots in the month-long representation election. Votes will be tabulated on December 17.

At the Davenport rally, two large Teamster trucks - one from Chicago and one from Indianapolis - served as rally headquarters for BLE and Teamster representatives. The trucks were parked at two separate locations in the Quad Cities area where IC&E employees report for work.

"Employees were free to stop by, talk to BLE and Teamster members, and learn that we are all about," said Chuck Hintz, Chairman of the BLE's Iowa State Legislative Board.

Most of the rail employees, however, are already familiar with the BLE. Most of the IC&E employees who are seeking union representation are former BLE members. In July, the Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern Railroad (DM&E) purchased the I&M Rail Link (also known as IMRL) and changed its name to Iowa, Chicago & Eastern. In doing so, the company also abolished union representation.

"We are working to reorganize the property and the Teamsters have shown a tremendous amount of support," BLE President Don Hahs said.

The DM&E, which owns 1,100 miles of track, purchased the IMRL, which owned 1,400 miles of track, for a reported $150 million. The former IMRL tracks connect the Twin Cities, Chicago and Kansas City. DM&E is in the process of upgrading its system to carry coal from Wyoming's Powder River Basin across South Dakota and southern Minnesota.

The BLE and IBT agreed to begin merger discussions in February, and the talks have proceeded throughout the year. While the two organizations are not merged, the joint IBT/BLE Rail Operating Employees' Council allows them to work together in organizing efforts.

BLE Special Representatives Tom Miller and Jim Bradford helped organize the campaign, along with Bill McCabe, President of Teamsters Local 371.

In addition to Brother Bradford and Brother Hintz, Union Pacific (CNW Lines) Vice General Chairman Mike Elsberry and BLE Division 125 Legislative Rep. Pat Johnson helped with the event.

From left: BLE Special Rep Jim Bradford and Bill McCabe, President of Teamsters Local 371.

BLE and Teamster members at a joint rally to organize the IC&E Railroad.


© 2002 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers