BLET Marks Anniversary of Founding

The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen will mark its 158th anniversary today.

The union was founded as the Brotherhood of the Footboard on May 8, 1863, in Marshall, Michigan.

It became the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers in 1864 and merged with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters on Jan. 1, 2004, when it became BLET. 

It is the oldest labor union in the Western Hemisphere.

In a news release, BLET officials said the union emerged after locomotive engineers on the Michigan Central became discouraged with pay cuts and the arbitrary dismissal of their firemen. BLET was the first labor organization to obtain contracts with railroads, including the NYC in 1875.

Today, the BLET has hundreds of contracts with railroads and represents locomotive engineers on 98 percent of rail trackage in the United States.

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