Posts Tagged ‘labor unions’

BLET Marks Anniversary of Founding

May 8, 2021

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.

Unions Press Biden on Mediation Board Appointments

January 28, 2021

Labor unions in the railroad and aviation industries are seeking to prod President Joseph Biden on appointments to the National Mediation Board.

The 19 unions are seeking to have Deirdre Hamilton appointed to the Board and for sitting member Linda Puchala’s term to be extended.

The Board was created by the Railway Labor Act and the letter from the unions noted it “plays an essential role” in labor-management relations. 

“These workers are best served when the NMB is reliably staffed with public servants who understand the importance of collective bargaining and who, when disputes arise, will seek fair and timely solutions,” the letter said.

Hamilton for the past six years has been the staff attorney to the airline division of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

She has represented workers before federal courts and with the NMB on a wide range of legal issues for the past 20 years.

Puchala has served as an NMB board member since 2009. Before that she was a mediator, senior mediator and the associate director of alternative dispute resolution services over a 10-year career at the NMB.

BLET Workers OK Contract With Susie Q

December 4, 2020

Union workers at the New York, Susqhehanna & Western have ratified a new five-year contract.

The pact governs wages, benefits and work rules for 45 members of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen.

It also includes retroactive pay and general wage increases each year through Jan. 1, 2024, BLET said in a news release.

The contract provides for increased certification pay for locomotive engineers and additional paid time off for all members.

BLET members who have been employed for 25 years or more will receive a sixth week of vacation.

Based in Cooperstown, New York, the NYS&W operates over 400 miles of track in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Retired BLET Lawyer Dies

December 2, 2020

A retired executive of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen has died.

Harold Ross, 89, was the union’s general counsel between 1967 and 2011.

A news release issued by the union, said Ross argued and won two cases before the U.S. Supreme Court: Landers v. Amtrak and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers in 1988, and Interstate Commerce Commission v. Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers in 1987.

Ross was named an honorary member of BLET in 2004, which union officials said it a rare honor bestowed on fewer than 20 people in the organization’s 157-year history.

After joing BLET as a grand chief engineer in 1958, Ross provided legal counsel to 15 BLET presidents.

He is survived by three children. His son, Greg Ross, is the BLET National Division’s director of communications, director of legal affairs and assistant to the office administrator.

Labor Executive Willis Dies

December 1, 2020

A railroad labor union executive has died of injuries that he suffered in a biking accident.

Larry Willis

Larry Willis, 53, was president of the Transportation Trades Department of the AFL-CIO, a position he has held since 2017.

In announcing his death the union noted that Willis had previously served as TTD’s secretary treasurer, general counsel and legislative representative.

He also once worked as an associate and director of legislation for Weil, Gotshal and Manges, and served in various legislative roles on Capitol Hill and in political campaigns.

In his role as TTD president, Willis oversaw the union’s daily operation and served as its spokesperson and chief strategist.

Willis is survived by his wife Amy and daughter Samantha.

DOT Rejects Request for Mandatory Mask Rule

October 6, 2020

A request by labor unions for a rule from the U.S. Department of Transportation that mandates that passengers traveling on airplanes, trains and other forms of commercial transportation wear facial masks has been rejected.

DOT said it turned down the request because the agency “embraces the notion that there should be no more regulation than necessary.”

In a letter to the Transportation Trades Department of the AFL-CIO DOT said that most state, local, and private-sector transportation entities already have mask requirements.

However, the unions countered that the “patchwork of state or local mandates” leaves transportation workers vulnerable to the COVID-19 virus.

In an unrelated development the Federal Transit Administration is offering $10 million in grants for transit agencies to address ways to address the effect of COVID-19 on their systems.

The Public Transportation COVID-19 Research Demonstration Program can be used to fund such matters as cleaning and disinfecting vehicles, equipment, and facilities; exposure mitigation efforts; contactless payment; and measures that strengthen public confidence in transit services.

BLET Reaches Pact with Indiana Short Line

July 3, 2020

The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen said this week it has reached a tentative agreement with the Indiana Southern Railroad.

The pact governs rates of pay, benefits and work rules for 17 members, including locomotive engineers and conductors.

Ratification ballots were mailed June 25 to active members of the BLET employed by the ISRR and are due by July 21.

In a news release, BLET said ISRR members belong to Division 270 located in Washington, Indiana, which is a part of the CP Rail-U.S. General Committee of Adjustment.

The BLET organized the ISRR, which is part of short line holding company Genesee & Wyoming,  in September 2002.

It operates 196 miles of track between Indianapolis and Evansville. Primary commodities hauled include coal and agricultural commodities.

Union Urges Caution Among its Members

June 25, 2020

A union representing track maintenance workers is urging its members to take precautions while working to avoid contracting COVID-19.

The Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees Division of the Teamsters also took aim at Amtrak and Chicago commuter railroad Metra for being negligent in testing and tracing employees for COVID-19.

The union said there has been a rash of positive coronavirus cases among its members at several railroads, estimating 109 members have been affected by a coronavirus exposure.

Of those 15 individuals tested positive and remaining 94 are in a self-contained quarantine.

In a statement, union officials said doctors expect many of those in in quarantine will test positive in the coming days.

Those workers were employed by Amtrak, BNSF, CSX, Canadian National and Norfolk Southern.

Three union members have died from COVID-19.

The union said some of the spread of COVID-19 has come from post-work socializing. It urged its members to be more cautious by isolating and separating as much as possible.

“Go outside to hang out. Keep some distance,” the union told its members.

In the meantime, some union members have established informational picketing in front of the home of Amtrak board chairman Anthony Coscia.

An Amtrak spokeswoman said the passenger performs contact tracing in accordance with federal Center for Diseases Control guidelines and performs no-expense testing for those with symptoms or possible exposure.

However, the union said social distancing is often impossible in its work and it wants monthly testing as well as temperature screenings before work.

After accusing Metra of putting employees and passengers at greater risk, the rail commuter railroad said in a statement that the union’s views were “distorted.”

FRA OKs Union Bid to Extend Appeals Deadlines

June 9, 2020

The Federal Railroad Administration has approved a 60-day extension to two railroad labor unions to file petitions for review with the Locomotive Engineer Review Board and the Operating Crew Review Board.

FRA rules governing certification of locomotive engineers require a petition seeking review of a railroad’s decision to deny certification or recertification must be filed with the LERB no more than 180 days after the date of the railroad’s denial decision.

A petition seeking review of the railroad’s decision to revoke certification must be filed no more than 120 days after the date of the railroad’s denial decision.

Similar rules are in place for seeking review of a railroad decision to deny certification or recertification, or to revoke certification of a conductor.

In its latest action the granted temporary relief from the 180- and 120-day filing deadlines saying the “previously granted relief would be in the public interest, necessary to address the COVID-19 public health emergency and is not inconsistent with railroad safety.”

The extension has been sought by the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, and the SMART Transportation Division.

Union Reaches Pact with WNY&P

May 20, 2020

The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen have reached a tentative contract agreement with the Western New York & Pennsylvania.

The pact covers pay rates, benefits and work rules for about a dozen WNY&P employees.

Ratification ballots have been mailed to active members employed by the WNYP and are due by June 15.

WYNP membership is part of Division 16 and represented by the BLET’s short line department.

The short line railroad extends from Hornell, New York, to Meadville, Pennsylvania, with a 90-mile branch from Machias, New York, to North Driftwood, Pennsylvania.