BLE-T Division 622

Register an Account
Forgot Login?
BLET Weekly News Recap 10-13
Oct 13, 2023

The BLET exists to promote and protect the rights, interests, and safety of its members through solidarity, aggressive representation, and education.


October 13, 2023

Follow the BLET online and stay up-to-date on all the latest union news and information.
Click the icons below to visit the BLET's social media pages and website.
RAIL SAFETY: Kansas becomes 10th state with two-person crew law

Kansas Governor Laura Kelly implemented an administrative rule on October 11, which mandates two-person train crews.
Gov. Kelly told the Associated Press that two-person crews “will protect workers from the effects of fatigue, prevent train derailments, and reduce risks in the many Kansas communities along our railroad tracks.”
Brother Brandon Nunnenkamp, Chairman of the BLET’s Kansas State Legislative Board, said: “I would like to thank Governor Kelly for her support of rail safety in Kansas. Governor Kelly understands the importance of having two person crews operating trains throughout Kansas. This is not only for the safety of the crew members operating these trains, but for the Kansas residents and the communities we operate through.”
Kansas becomes the 10th state to implement a crew-size law. The others are Ohio, California, Wisconsin, Arizona, West Virginia, Minnesota, Washington, Nevada, and Colorado. 
Governor Kelly implemented the Kansas two-person crew law over objections from the railroad industry. However, states have become impatient with a lack of a federal law or regulation on the issue. Both the Kansas two-person crew law and the one passed in Ohio earlier this year came after the massive chemical release and fire in East Palestine, Ohio. In that case, multiple crew members in the locomotive cab were able to work together and move flammable tank cars away from the derailment scene, proactively reducing the severity of the disaster.
Read more from the Associated Press.

MICHIGAN: Rail safety bills gaining steam 
Brother B.J. Trumble, Chairman of the BLET’s Michigan State Legislative Board, reports that three important rail safety bills are advancing in the Michigan House of Representatives. The three bills (No. 4915, No. 4917 and No. 4918) would establish the following:
• Bill No. 4915 would allow employees and/or their designated union representatives to be present during investigations/inspections; and
• Known collectively as the Amtrak Assault Bill, No. 4917 and No. 4918 would stiffen penalties for anyone who assaults a transportation worker and would make it a felony (instead of a misdemeanor) to assault a transportation worker, including locomotive engineers.
Chairman Trumble said he and other rail union officials testified on behalf of the bills in front of the House Criminal Justice Committee on October 10. Trumble said the Amtrak Assault Bill became necessary after an Amtrak conductor was attacked in the state because a train was late, and another conductor was shot in Detroit. Trumble said his testimony focused on the perspective of locomotive engineers, who often face verbal threats and potential assaults from angry citizens who have climbed onto freight locomotives when trains have blocked highway/rail grade crossings.
Additionally, Trumble said two-person crew bills have been introduced in the Michigan House and Senate. However, they are on hold pending resolution of a lawsuit in Ohio, where the Association of American Railroads sued the state after it passed a two-person crew bill earlier this year.
Brother Trumble said Bills 4915, 4917 and 4918 appear to have strong bipartisan support. He thanked State Representative Samantha Steckloff (D-19th District) for sponsoring the legislation.
LONG TRAINS: BLET presses FRA for Emergency Order on excessive train length
Long trains are risky: A long BNSF train winds through hills and curves in Bealville, Calif., with its distributed power locomotive visible in the distance.
(Photo courtesy: Cory Rusch, BLET Division 659)
Citing numerous recent accidents caused in part by excessively long trains, the BLET has urged the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to issue an Emergency Order establishing a maximum train length of 7,500 feet on the nation’s Class I railroads.
BLET National President Eddie Hall made the request in an October 9 letter to FRA Administrator Amit Bose. President Hall noted that five-mile long trains have recently been put into operation as Class I carriers pursue higher profits under the guise of Precision Scheduled Railroading (PSR). While train length has continued to grow, the Carriers have failed to provide any additional training to engineers regarding how to properly handle these “monstrous” trains.
President Hall acknowledged the FRA’s April 11 Safety Advisory, which instructed the Class I carriers to reexamine the issue of train length, but Hall said it doesn’t go far enough. He is now urging the FRA to act before it’s too late.
He wrote: “While placing a Safety Advisory can shine the necessary light on a safety problem, it cannot address the risks that have been added to the railroad industry due to very long trains. States are seeking legislative action to address the issue as well. This is taking more time than safety will allow. A regulatory standard is needed, but those take a very long time. For this reason, we are requesting an Emergency Order. BLET is also providing a copy of this letter to all Class 1 rail carriers requesting that they take immediate voluntary action to address the absence of a regulatory standard by adding a maximum train length of 7,500 feet to all trains operated. We do not want to wait until the next rail catastrophe to act.”
A copy of President Hall’s letter (PDF) is on the BLET website.
BE PREPARED: BLET Safety Task Force members complete hazmat training
BLET Safety Task Force members completed a course which addressed OSHA and DOT requirements and featured interactive classroom instruction, small group activities, hands-on drills, and a simulated hazmat response in full safety gear.
Last week, 15 members of the BLET Safety Task Force gained valuable knowledge and skill about what to do during a hazardous materials spill on the rails when they completed the Rail Worker Hazardous Materials Training Program’s 40-hour Chemical Emergency Response course. Conducted by the Teamsters Safety and Health Department, the course addressed OSHA and DOT requirements and featured interactive classroom instruction, small group activities, hands-on drills, and a simulated hazmat response in full safety gear.
The 15 Safety Task Force members who completed the training include: Roberto Grajeda, BNSF (Colorado); Dan Cadogen, Keolis (Massachusetts); Ken Abell, BNSF (California); Howie Allington, BNSF (Washington); Dewayne Dehart, Norfolk Southern (Indiana); D.B. Kenner, BNSF (Montana); Brian Fransen, BLET Safety Task Force Coordinator, BNSF (Wyoming); Don Hill, SEPTA (Pennsylvania); Shawn Lawton, STF Assistant Coordinator, CSX (New York); Jim Maynard, Union Pacific (Arizona); Steve Facklam, STF Assistant Coordinator, BNSF (Missouri); Scott Brown, NS (Pennsylvania); Lonnie Swigert; Wheeling & Lake Erie (Ohio); Michael Banks, BNSF (Wisconsin); and John Prokop, UP (Texas).
BLET Vice President Randy Fannon, who heads the BLET Safety Task Force, said: “The STF team went through scenarios that helps identify hazmat issues. Following recent hazmat issues in East Palestine Ohio, Bailey Yard in North Platte, Nebraska, and on October 6 in Sheffield, Alabama, the team participated in review of their incidents that help the Safety Task Force when they are launched to incidents across the country. The team obtained knowledge that will assist in their submissions of recommendations to the parties involved in these types of accidents or releases.”
The training took place October 1-5, 2023, at the Val Jahnke Training Facility in Houston, Texas. Three more rail hazmat training workshops are scheduled for early 2024.

More information and registration available here.

GCA NEWS: Troy Martin reelected General Chairman of BNSF (former C&S, CRIP/JTD, FWD) GCA
Troy R. Martin was elected to the office of General Chairman at the BNSF (former C&S, CRIP/JTD, FWD) General Committee of Adjustment’s quadrennial meeting in Fort Worth, Texas, on October 10, 2023.
The GCA represents approximately 600 active and retired members belonging to six different BLET Local Divisions.
Also elected in the quadrennial meeting were: 1st Vice General Chairman Aubrey A. Rawls, Division 703 (Teague, Texas); 2nd Vice General Chairman Edwin P. Gabel, Division 574 (Amarillo, Texas); 3rd Vice General Chairman Darin K. Wheeler, Division 703 (Wichita Falls, Texas); Secretary-Treasurer Thomas A. Baker, Division 430 (Trinidad, Colo.); Alternate-Secretary-Treasurer Steven S. Owen, Division 736 (Wichita Falls, Texas). Elected to serve as Trustees were: John L. Venditti III, Division 430 (Trinidad, Colo.); Joe R. Berlin II, Division 189 (Fort Worth, Texas); and Larry J. Finkey, Division 186 (Denver, Colo.).
General Chairman Martin is a BNSF locomotive engineer and a member of Division 430 (Trinidad, Colo.). He hired out on May 2, 2005, and joined the BLET on January 1, 2008. Brother Martin was elected in 2009 as a Vice Local Chairman and in 2010 became the Local Chairman for Division 430 (Trinidad, Colo.). He was elected as a 3rd Vice General Chairman at the GCA’s quadrennial meeting in 2015, and elected as 1st Vice General Chairman in 2019. He was elevated to the General Chairman’s position on October 16, 2021.
TENNESSEE: Garland reelected State Legislative Board Chairman
Brother Gregg S. Garland, a member of BLET Division 41 (Nashville, Tenn.), was reelected to his second term as Chairman of the Tennessee State Legislative Board at its quadrennial meeting in Nashville, Tenn., October 3-5, 2023.
The Tennessee State Legislative Board represents approximately 1,100 active and retired members in 11 BLET Divisions.
Also elected at the meeting were: First Vice Chairman Corey J. Williams, Division 610 (Bruceton, Tenn.); Second Vice Chairman Ronnie L. Tate, Division 205 (Chattanooga, Tenn.); and Secretary Treasurer Lee H. Myhan, Division 198 (Chattanooga, Tenn.). Brother Tate was elected to serve as Alternate Secretary-Treasurer.
Brother Garland was elected First Vice Chairman of the Board at its 2019 quadrennial meeting, and then was elevated to the Chairman’s position a short while later following the retirement of outgoing Chairman Jeff B. Rich.
PLAN AHEAD: Mark your calendars for 2024 BLET regional meetings
The BLET’s 2024 Western Regional Meeting will be held in Kansas City, Missouri, the week of June 3rd. The Eastern Regional Meeting will be held in Washington, D.C., the week of July 29th. More information about each meeting will be announced in the coming weeks and months. In the meantime, please mark your calendars and plan to attend one or both of these meetings next year.

Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen
7061 East Pleasant Valley Road, Independence, Ohio 44131

PH (216) 241-2630   |

If you are a member of the BLET, then please consider signing up for the Members’ Area of the BLET website:  


Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen · 7061 East Pleasant Valley Road · Independence, OH 44131 · USA

BLE-T Division 622

Top of Page image
Powered By UnionActive - Copyright © 2023. All Rights Reserved.