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BLET Weekly News Recap, 2-23-24
Feb 23, 2024

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


February 23, 2024

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Woman killed by remote controlled locomotive in Buffalo, renews questions about trains operated without engineers in control
Last week, on February 16, a woman was struck and killed by a remote controlled locomotive (RCL) in CSX Transportation’s Frontier Yard in Buffalo, New York. This is at least the second time in the past year that a CSX RCL has been involved with hitting a local resident in a neighborhood bisected by CSX tracks in Buffalo. Last June, an 8-year-old child lost his leg to an RCL at almost the same spot. Frontier Yard, like many rail yards, is not completely closed to the public. Whenever RCLs are used in uncontrolled environments they pose a significant public safety risk. BLET has been outspoken on this issue. BLET National President Eddie Hall in a guest editorial in the Houston Chronicle raised questions about the safety of RCLs and said their use, especially outside of rail yards, should be ended.

Photo courtesy: Cory Rusch, BLET Division 659
General Chairman Bunten talks C3RS on podcast

Want to know more about the BLET’s recently signed Confidential Close Call Reporting System (C3RS) pilot program with Norfolk Southern? Listen to a podcast featuring BLET General Chairman Scott Bunten (Norfolk Southern-Eastern Lines GCA). In the 10-minute discussion produced by Youngstown, Ohio television station WFMJ, Brother Bunten talks about the significance of C3RS to BLET members and the communities served by NS. 

Two-person crew bill advances to Governor’s desk in Virginia; Ohio legislature takes up measure to honor fallen Brother Lou Shuster
Virginia State Legislative Board Chairman Tim Craver reports that the state’s two-person crew bill is now awaiting for the Governor’s signature. Senate Bill143 was approved by both chambers of the state’s legislature and is now waiting action under the state’s 7-day rule. That means if the legislative body submits it to the Governor during session, the Governor will have 7 days to act on it. If the body decides to submit it to the Governor after session, then the Governor will have 35 days to act. This year’s session ends on March 9.
“This is a big win in Virginia for rail safety, for the public, and for the men and women working on Virginia’s railroads,” Brother Craver said.
Many BLET members were on hand along with Ohio Rep. Sean Brennan to throw their support behind HB 381 that would rename a northeast Ohio highway interchange to honor fallen Brother Lou Shuster.
Meanwhile, Ohio State Legislative Board Chairman John Esterly reports that the Ohio legislature is considering a measure to honor fallen BLET Division 607 President Louis P. Shuster. House Bill 381 would designate the interchange between I-480 and West 150th Street in Cleveland as the “Louis P. Shuster Memorial Interchange.” At a committee hearing on February 13, Rep. Sean Brennan and BLET Division 607 Local Chairman Pat Redmond both gave testimony to a packed room with BLET members from across the state in attendance. Esterly said the bill was passed unanimously out of Committee and should see a floor vote in the House in April. Brother Shuster was tragically killed in a collision at a Norfolk Southern rail yard in Cleveland in early 2023.
To see the testimony from Rep. Brennan and Brother Redmond, please advance to just before the 11-minute mark in this video.
Esterly also reports that the BLET is working in conjunction with the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes Division in Ohio to support HB 372. The “Stop, Look, and Listen” rail safety bill would require drivers to stop, look, and listen for on-track maintenance equipment when approaching railroad crossings. Testimony and discussion regarding HB 372 begins just after the 42-minute mark here.

To view photo highlights from these hearings, please click here.
BLET Auxiliary welcomes new members in Wisconsin, Virginia
Above: Badger State Auxiliary No. 209 was officially organized in Green Bay, Wisconsin on October 14, 2023. Below: BLET Auxiliary 804 was organized in Richmond, Virginia on February 10, 2024. Several BLET officers were on hand at both ceremonies to lend support.
The BLET National Division is proud to recognize the success of the BLET Auxiliary in organizing two new Auxiliaries in recent months. On October 14, 2023, Badger State Auxiliary No. 209 was officially organized in Green Bay, Wisconsin. And on February 10, 2024, Auxiliary 804 was organized in Richmond, Virginia. 
Please visit the BLET Auxiliary website for information about organizing a local unit of the Auxiliary in your area, or to inquire about joining the Auxiliary as a Member-At-Large. 
• View the Wisconsin photo gallery here.
• View the Virginia photo gallery here.
RRB announces Spring 2024 Pre-Retirement Seminars
The U.S. Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) has announced its schedule of Pre-Retirement Seminars for Spring 2024. This popular program is designed for union officers and railroad employees and their spouses planning to retire within five years. Pre-Retirement Seminars are an opportunity for attendees to familiarize themselves with the retirement benefits available to them and also guide them through the application process. Advance on-line registration is required for those wishing to attend. 
For a full list of dates and locations, please visit the National Division website.
Labor leader and Civil Rights activist A. Philip Randolph founded the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters 
Asa Philip Randolph (1889-1979) was the founder of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, the first African American-led union to receive a charter from the American Federation of Labor (AFL). In addition to serving as a union leader, Randolph was a civil rights activist. He had a prominent voice in the early Civil Rights movement and helped to successfully lobby the federal government to end racist practices in defense industries and the armed services. Randolph also was the head of the March on Washington in 1963, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I Have A Dream” speech.
At its peak, the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters had more than 18,000 members across Canada, Mexico, and the United States. Membership in the union dropped steadily with the decline in rail travel in the U.S. In the 1960s, the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters merged with the Brotherhood of Railway and Airline Clerks (BRAC), now known as the Transportation Communications International Union (TCU).
Hausman elected State Legislative Board Chairman
The BLET’s Nebraska State Legislative Board held its quadrennial meeting on February 13 and 14, 2024. Brother Adam E. Hausman, a BNSF Railway locomotive engineer and member of Division 621 (Wymore, Nebraska), was elected as the new Chairman. He will replace outgoing Chairman Pat S. Pfeifer, who is retiring after a railroad career that began in 1990. Brother Pfeifer served as Chairman from 2013-2024.
Brother Hausman hired out with the BNSF in 2011 and joined the BLET in April 2012. Previously, he served Division 621 as Legislative Representative for two terms, and served the Nebraska SLB as First Vice Chairman from 2020-2024.
Also elected were: First Vice Chairman Travis D. Kuenning, Division 388 (North Platte, Neb.); Second Vice Chairman Sonny R. Fankhauser, Division 98 (Lincoln, Neb.); and Secretary-Treasurer Brad A. Gerdts, Division 98 (Lincoln, Neb.). Elected to serve as Trustees were: Randall D. Goltl, Division 623 (McCook, Neb.); Shawn M. Miller, Division 622 (Alliance, Neb.); and Guadalupe J. Gonzales, Division 303 (Morrill, Neb.). The Nebraska SLB represents more than 1,700 active and retired members from eight BLET Divisions.
Scholarship deadlines approaching soon
BLET members and their families are reminded of two scholarship application deadlines that are quickly approaching: March 1 is the deadline for the James R. Hoffa Memorial Scholarship Fund; and March 29 is the deadline for the Teamsters Scholarship Fund. Additional scholarship opportunities are listed in the 2024 BLET Scholarship Directory.
Let us know if you plan to speak out at NJ Transit's public meetings on fare increases
BLET billboards highlighting NJ Transit's misplaced priorities appeared throughout the state in 2023.
Last week, we issued a call for BLET members and our supporters to attend a series of in-person public hearings beginning Monday, March 4 through Friday, March 8, hosted by NJ Transit regarding a 15 percent fare increase. BLET members are encouraged to attend and make their voices heard regarding NJ Transit’s misplaced priorities and lack of fair treatment for locomotive engineers during contract negotiations. 
In last week’s article, we included an email address for you to let us know if you plan to attend. Unfortunately, the Google address provided is no longer functional. Please use this email address instead:

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

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