BLE-T Division 622

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BLET Weekly News Recap, 3-1-24
Mar 01, 2024

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


March 1, 2024

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BLET General Chairmen say proposed changes for NS by hedge fund Ancora are “bad for investors,” “reckless,” and “likely to lead to more train wrecks”
The BLET General Chairmen who represent members at Norfolk Southern (NS) have taken the side of current railroad leadership as hedge fund Ancora Holdings attempts to take over the company and double-down on Precision Scheduled Railroading. Support for the railroad’s current leadership team stems in part from their efforts to improve safety via the Confidential Close Call Reporting System pilot program.
In February, Cleveland-based Ancora Holdings disclosed that it had taken a $1 billion stake in NS and planned to stage a proxy battle to replace the railroad’s board and its chief executive, Alan Shaw. Since the initial announcement, the group has nominated a majority slate of directors to the railroad’s board, proposing that the company should be run by former United Parcel Service executive Jim Barber along with Jamie Boychuk, who was formerly in an executive role at CSX.
General Chairman Jerry G. Sturdivant (NS-Southern Lines GCA) said: “Ancora has been pointing to the East Palestine derailment as a failure by Alan Shaw and his team, but we believe that the PSR model is directly linked to the East Palestine failure. Shaw was only on the job for a few months prior to the disaster. Since the derailment last year, NS’ CEO has risen to the occasion and, through his leadership, NS has become a safer, more efficient and customer focused company again. Having a CEO like Barber with zero railroad experience and a Chief Operating Officer such as Boychuk wedded to the worst aspects of PSR would likely lead to more, not fewer costly train wrecks.”
General Chairman Scott R. Bunten (NS-Eastern Lines GCA) said: “From our vantage point and from what we’ve learned from our union brothers and sisters at CSX, Boychuk was reckless and ran CSX operations into the ground before he was run out by CSX’s management team. Ancora wants to turn back the clock and return to the failed Precision Scheduled Railroading business model with Boychuk’s help that the other Class I railroads are now abandoning.”
General Chairman Dewayne L. Dehart (NS-Northern Lines) said: “I am a shareholder and I also vote hundreds of thousands of shares of NS stock for BLET as a fiduciary of the BLET NS 401(k) Plan. I can assure you I will be voting all shares in favor of Alan Shaw and his team. The leaders of our union and our members see the potential for increased revenue for Norfolk Southern with him at the helm. In contrast, Ancora would be bad for investors. It’s easy to imagine a train wreck under their proposed plans, both literally and figuratively speaking.”
Read the full story at the National Division website.
STB’s Robert Primus: Deja vu, all over again
As yet another hedge fund seeks a hostile takeover of a Class I railroad, Surface Transportation Board Member Robert Primus condemned the “scorched-earth” cuts associated with Precision Scheduled Railroading in a guest column published by Progressive Railroading.
He writes: “Nearly 10 years ago, the largest freight railroads in the United States, commonly known as Class Is, began to cut costs aggressively. They claimed that the cuts were necessary to implement a new operating philosophy called Precision Scheduled Railroading (PSR). But PSR was merely a pretext for a scorched-earth plan to drastically reduce their costs. And just when you think our freight-rail network and national supply chain are back on solid ground, we now face yet another assault from those who view the Class Is as short-term cash cows.”
Read the full story on the Progressive Railroading website.
Hybrid class hosts LM-2 filers in the classroom and via Zoom
In-person and virtual participants during the Education & Training Department's hybrid workshop for LM-2 filers on February 28.
The BLET Education & Training Department continues to leverage the technological advances incorporated into the National Division Training Center by expanding avenues to provide critical information to BLET officers. The Department hosted a hybrid training class for 21 LM-2 filers during the week of February 26, with most participating in person at the Training Center and others virtually via Zoom.
This week’s workshop was geared toward Secretary-Treasurers who file the U.S. Department of Labor’s annual LM-2 report on behalf of their General Committee of Adjustment, Local Division, or State Legislative Board. Leading the class were Sister Megan C. Mead, Director of the BLET Record and Compliance Department, David P. Estes, BLET National Secretary-Treasurer, and Walt Schmidt, Director of the BLET Online Services Department. Representatives from the Department of Labor were also on hand to offer best practices regarding the preparation of LM-2 reports.
“While in-person training is preferred, the hybrid approach allows members to participate who otherwise might not be able to attend,” said Brother Estes, who also heads the Education & Training Department.

See photo highlights of the LM-2 class in the BLET photo gallery.
During World War II, women helped to keep America's trains moving
During World War II, women were called upon to enter to the workforce to keep the American economy moving as millions of men were called to serve in the armed forces. By the end of 1945, some 250,000 women were working on railroads throughout the United States. While many worked in an office setting as telegraphers or station agents, some worked in the mechanical shops and along the right of ways.These pioneers helped blaze a path for the many successful women in today’s railroad industry.
The Koch network is killing rail safety
Koch Industries spent nearly $8 million in the past year lobbying against the Railway Safety Act and related issues. NTSB Image
A February 28 article in The Lever, a non-partisan investigative news outlet, revealed that the billionaire-backed Koch network is leading a behind the scenes effort to stonewall the Railway Safety Act.
Koch Industries, a familiar conservative foe run for decades by Charles Koch and his now-deceased brother David, spent nearly $8 million in the past year lobbying against the Railway Safety Act and related issues. Koch Industries also donated $1.4 million to Republican lawmakers who helped stall the legislation. That’s in addition to money spent by rail corporations and their trade association AAR (Association of American Railroads) to lobby against much needed safety improvements.
Read the full story on The Lever’s website.
If so, have you joined BLET’s private members-only Facebook group?
Since its unveiling in 2023, the BLET National Division’s private Facebook group for members-only has grown at a steady pace. More than 1,500 members have joined. Both active and retired members are welcome.
Have you signed up? Once you do, you are encouraged to invite your Facebook friends/fellow BLET members to also join the new page (but company officials are not eligible). Membership eligibility will be verified through UnionTrack, and all requests for membership on the new page will be processed as quickly as possible. If BLET membership cannot be determined (for example, your Facebook name differs from what is in UnionTrack), then one of our Administrators will contact you through Facebook for more information.
The page is here:
Links to all of our social media outlets can be found here:

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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