BLE-T Division 622

Register an Account
Forgot Login?
BLET Weekly News Recap, 3-8-24
Mar 08, 2024

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


March 8, 2024

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.
Tell your Senators to reinstate full railroad unemployment and sickness benefits
A BLET-backed bill currently making its way through the United States Senate would restore full unemployment and sickness benefits to all railroad workers. For more than 10 years now, individual railroad workers have unfairly had these benefits reduced by about $200 per month. 
The bipartisan Railroad Employee Equity and Fairness Act (S. 1274) was passed unanimously by the Senate Budget Committee on March 6. Known as the REEF Act, the bill would restore full Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act (RUIA) benefits to railroad workers by removing the harmful sequester that was implemented in 2013. The REEF Act was introduced by Senator Deb Fischer (R-NE), Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH).
The BLET and its members performed a significant amount of lobbying heading into the March 6 hearing. More than 200 BLET members traveled from across the country to Washington, D.C. to visit with members of Congress to lobby for swift passage of the REEF Act. Countless more have called, emailed, and visited district offices. 
Now that it has Senate Budget Committee approval, the bill will be considered by all members of the Senate. BLET members are urged to use the Take Action legislative outreach tool on the National Division website to contact their U.S. Senators to tell them to support the REEF Act (S. 1274). BLET members can share their own personal story in support of the REEF Act or submit the pre-written statement to their Senators.
BLET locomotive engineers make their case for fair treatment at public hearing on fare hikes
BLET members at a recent NJ Transit public hearing, from left: Mike Liffner, Division 53; Steve McCusker, Division 373; Pete McGinnis, Division 373 Vice Local Chairman; and Don Melhorn, Division 272 Secretary-Treasurer.
NJ Transit held the first of 10 scheduled in-person public meetings in Atlantic City on March 4, and BLET members showed up in force to make the riding public fully aware that there shouldn’t be any fare increases without fair treatment for locomotive engineers. A BLET representative spoke at the hearing and a large throng of BLET members handed out informational flyers to those attending the meeting.
NJ Transit is holding the public hearings from March 4 through March 8 to allow for public comments before a plan for a 15 percent fare increase goes up for a vote by the NJ Transit Board of Directors.
Based on NJ Transit’s reaction, management was not happy to have BLET in the building. In fact, they called the police in an attempt to block BLET members from attending the hearing and from passing out flyers.
The BLET membership persisted and spoke at the hearing anyway. NJ Transit showed a Power Point slide show as part of its presentation to justify the 15 percent fare increase. A BLET spokesman poked holes in the NJ Transit presentation, which failed to mention NJ Transit’s misplaced priorities such as spending billions for luxury corporate offices instead of settling its contract with BLET and providing wage increases to locomotive engineers. 
Following the hearing, BLET General Chairman Tom Haas explained BLET’s position in a quote that appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer: “While NJ Transit management is spending half a billion dollars on a new headquarters building, NJT locomotive engineers have not seen a raise since 2019. We have been working through the pandemic and near-record inflation without a single increase in our wages.”
BLET members ratify new contract with Berkshire & Eastern
On March 7, BLET members ratified a new contract with the Berkshire & Eastern Railroad (B&E). The agreement governs rates of pay, benefits and work rules for 32 members. It was ratified by a vote of 26 in favor, one against.

Some of the contractual improvements include: 
  • 13% hourly rate of pay increase;
  • Accelerated progression of Entry Level rates of pay, so engineers receive the 100% rate of pay much sooner;
  • Availability of a 401(k) savings plan, with 100% company match up to 4 percent of an engineer’s yearly compensation; and
  • Pay rates at one and a half times the hourly rate on holidays, in addition to a holiday allowance.
Members governed by this agreement belong to either BLET Division 112 or Division 191. They are represented by General Chairman Kevin J. Moore of the STR-DH-SLR-NECR-CSO-NYW-B&E General Committee of Adjustment. During negotiations, the BLET was represented by Brother Moore, National Vice President L. Randy Fannon Jr., and Division 112 Local Chairman Nicholas K. Paige.
The B&E is a short line railroad in New England and New York, using tracks owned by Pan Am Southern and running between Mechanicville, N.Y., and Ayer, Mass. Pan Am Southern is jointly owned by CSX Transportation and Norfolk Southern Railway.
2024 BLET regional meetings
The BLET National Division is pleased to announce the dates and locations of this year’s regional meetings. The Western Regional Meeting will be held in Kansas City, Mo., from June 3-7 at the Marriott Kansas City Downtown (200 West 12th St., Kansas City, MO, 65105). The Eastern Regional Meeting will be held in Washington, D.C. from July 29-August 2 at the Capital Hilton (1001 16th Street NW, Washington, D.C. 20036).

More specific details will be announced soon. Registration information will be available online at the BLET National Division’s regional meeting website. All members are encouraged to attend one or both of this year’s regional meetings.
East Coast service boost is welcome news, but BLET says other route improvements are necessary
BLET General Chairman Patrick W. Darcy Jr.: “Now we need the government to realize that an investment throughout the entire Amtrak system is also of vital importance." Photo courtesy: Cory Rusch, BLET Division 659
In a report published by Reuters on March 4, Amtrak said it will boost passenger services on the East Coast as it aims to double ridership nationwide by 2040. BLET General Chairman Patrick W. Darcy Jr. welcomed the news but said improvements to the rest of Amtrak’s system — not just the Northeast Corridor — are equally important.
According to Reuters, the railroad is increasing Northeast Regional service between Boston and Washington by as much as 20% on weekdays and will add 1 million additional seats over the next year. Congress approved $66 billion in funding for rail projects as part of a massive infrastructure bill in 2021, with $22 billion dedicated to Amtrak and $36 billion made available for grants.
Brother Darcy said: “The long overdue improvements in the Northeast Corridor, which stemmed from the $66 billion infrastructure bill, are vitally critical; not only for our members, but also for our passengers who ride this route daily. Now we need the government to realize that an investment throughout the entire Amtrak system is also of vital importance. Adding more daily trains and fixing aging infrastructure are long overdue and necessary to bring passenger service within this country into the 21st century.”
Brother Darcy became Amtrak’s General Chairman on January 1 following the retirement of long-serving General Chairman Mark B. Kenny.
Read the Reuters report here.
Mary Elizabeth Walton’s inventions reduced air and noise pollution in early railroads
Mary Elizabeth Walton was a 19th century American inventor who was awarded with two patents that benefited the early railroad industry in the United States. In 1881, she created a method for reducing the environmental hazards of the smoke emitted from locomotives and industrial/residential chimneys. The system deflected the emissions into water tanks that were retained and later flushed, helping to reduce air pollution and cancer-causing coal smoke.
Walton also invented a system for reducing track noise from elevated railway systems that were rapidly expanding where she lived in New York City. Walton decided to pursue a solution after hearing that Thomas Edison had tried and failed. After experimentation and research, she was able to narrow down that much of the sound was a result of amplification from wooden support boxes. She invented a system that deadened the noise by cradling the tracks in a wooden box lined with cotton and filled with sand. The rights to her invention, patented in 1881, were sold to the Metropolitan Railroad for $10,000 and the system was soon adopted by other elevated railway companies.
BLET Auxiliary raffle raises money for scholarships, other programs
Purchase raffle tickets for $5 apiece from the BLET Auxiliary for a chance to win a Blackstone Portable Pizza Oven. Proceeds from ticket sales go to the Auxiliary scholarship fund.
The National BLET Auxiliary is offering a chance to win a Blackstone Portable Pizza Oven. Raffle tickets cost $5.00 each and the proceeds go to help support the annual BLET Auxiliary scholarship fund, the Care and Assistance Program, and many other programs that benefit Auxiliary members and their families. 
Please visit the BLET Auxiliary website for more information and to purchase tickets.
The raffle began on March 1and will conclude on Wednesday, May 1, 2024. The winner will be drawn live on Facebook at 5:00 PM Pacific time. Anyone with questions should contact BLET Auxiliary National Secretary Jodi Wallace via email,

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 © 2024. All Rights Reserved.