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BLET Weekly News Recap, 4-19-24
Apr 19, 2024

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


April 19, 2024

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Hotel reservations must be made by May 3 for BLET’s Kansas City regional meeting

BLET members are encouraged to make their reservations as soon as possible for the Western Regional Meeting, which will be held in Kansas City, Missouri, the week of June 3, 2024. Hotel room reservations must be made by May 3, 2024.

The meeting will be held at the Marriott Kansas City Downtown (200 West 12th St., Kansas City, MO, 65105, telephone: (816) 421-6800). Meeting registration and hotel reservations can be made through BLET’s regional meeting website, Room rates are $199 per night (plus tax).

The BLET is lining up an impressive list of guest speakers for the opening ceremony on June 4, and members will have the chance to catch up on Brotherhood business in the closed meeting later that afternoon. Valuable training workshops, including a session on the upcoming triennial elections, will be held on June 6. When training classes and meetings are not in session, members can spend their free time exploring Kansas City’s Power and Light District. The annual golf outing will take place on June 5 at the Tiffany Greens Golf Club, just a short drive from the hotel.

Click here for more information about the Kansas City regional meeting. In addition, members are invited to Washington, D.C., for the Eastern Regional Meeting the week of July 29, 2024.

Kansas City’s Power and Light District is a dynamic entertainment district within walking distance of the Marriott Kansas City Downtown. Photos courtesy: Visit KC
BLET announces creation of the New England Legislative Board
New England Legislative Board Chairman Dan Cadogan
The BLET is proud to announce the formation of the New England Legislative Board (NELB). It was established earlier this year to acknowledge the regionalization and expansion of the former Massachusetts State Legislative Board.
“The Massachusetts State Legislative Board had a history of blurred geographical lines in New England since its inception,” said NELB Chairman Dan Cadogan. “For a multitude of reasons — such as interstate freight, Amtrak’s Downeaster, commuter rail expansion in Rhode Island and New Hampshire, CT Rail, rail safety legislation, and of course politics — our legislative work has almost always impacted our neighboring states.”
Under the “Joint State Legislative Board” statute in the BLET Bylaws (Section 9, Paragraph B), BLET Division 72 (Waterville, Maine) recently voted to affiliate with the Massachusetts State Legislative Board. In the interest of inclusion, the Board changed its name to New England Legislative Board. Brother Cadogan said Divisions in other nearby states are also considering a merger. 
The NELB has hit the ground running, submitting five new pieces of rail safety legislation in addition to the 12 already filed in Massachusetts prior to the merger. The subjects addressed in these 17 pieces of legislation include sick leave, two-person crews, hot box detectors, rail worker anonymity in police reports after a trespasser strike, employee assaults, and van transportation guidelines. Cadogan said a collection of these bills will be filed in additional states around New England as the new sessions begin.
Brother Cadogan thanked Jennifer Berigan and Patrick Crowley of the Connecticut and Rhode Island AFL-CIOs, respectively, who were instrumental in filings in those states. He also thanked Division 72 Local Chairman Jarod Briggs and recognized the Massachusetts State Legislative Board Chairmen who came before him: John Tolman (founder), George NewmanDan LauzonTom Hebert, and Kevin Moore.
Thanks to BLET effort and testimony, rail safety bill advances in state legislature
Colorado State Legislative Board Chairman Paul Pearson 
Colorado BLET members are working hard to secure passage of a major rail safety bill in the state’s legislature. BLET Vice President & National Legislative Representative Vince Verna, BLET Colorado State Legislative Board Chairman Paul Pearson, and BLET Auxiliary National 2nd Vice President & Legislative Representative Natalie Miller all testified in favor of House Bill 1030 on April 17 during a hearing hosted by the Senate Transportation and Energy Committee.
Among other safety improvements, the proposed Colorado legislation limits train length to 8,500 feet, requires railroads to better train workers and community firefighters to handle hazardous spills, and gives railroad union representatives a way to investigate safety issues. It also requires railroad companies to install wayside detectors on every 10 to 15 miles of track and requires railroad companies to maintain insurance policies to cover the cost of spills and accidents. The legislation creates a fine structure for railroads that violate the new rules. 
The safety bill is not the only rail-related bill currently under debate in Colorado. Legislators are also considering a measure to expand passenger rail. In an interview with the Colorado Sun, however, BLET State Chairman Pearson said that legislators must address rail safety before considering passenger rail expansion: “Before we consider Uinta Basin or passenger rail traffic in Colorado, it’s important the issues in House Bill 1030 be addressed. It’s an important first step on our path to passenger rail along the Front Range and west into the mountains.”
BLET has lobbied for the legislation as part of a multi-faceted rail safety coalition, which includes labor and environmental groups.
“The Colorado AFL-CIO and the Colorado Blue Green Alliance were instrumental and have led the way in our fight to see 1030 end up on the desk of Governor Polis,” Pearson said. “I can't stress enough the importance of a diverse and united coalition. I am a strong believer that for us to make some of the changes necessary to benefit our membership and our communities, broad strong coalition-building is a must.”
In addition to the AFL-CIO and the Colorado Blue Green Alliance, Pearson said additional coalition members supporting HB 1030 include: AFSCME, AFT Colorado, Colorado Education Association, Colorado Professional Firefighters, Colorado Sierra Club, Colorado Trout Unlimited, Conservation Colorado, Green Latinos, Teamsters Local 455, USW District 12, Natural Resources Defense Council, Adams County Board of County Commissioners, City of Commerce City, City of Fort Collins, Colorado Municipal League, League of Women Voters, and the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments.
Nevada BLET member encourages Colorado lawmakers to support rail safety bill
Drawing on his experience in lobbying for a rail safety bill in Nevada, BLET Division 766 (Las Vegas) member Jason Doering is using the media to urge legislators in Colorado to support a rail safety bill. Brother Doering’s opinion column was published in the Colorado Sun on April 17.
His efforts were on behalf of Chairman Matt Parker and members of the Nevada State Legislative Board in a public show of solidarity with Chairman Paul Pearson and members of the Colorado State Legislative Board. The BLET in Colorado is currently lobbying hard for passage of House Bill 1030, a bill that would mandate installation of wayside defect detectors, among other safety improvements.
Brother Doering wrote: “As House Bill 1030 makes its journey through the Colorado Capitol, it carries with it the echoes of Nevada’s recent struggle with Assembly Bill 456 — a fight that, despite fervent public and legislative support, was stymied by the veto pen, a stark testament to the rail industry’s formidable influence… Colorado’s fight for House Bill 1030 thus emerges as a tale of resistance against corporate overreach… House Bill 1030, which has moved through that chamber and is now before a Senate committee, represents more than mere legislation; it embodies a stand against complacency, a pledge to prioritize the safety of Colorado’s communities, and the preservation of its environmental legacy.”
To read Brother Doering’s full commentary, please visit the Colorado Sun website.
Teamsters say regulators should resist industry push for single pilot cockpits
Two-person crews are necessary for safety in both the railroad and airline industries. 
As rail labor unions celebrated the Federal Railroad Administration’s new regulation requiring two-person crews on freight trains, airline pilot unions raised the question: Can the same policy continue for aircrafts? While current U.S. regulations require two pilots on the flight deck, the airline industry is lobbying to change that. In Europe, regulators are caving to pressure from airlines and appear to be willing to allow reduced crew operations there.
In a Forbes article exploring this dangerous trend, the Teamsters Rail Conference were adamant that regulations requiring two pilots on airplanes should continue in the airline industry.
Teamsters Rail Conference President and BLET First Vice President Mark Wallace said: “Requiring two crew members to operate a multi-ton freight train that is several miles long should be common sense, but now, there is thankfully a rule that mandates it.”
On behalf of the Teamsters Airline Division, spokesman Matt McQuaid said: “In addition to the new two-person crew requirement for railroads, the Teamsters also support the FAA’s two-pilot minimum requirement in cockpits. In both cases, it is critical to the safety of workers and the public.”
More information in this article from Forbes.

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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