BLE-T Division 622

Register an Account
Forgot Login?
BLET Weekly News Recap, 6-14-24
Jun 14, 2024

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


June 14, 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.

Railroaders abandoned by SMART-TD vote to join the BLET

The Arizona Eastern Railway (AZER) train and engine service employees have voted to join the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET), becoming the newest members of BLET, the nation’s oldest union. The election was certified on June 13 by the National Mediation Board (NMB), the federal agency responsible for facilitating labor relations within the nation’s railroads and airlines.
In March, the process officially began when the AZER train and engine service employees signed authorization cards (or “A cards”) indicating they would like to be represented by the BLET. On June 12, AZER employees sent a resounded message to the carrier with 17 of the 19 votes cast for the BLET.
The path to unionization hasn’t been an easy one for these Arizona railroaders. Before BLET’s organizers arrived, in February 2022, the Transportation Division of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail, and Transportation Workers was certified as the representative of the craft or class of AZER, 49 NMB 45 (2022). One year later, in February 2023, SMART-TD sent a letter to the NMB stating that “SMART-TD hereinafter disclaims any and all interest in the representation of the [Train and Engine Service Employees, employees of Arizona Eastern Railway Company], effective immediately.”
“We want to welcome the employees of AZER to the Brotherhood,” said BLET Vice President Randy Fannon, who led the organizing effort. “They deserve representation, and we will proudly represent them.” Brothers Brian Terpening and Jorge Gomez were also instrumental in this effort.
The win at AZER marks the second property the BLET has officially organized with the NMB in the past two years.. “Across the country, locomotive engineers and train service employees at short lines have seen the strides our members have made in quality-of-life and scheduling and want to join us, said BLET National President Eddie Hall. “I congratulate Brothers Fannon, Terpening, and Gomez on a job well done. We have much more work to do. With our revamped organizing department we’re just getting started.”
The Arizona Eastern Railway is a Class III railroad that operates 206 miles between Clifton and Miami, Arizona. It is owned by Genesee & Wyoming Inc. 

Study finds that derailment risk increases as trains get longer

recent academic study by researchers from Brigham Young University, Georgetown University, and Virginia Tech found that the risk of derailment increases with train length. The study, which analyzed FRA data from 2013-2022, found that a 200-car freight train is 24% more likely to derail than a 50-car train.

FRA Administrator Amit Bose discussed the safety and performance of long trains with BLET members during his presentation last week at the union’s Western Regional Meeting in Kansas City. The BLET has been advocating for action to address the dangers of excessive train length since the inception of Precision Scheduled Railroading. BLET National President Eddie Hall exposed the dangers of long trains in a 2023 interview with Washington Post.

Bose said that recent FRA studies found that air brake systems performed largely as expected when testing was performed in a controlled environment. However, the FRA identified some negative impacts on performance and recommended additional research to provide a better understanding of how long trains impact the durability of rolling stock mechanical components.

“As the length of freight trains increases, the need and demand for accurate, actionable data on long trains — some of which can stretch up to three miles — has never been greater,” Bose said. “FRA is leading the push for more transparency and data in this area.”

Photo courtesy of Cory Rusch, BLET Division 659
BLET Members show solidarity amid attempted raid
BLET members gather as a show of support to members working at the Indiana Harbor Belt.
BLET Division 682 members working at the Indiana Harbor Belt (IHB) have been dealing with a raid from SMART-TD, which has been acting increasingly desperate due to continued membership losses. On June 12, at Hammond, IN, nearly 50 BLET members and officers gathered from all over the nearby region as a show of support and solidarity, encouraging BLET members to stay union strong.
IHB General Chairman Dan Wells thanked the membership, as well as the GCA, ND, and SLB officers in attendance, for “showcasing what true leadership and solidarity looks like.”
Evans reelected General Chairman of CN-IC GCA
Newly reelected GC Billy Evans (front row, center) with the members of the CN-IC GCA.
William (Billy) Evans was reelected to his third term of office as General Chairman of the BLET’s CN-IC General Committee of Adjustment at the GCA’s quadrennial meeting in Biloxi, Mississippi, on June 11. 
The CN-IC GCA represents nearly 1,300 active and retired members from 19 different BLET Local Divisions. The GCA represents multiple railroads, including CN properties (Illinois Central, Chicago Central & Pacific, Cedar River Railway), Kansas City Southern properties (MidSouth Rail Corp., SouthRail Corp, Gateway & Western), Illinois & Midland Railroad and the IC Electric Division of Metra in Chicago.
Secretary-Treasurer Chuck Grigsby, Division 602 (Champaign, Ill.) and 1st Vice General Chairman Jeremy Wilborn, Division 203 (Jackson, Miss.) were both reelected. Also elected were: 2nd Vice General Chairman Jonathan Walters, Division 10 (Chicago, Ill.); 3rd Vice General Chairman Chuck Grigsby; 4th Vice General Chairman Trey Turner, Division 23 (Southhaven, Miss.).

Elected to serve as alternate officers were: Alternate Secretary-Treasurer Christopher Rowcliff, Division 24 (Centralia, Ill.); 1st Alternate Vice General Chairman Lanie Keith, Division 593 (Meridian, Miss.); 2nd Alternate Vice General Chairman Shawn Slade, Division 114 (Waterloo, Iowa); 3rd Alternate Vice General Chairman Keith Sharrah, Division 326 (Bossier, Lou.) and 4th Alternate Vice General Chairman Christopher Rowcliff. Jay Kiefer,  Division 109 (East St. Louis, Ill.), Jonathan Walters, Div. 10 (Chicago, Ill.); and Allen Templet Jr., Div. 914 (Baton Rouge, Lou.) were appointed to serve as Trustees.
BLET Division 103 marks 155th anniversary
Division 103 members pose with their original charter which they presented to the Wyoming State Archives. 
BLET Division 103 is celebrating its 155th anniversary. The Division is the oldest, still active union in the state of Wyoming. It was chartered on May 14, 1869, four days after the golden spike was driven for America’s first transcontinental railroad linking the nation’s coasts.
The Division was recently profiled in the Cowboy State Daily after presenting its original charter to the Wyoming State Archives for preservation and display. The framed document had been passed from Local Chairman to Local Chairman throughout the union’s history.
Division 103 represents engineers and conductors who travel between Cheyenne and Rawlins, and Cheyenne and Green River. The Division was established to help keep railroad workers safe at a time when Wyoming was still a territory and the American frontier was the “Wild West.” Today, Wyoming is a state and the West is tamer but worker safety remains a big motivator for BLET members to keep their union strong. 
“It’s important to have an organization that will stand in solidarity and make sure all the rules are being followed. Tantamount to that is safety,” said Division 103 member and spokesman Brian Profaizer. “We want to make sure that everything is being done safely because we do have a pretty dangerous job and that’s our main goal — that we all look out for each other and that we make sure we all go home to our families after every shift.”
Read more about Division 103’s proud history here.
Deluzio appointed to House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
U.S. Rep. Chris Deluzio, pictured here at a recent roundtable discussion on rail safety, had many constituents in his Pennsylvania district affected by the derailment in East Palestine.
U.S. Rep. Chris Deluzio (D-PA) has been appointed to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure for the remainder of the current session of Congress. His appointment fills a vacancy on the committee following the death of New Jersey Rep. Donald Payne in April. 
The issue of transportation and infrastructure became front and center for Deluzio’s western Pennsylvania congressional district in February 2023 when a Norfolk Southern train carrying hazardous chemicals derailed just over his district’s border in East Palestine, Ohio. Beaver County residents in Deluzio’s district were affected by the derailment and the aftermath, and Deluzio joined other elected officials in the region aiming to hold Norfolk Southern accountable. 
Following the derailment, Deluzio and U.S. Rep. Nick LaLota (R-NY) introduced the House version of the Railway Safety Act in March 2023. The Senate version was introduced by Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Sen. J.D. Vance (R-OH). The legislation is intended to increase safety on American railroads, tighten regulations, and increase penalties for railroads. 
More information can be found here.

House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee image
BLET will now have a seat at the table on governor’s Freight Rail Council
Governor Tim Walz (front row, blue tie) was the guest of honor at the Minnesota SLB quadrennial meeting in 2023. He recently named Chairman Joel Mueller (front row, center) to the governor's Freight Rail Council.
Minnesota lawmakers adopted two pieces of legislation during this year’s session that are favorable to railroad workers, thanks in part to the efforts of the BLET’s Minnesota State Legislative Board and its Chairman, Joel Mueller.
The first is an Executive Order from the Walz administration that adds two seats for rail labor to the Minnesota Governor’s Council on Freight Rail. The Council is tasked with advising the Governor on all issues related to freight rail, including safety. Governor Tim Walz then appointed Brother Mueller to a seat on the Council. “The BLET will now have a voice for safety when the Minnesota Governor seeks advice from the Minnesota Freight Rail Council,” Brother Mueller said.
The second legislative victory improves existing state law when it comes to regulating contract railroad crew haulers. “BLET members have been frustrated as the rail carriers have forced our members, often under the threat of discipline, to ride in unsafe vehicles while in deadhead transportation,” Brother Mueller said. State Statute 221.0255 (Motor Carriers of Railroad Employees) was amended to protect BLET members by doubling certain liability requirements that railroads are required to carry. The stricter statute also allows the Minnesota Department of Transportation, which is tasked with enforcement, to levy penalties of up to $5,000 against railroads for violations.

Brother Mueller's notice of appointment from Governor Walz can be viewed 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

Top of Page image
Powered By UnionActive - Copyright © 2024. All Rights Reserved.