Town Hall Meeting held September 7, 2017 in Roselle Illinois

In a combined effort with BNSF-Santa Fe, CNIC/MidSouth/SouthrailGWWR/Metra-Electric/CRR/I&M, CN-WC, and CPR US/Metra North/ISRR/DM&E General Committees we hosted a Town Hall Meeting on September 7, 2017 in Roselle, Illinois.

President Pierce, Vice Presidents Pruitt, Twombley , Ruef and Priester as well as Director of Education and Training Jason Wright from the National Office were all in attendance.  President Pierce spoke on several topics regarding including National Negotiations.  There were 86 members in attendance.

On September 6, President Pierce and Vice Presidents attended Division 683 meeting.  On the evening of September 7, they then attended Division 404 meeting.

We want to thank President Pierce and our National Brothers for taking the time to attend all these meetings and answering questions of our membership.

We also want to thank BRCF and Cornerstone Assurance for sponsoring the luncheon following the Town Hall meeting.


Hansen Elected New Iowa State Legislative Board Chairman

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio, June 17 — Kenny A. Hansen was elected Chairman of the Iowa State Legislative Board at the Board’s quadrennial meeting in Altoona, Iowa, June 13-14, 2016.

A Union Pacific locomotive engineer and member of BLET Division 125 (Clinton, Iowa), Brother Hansen has held continuous membership in the BLET since January 1, 1996. He has served as Legislative Representative of Division 125 since 2009. Hanson was elected 3rd Vice Chairman of the Iowa State Legislative Board in 2012, moving up to 2nd Vice Chairman following the retirement of former Chairman Jeff Kurtz in 2014.

Additional officers of the Iowa State Legislative Board were reelected by acclamation: 1st Vice Chairman Michael G. Walker, Division 642 (Creston, Iowa); 2nd Vice Chairman Daniel L. Christensen, Division 114 (Waterloo, Iowa); 3rd Vice Chairman Kade T. Harl, Division 391 (Fort Madison, Iowa); Secretary-Treasurer Janet L. Schultz, Division 6 (Boone, Iowa); and Alternate Secretary-Treasurer Brian P. Gruntmeir, Division 391 (Fort Madison, Iowa).

Trustees elected during the quadrennial meeting were: Andy M. Barrett, Division 114 (Waterloo, Iowa); Joe M. Japel, Division 687 (Sioux City, Iowa); and Paul T. Shook, Division 200 (Davenport, Iowa).

“Congratulations and thank you to Brother Hansen and all officers of the Iowa State Legislative Board,” BLET National President Dennis R. Pierce said. “They will have their work cut out for them with the national election just a few months away, but I have every confidence that they are up to the task of educating legislators and candidates about our issues. I also wish to thank Brother Orlando Penrod for his service as Chairman and for his continued dedication to our Brotherhood.”

The delegates heard from Iowa’s former Lieutenant Governor Patti Judge, who addressed them via conference call. She is currently campaigning to represent the State of Iowa in the U.S. Senate.

Outside of election of officers, the delegates spend the majority of their time conducting a significant re-write of their Bylaws.

Brother Hansen hired out as a welder in 1993 for the Chicago & NorthWestern Railroad at Clinton, Iowa. He transferred to engine service three months later and earned promotion to locomotive engineer in March of 1994. Brother Hansen and his wife Jody have been married the entire time he has worked for the railroad and they have three adult children.

The Iowa State Legislative Board is comprised of 12 BLET Divisions representing more than 1,350 active and retired members.

Past General Chairman Bruce MacArthur Passes

Bruce-Macarthur-1466152614Bruce MacArthur passed away on Wednesday, June 15, 2016.!/Obituary

Obituary for Bruce D MacArthur

Bruce D. MacArthur, age 69, of Council Bluffs passed away June 15, 2016 at CHI Mercy Hospital.

He was born in Mason City, Iowa on November 27, 1946 to the late Jack and Bernida (Steinbeck) MacArthur. Bruce lived and worked in Clinton, Iowa for many years. He retired from the Union Pacific after 40 plus years of service. Since 1992 he had served as the General Chairman for the former CNW Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen and remained in that position until he retired in 2012.

Bruce is survived by his wife, Phyllis (Lemonds) MacArthur, and best buddy Mac(Boo); daughters, Andrea Erickson (Mark), Whitney MacArthur (Troy Hopkins); step-son, Stephen Lemonds; step-daughter, Jennifer Powell (Ryan); sister, Sherry Black (Bill); 4 grandchildren, Dakota, Vivian, Ava and Lulu; 2 step-grandchildren, Nina and Henry; a host of other family and friends.

Memorial service is 11:00a.m. on Tuesday at the Hoy-Kilnoski Funeral Home. The family will receive friends during the hour prior to the service. Inurnment is later that afternoon in the Westlawn-Hillcrest Cemetery. Memorials are suggested to the American Heart Association.

State of the Union 2015

By Dennis R. Pierce
BLET National President

CLEVELAND, December 28 — I am proud of our Brotherhood’s many accomplishments throughout the year 2015 and we have much to be thankful for. While many significant challenges may lie ahead, I have every confidence that our Brotherhood will continue to grow and become stronger in the year 2016 — our 153rd year as an organization.

Like the brave men who founded our Brotherhood in 1863, our goal remains the same: to improve the wages and working conditions of our members. Because of the important part they play in maintaining our nation’s economy, locomotive engineers and trainmen have a justifiable pride in their jobs. BLET members are instrumental in keeping the lifeblood of our economy flowing through the arteries of steel that lace the North American continent. BLET members have a right to stand tall and look with pride at their accomplishments. Ceaselessly day or night, winter or summer, BLET members get the job done.

With that pride comes the satisfaction that our pay and benefits are among the best in the nation. The BLET has worked tirelessly in 2015 to defend these well-earned benefits in the face of hostile adversaries at the negotiating table. This year alone, BLET members have ratified on property contract agreements with Norfolk Southern, Long Island Rail Road, Indiana Southern, CP Rail-U.S. (Soo Line), and the Dakota, Minnesota and Eastern. These contracts maintain and improve the pay, benefits and quality of life our members deserve.

On the national level, we continued to negotiate jointly for a national contract as a member of the Coordinated Bargaining Group (CPG). In addition to the BLET, the CPG consists of the SMART Transportation Division, the American Train Dispatchers Association, the National Conference of Firemen and Oilers/SEIU, the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen, and the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers and Helpers. Jointly, the participating unions represent more than 85,000 railroad workers and comprise over 58 percent of the workforce who will be impacted by national negotiations. Although a final agreement is not yet in sight, significant progress has been made throughout 2015 identifying the issues of greatest importance to both sides. Serious discussions are ongoing and both parties believe that a voluntary agreement is the desired outcome. Additional meetings are set for the first quarter of 2016, and updates will be made available when appropriate.

Working together with our fellow Brothers and Sisters in other unions gives us the best chance to come out ahead in negotiations. It makes our position stronger. The same can be said of issues like two-person crews. For the second year in a row, the BLET worked with our counterparts in the SMART Transportation Division to advance a two-person crew bill on the national level. Similar legislation was also advanced in at least 14 states during 2015, including Washington, Nebraska, Minnesota, Wyoming, Iowa, Utah and North Dakota. On September 8, rail labor scored a major victory for rail safety when California Governor Edmund G. (Jerry) Brown signed a two-person crew bill into law. This represents a major victory for all of organized labor, especially our hard working engine and train crews. While the advancement of technology such as Positive Train Control can make the workplace safer, technology cannot replace the trained eyes and ears of experienced professionals inside the cab of the locomotive.

Speaking of technology, our own Education and Training Department achieved a significant milestone this year. On August 31, our Brothers and Sisters in Wisconsin were able to network with our Brothers and Sisters in Cleveland via the Internet using video and audio equipment. Our Wisconsin members were able to participate in real time with the classroom presentation being offered to our members in class at the Training Center in Cleveland. This was a small, but an important step, helping move us closer to realizing the vision established by our 2010 delegates.

In December, our Education and Training Department hosted the final workshop at our Training Center in Cleveland. As you will recall, the BLET purchased a new headquarters building in the Cleveland suburb of Independence, Ohio, earlier this year. Construction has been moving along quickly as we prepare to relocate to our building in the spring of 2016. Our new headquarters location will provide ample room for our National Division officers and staff in a more modern work environment, and we will also use the opportunity to continue and expand our state-of-the-art Education and Training Center.

The BLET has been headquartered in Cleveland since the 1870s, and the BLET constructed its original headquarters building, the Engineers Building, 1910. The Brotherhood’s second office building, the Standard Building, was dedicated in 1924. The Brotherhood sold the Engineers Building to developers in 1989, and the building was demolished. We moved into the Standard Building at the time, and have been here ever since.

While the 22-story Standard Building is a significant part of the Brotherhood’s heritage, it had reached a point where considerable assets are necessary to repurpose the building. The Advisory Board made the decision to sell the building in order to better focus our efforts on representation of members as opposed to working as commercial property managers.

But before we turn out the lights on the old headquarters and make the move to our more modern facility, it must be said that what matters most is not the building, but the people. The building may change, but the people haven’t and our mission hasn’t — and won’t. We intend to keep offering the best representation and the best contracts to the best railroaders that America has to offer.

As we move into 2016, let us reflect on our achievements in 2015 and let us work together in solidarity and Brotherhood throughout the New Year. Happy Holidays to you and your family!

Monday, December 28, 2015

Now Available: Applications for 2016 Hoffa Scholarships

CLEVELAND, December 18 — The James R. Hoffa Memorial Scholarship Fund is now accepting applications for scholarship awards. The deadline for receipt of completed materials is March 31, 2016.

Applicants must be a son, daughter, or financially dependent grandchild of a BLET member in good standing in order to be eligible to apply. Please see the link below for full eligibility requirements and to download the application along with other supporting materials.

Scholarship applicants compete in one of the five geographic regions. One category of awards totals $10,000 each. These four-year scholarships are disbursed at the rate of $2,500 per year and are renewable annually. Other awards are one-time $1,000 grants. These scholarships are disbursed to the college or university at the beginning of the recipient’s freshman year.

Eligibility requirements and application procedures are the same for all awards. Recipients are selected by an impartial committee of university admissions and financial aid directors based on academic achievement, SAT/ACT scores, character, potential and financial need. The James R. Hoffa Memorial Scholarship Fund considers all applicants without regard to race, religion, gender, disability, or any other legally protected status.

Click here for application forms (PDF).

GA-46000 Lifetime Maximum Adjusted for 2016

CLEVELAND, November 20 — The lifetime maximum benefit for the Railroad Employees National Early Retirement Major Medical Benefit (also known as ERMA or GA-46000) Plan will increase from $145,800 to $151,600 on January 1, 2016.

At the end of 2001, Labor and Management agreed on various procedures to administer the annual changes in the amount of the lifetime maximum benefit under the ERMA plan. In conjunction with the formula established in 2001, a new lifetime maximum was calculated for 2016 by utilizing the October 2015 consumer price index (CPI) data for Hospital and Related Services and Physician Services.

Additionally, for individuals who have reached the lifetime maximum, the incremental maximum available is applied to eligible expenses submitted for dates of service on or after the effective date of the new maximum. For 2016, this amount will be $5,800.

This change will apply to all railroads and crafts participating in ERMA.