BLET celebrates 150th anniversary

Written by Jenifer Nunez, assistant editor

The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen will celebrate its 150th anniversary on May 8; the union was founded on May 8, 1863.

In lieu of the celebration, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed a proclamation declaring May 8, 2013, as “Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen Day” throughout Illinois in honor of the anniversary.

Gov. Quinn’s proclamation praises all active and retired BLET members who “have devoted their lives to the rail industry and provided a great public service to our communities and economy.”

A similar resolution adopted by the California State Assembly also thanks all BLET members, which sated, “The men and women who comprise BLET are highly trained professionals through whose professionalism, perseverance and dedication the railroad industry, the lifeblood of the American economy, runs smoothly and safely 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days of the year.”

The California resolution congratulates BLET on 150 years of stellar service to its members and conveys best wishes for continued success. The Honorable John A. Perez, Speaker of the Assembly, and the Honorable Darrell Steinberg, President pro Tempore of the California State Senate, both signed the resolution.

Additionally, the commonwealth of Massachusetts conferred a Governor’s Citation. Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray both signed the citation.

The Ohio House of Representatives issued a congratulatory letter, Ohio Rep. Robert Hagan, sponsored the letter.

The letter stated, “The oldest labor union in the nation, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen has been a tireless advocate for fair employee representation and today, it has 27 divisions in the State of Ohio. Throughout its long and distinguished history, the union has contributed in innumerable ways to ensure safe and healthy working conditions and to gain benefits and compensation which reflect the skills, commitment and efforts of the workers it serves.”

William Batchelder, speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives, signed the letter, along with Rep. Hagan.

In Michigan, James Dyer, Mayor of Marshall, Mich., signed a proclamation declaring May 5, 2013, through May 11, 2013, as “Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen Week” in the city.

Dave Bing, the Mayor of Detroit, Mich., signed a proclamation recognizing May 8, 2013, as “Locomotive Engineer and Trainmen Day” in the city. The proclamation thanks the Brotherhood’s leaders and members for their record of great service to the industry and the nation.

BLET National President Dennis Pierce thanked the cities and states for honoring the historic milestone. He also thanked all BLET members involved in the collective effort to secure passage of these resolutions and proclamations. The National Division will announce additional state and city proclamations as they become available.

Seven members of the U.S. House of Representatives also issued congratulatory letters.

Representatives included Nancy Pelosi (D-CA); Bill Shuster (R-PA); Corrine Brown (D-FL); Jeff Denham (R-FL); Nick Rahall, II (D-WV); Richard Nolan (D-MN) and Steny Hoyer (D-MD).

“The broad spectrum of bipartisan letters that we received is a testament to BLET’s even-handed approach to supporting legislators who support our issues,” Pierce said. “These leaders of key rail and transportation committees took the time to recognize our organization’s 150th anniversary, but more importantly, their letters recognize the vital role that our members play in the rail industry and the American economy.”

Categories: Class 1, Commuter/Regional, Intercity, Intermodal, OFF Track Maintenance, Rapid Transit/Light Rail, Shortline/Regional