Shake-Up Coming Down the Tracks in Rail

February 9, 2006. A high-level official of the Teamster Rail Conference’s Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) announced his resignation amid speculation that he will challenge President Don Hahs for leadership of the BLET. Tom Brennan, the staff counsel for the national division announced he will return to operating a train rather than continue working under the leadership of BLET President Don Hahs. “I do not believe it is possible for me to continue to serve the members’ best interests while working on the Executive Staff supporting [Hahs’] decision,” Brennan wrote in a resignation letter dated February 6. The move follows months of speculation that Brennan will challenge Hahs for the BLET presidency. Brennan vowed to “expose those who are willing to accept carrier demands that will eliminate our craft”—a reference to carrier demands to eliminate the positions of engineer and conductor and instead run trains with a single “transportation employee.” If Hahs were to cave in to such a demand, it would threaten the job security of the 30,000 railroad engineers in the Teamsters, and would widely be seen as a sellout. Brennan fell short of announcing his candidacy but indicated he would “respond later to the many expressions of support and encouragement I have received to pursue elective office. One thing is certain, I will work relentlessly to preserve our craft.” BLET members have launched a joint campaign with members of the conductors’ union to call for a democratic merger of the two organizations. They have formed Railroad Operating Crafts United [ROCU] to push for a united union that would defend both engineers and conductors and be based on membership control. One Member, One Vote in BLET? A number of BLET divisions have endorsed an initiative to adopt direct elections of BLET officers through a system of one member, one vote. The initiative, which is gaining momentum, is close to the threshold of support where the BLET’s bylaws will require Hahs to hold a membership referendum on the issue. These officers are currently elected by delegates to the BLET Convention—just as top Teamster officers were before TDU helped win the right to vote in 1991. Click here: to read Brennans Letter of Resignation
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