Rail Teamsters Launch 1 Member 1 Vote Campaign in the BMWED

Last Thursday, rank-and-file rail Teamsters launched a campaign for direct elections in the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Workers (BMWED-IBT). 

About 30,000 BMWED Teamsters build and maintain the tracks, bridges, buildings and other structures on US railroads. The BMWED is one of two major rail unions affiliated with the Teamsters. The other is the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET-IBT), whose members won One Member One Vote in their union in 2006.

The campaign is backed by BMWED Rank-and-File United, a grassroots network of BMWED members, and TDU. 

Currently all national BMWED officers as well as officers in most systems are elected by the delegates who attend union conventions, not by the members at large. 

That means BMWED members have no say in who is bargaining their contracts and handling their claims. The 1 Member 1 Vote for a Strong BMWED campaign aims to change that. 

“We need officers who are accountable to membership,” said Matt Mortensen, who works for BNSF Railway and serves on the TDU Steering Committee. “We’re fighting for direct elections so we can elect officers who fight for the members and take on the railroad companies.”  

Democracy Is Power

Union democracy has been key to labor’s “movement moment.” 

Before winning historic contracts with UPS and the Big 3 automakers, Teamsters and UAW members organized to win new leadership and a new direction in our unions. 

“We just won direct elections and it allowed us to elect new leadership committed to building a fighting union,” says UAW Local 551 member Scott Holdieson. “We took the fight directly to the Big 3 and won the best auto contracts in decades.”

The majority of big contract victories in 2023 were led by unions where members have the right to vote their national leaders in one-member, one-vote elections. 

One Member One Vote will empower BMWED members to build a strong union, stand up to carriers, and win good contracts. 

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