February 17, 2005: In Seattle, rank and file engineers and trainmen are joining together with their Teamster brothers and sisters in the fight against the railroad carriers.
The National Carriers Conference Committee, the negotiating body for most of the nation’s railroads, issued their “wish list” for the new national agreement last November. Among the most alarming demands was a plan to combine the duties of engineer and conductor into one “transportation employee” position (see article this page).
In Seattle, workers in BLET Division 518 overwhelmingly adopted a resolution directing their officers to present legislation banning one-person crews in their state. Similar to a bill already passed in Wisconsin, this proposal gives railroaders an opportunity to inform fellow workers and the public of this potential danger. If adopted in other states across the nation, public pressure may derail implementation of one-person crews even if the carriers get their way in contract negotiations.
The reform officers of Teamsters Local 174 in Seattle, which represents rail yard truck drivers in the city, immediately pledged their support to the 200+ workers of the BLET Division 518 in this fight for their livelihoods. They have joined us in urging our state legislators to act now to protect our jobs and public safety.
We of the BLET urge all rank and file Teamsters to seek out their brothers and sisters in the rail industry so we can learn from each other. We welcome your knowledge and enthusiasm, and look forward to learning how to better organize in our workplaces and forge bonds with others to take back labor power.
BLET Division 518, BNSF