Kansas City Star: Transportation unions hail new rule
May 11, 2010: A 76-year-old transportation law was swept away Monday under a rule change announced by a federal agency.
The National Mediation Board, which oversees labor-management relations in the transportation industry, said future elections will require a simple majority of employees voting in favor of union representation. The upshot is that workers in the airline and railroad industries will have an easier path to organizing.
The previous rule, under the Railway Labor Act, counted any worker who did not participate as a “no” vote.
Read the full article at the Kansas City Star.
Pac Fed Teamsters Lose Right to Vote
April 2, 2010: In 2006, members in the Pacific Federation of the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes Division (BMWED) in the Teamsters held their first-ever one-member, one-vote election for officers.
Now members are losing the Right to Vote.
In March, Pac Fed officials announced that they are merging with the Unified System Division.
A new election for officers was scheduled for later this year in the Pac Fed. That election is cancelled and members will not get to vote on their new officers.
Instead, delegates will choose the new officers of the division at the Unified’s convention in October.
Members of the Unified can win the Right to Vote if two-thirds of their delegates and at least half of their officers vote to approve the one-member, one-vote elections.
Ex-railroad union president admits bribery
March 5, 2010: The former president of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen has pleaded guilty to bribery charges for accepting $20,000 in bribes from a St. Louis lawyer.
Edward Rodzwicz, 63, of Avon, Ohio, pleaded guilty to one felony count of bribery in connection with a federally funded program and one felony count of interstate travel to carry on unlawful activity. He appeared before U.S. District Judge Charles Shaw in St. Louis.
Click here to read more at the St Louis Business Journal.
BLET Officials Halfway Over First Hump
February 15, 2010: Officials from the Brotherhood of Locomotive Trainmen and Engineers in the IBT (BLET) are getting closer to their goal: to take away members’ Right to Vote for top BLET officers.
To clear the first hurdle, the officials are trying to get divisions representing 25 percent of BLET membership to approve their initiative.
Unofficial reports say that they’re about halfway there.Members Slowing Them Down
Officials announced their initiative back in December, and many rail experts expected them to clear that first hurdle by now.
What slowed them down? The members, voting the proposal down overwhelmingly in divisions from New York to El Paso, Delaware to Illinois.
But officials have still have until June 1 to hit their target. If they succeed, then the initiative will go to the entire membership for a vote.What Happens Next?
If officials hit the 25 percent mark, the entire membership of the BLET will get a chance to vote on their proposal.
Members won the Right to Vote in 2006. The first-ever one-member, one-vote election for BLET officers is scheduled for this Fall.
The officials want to pass their initiative before that vote ever happens. You can bet the other side is out organizing to get the extra divisions they need.
Members can stop them. Here’s what you can do to protect the Right to Vote:
- Download the NEW flyer and distribute it to members.
- Are you on Facebook? Become a fan of the Right to Vote page on Facebook—and invite other BLETers to become fans by clicking on the “Share” link in the left-hand column.
- Ask members to sign the petition to save our Right to Vote. BE SURE to ask members to write down their email address—that’s our number one way to communicate with members.
What are you doing to protect the Right to Vote? Click here to send a message to the TDU Rail Chapter.
BLETers Team Up to Save the Right to Vote
January 29, 2010: Some rail officials are trying to take away the Right to Vote for BLET officers before members ever get a chance to use it.
Now members are coming together to save the Right to Vote.
The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET), now part of the Teamsters, is one of the oldest unions in the U.S. But they’ve never had a rank-and-file election for their top officers—until now.
The first ever one-member, one-vote election for BLET top officers is scheduled for this fall.
But that election won’t happen if some BLET officials get their way.
In December, BLET divisions 13, 98, 155, and 236 circulated a petition to overturn the new voting system. And they’re hoping to get it passed before the first election can happen.
Their goal is to let the delegates to the BLET convention choose the union’s top officers—the union’s old system for choosing officers.
Why? They say that elections cost too much, that members don’t vote, and that delegates are more informed than average members and will make better decisions.
Was the old system better? Three of the last top officers chosen by the delegates at the last convention are now gone in disgrace—including two presidents. Police arrested the last president, Ed Rodzwicz, at his home for taking a $20,000 bribe from a union attorney.
Three Hurdles to Pass
To pass, the initiative will have to clear three hurdles.
First, divisions representing 25 percent of the BLET membership have to take action at a meeting to support the initiative.
If it doesn’t get that support in six months, the initiative dies.
If it clears that hurdle, a ballot will be sent to every member to vote on the initiative.
Finally, if a majority of voters agree to give up their Right to Vote, Hoffa will get a say. The Teamster General President must approve the initiative for it to take effect.
Hoffa has the power to stop the takeaway and save members’ Right to Vote right now by promising not to approve the initiative.
Members Say ‘No!’
Rank-and-file members and local officers are getting organized to save the Right to Vote.
They’ve formed BLET Members for Democracy, and they’re organizing conference calls, distributing flyers and a four-page Q&A, and getting members to sign a petition to save the Right to Vote.
Their efforts are already meeting with success. Reports are rolling in from divisions that have voted down the initiative: El Paso Division 192, Delaware Division 484, and Little Rock Division 182, for example. Illinois Division 724 and New York Division 11 voted down the initiative unanimously.
Most divisions have not considered the measure yet. You can help save the Right to Vote. Download flyers, the Q&A, and the petition at www.tdu.org/blet-vote
BLET Members Stand Up for the Right to Vote
December 18, 2009: Just two months after the head of the BLET was arrested for taking a $20,000 bribe, some rail officials are trying to take away the Right to Vote for BLET officials.
Now BLET members are teaming up to protect their Right to Vote. They’ve launched a committee called BLET Members for Democracy.
They’re educating members about how the Right to Vote lets them hold top officials accountable.
Click here to download a flyer from BLET Members for Democracy.
Click here to download “Questions and Answers About the Right to Vote.”
Click here to download a petition members can sign to protect the Right to Vote.
Want to find out more? Email the new committee at info [at] bletmembersfordemocracy.org
What do you think? Click here to send your comments and suggestions to Teamsters for a Democratic Union.
BLET Officials Move to Take Away the Right to Vote
December 4, 2009. Just two months after the national president of the BLET was arrested for taking a $20,000 bribe, some officials have proposed taking away members’ right to vote for their top officers.
On Dec. 1, Div. 98 President Roy Helm wrote to all local divisions, asking them to approve an initiative that would take away the right to vote for the top officers of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) in the IBT. Click here to read Helm’s letter.
BLET members won the Right to Vote in a referendum vote in 2006.
The first direct election of BLET officers is scheduled for Fall 2010.
On Oct. 12, BLET President Ed Rodzwicz was arrested at his home for taking a $20,000 bribe in October.
Rodzwicz allegedly solicited the bribe from an attorney in exchange for letting the attorney remain on the union’s list of designated legal counsel for injury cases.
Rodzwicz resigned on Nov. 20. Paul Sorrow is the new president of the union.
Rodzwicz is the second BLET president in a row to leave in disgrace. In 2007, President Don Hahs was caught embezzling tens of thousands of dollars from the union, and was removed from office.
Earlier this year, the Independent Review Board (IRB) charged BLET Vice President Rick Radek with embezzlement, too. Radek resigned and agreed to pay the money back.Taking Away Your Rights
Rodzwicz, Hahs, and Radek were all elected to high office in 2006 by a vote of the convention delegates—not a direct election.
That’s the system Helm and other officials want to bring back.
In his letter to other officers, Helm says: “Since the vast majority of people in most societies don’t have the time or the inclination to become and remain informed and involved, those societies have developed representative democracy, like our federal, state, and local governments, and like the BLET and the labor movement, as a whole.”
Newsflash to Helms: in the United States, we get to vote for our representatives and the president.
Members will have a chance to stop this proposal. First, it must be approved by division meetings representing 25 percent of the BLET membership.
If it makes it past that hurdle, every member of the BLET will be mailed a ballot to vote on the proposal.The Cure for Corruption
Rodzwicz and Hahs always opposed the Right to Vote. No wonder.
We believe the Right to Vote is the best protection against corruption in our union.
The vast majority of BLET officers are honest and hard-working. But some corrupt officers at the national level have disgraced our union by stealing the members’ money.
“Do some officials think we’re too stupid to vote?” asked Hugh Sawyer from Division 316 in Atlanta. “One-person, one-vote works for every other election in the United States. Why not for the BLET?”
Now it’s up to members to mobilize to protect this hard-earned right—and to rid their union of corruption.
Click here to download the letter from Helm.
What do you think? Click here to contact TDU’s network in rail and sign-up for email updates.
NY Times: Railway Strike Is Ended
December 3, 2009: About 1,700 locomotive engineers ended their strike against the Canadian National Railway on Wednesday after reaching a settlement. The walkout, which began Saturday, had disrupted shipping throughout Canada. The government introduced back-to-work legislation on Monday. On Tuesday, Canadian National withdrew its demand to raise the minimum number of miles engineers must cover each month.
Progressive Railroading: Canadian locomotive engineers launch strike at CN
November 30, 2009: On Saturday, Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC)-represented locomotive engineers walked off the job at CN. Members of the union, which represents 1,700 CN engineers, have worked without an agreement since Dec. 31, 2008, and the parties have tried to negotiate a contract the past 14 months.
On Friday, CN announced that contract talks had broken off and the Class I anticipated a strike. TCRC had issued a 72-hour strike notice earlier in the week.
Read the full article from ProgressiveRailroading.com
Journal of Commerce: Teamsters Canada Rail Conference Strikes the CN
Novemeber 30, 2009: Canada’s labor minister plans to offer legislation to force an end to the two-day-old strike against Canadian National Railway by locomotive engineers.
Labor Minister Rona Ambrose was expected to put that measure before the House of Commons Nov. 30, reportedly describing the strike as a threat to Canada’s efforts to recover from the past year’s deep recession.
Click here to read more at The Journal of Commerce.