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8/5/2004



Rail News: Labor

BMWE, labor department settlement requires re-election of union president, secretary-treasurer



On Aug. 2, the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes and U.S. Department of Labor agreed to settle a lawsuit filed by the department last year that alleged certain campaign improprieties by three officers who won elections at the union's July 2002 convention in Las Vegas.

The department sought re-election of the three officers, but BMWE officials requested and were granted mediation in the case. A mediation session led to the negotiated settlement, which includes a stipulation stating no BMWE official violated laws governing union elections, but requires re-elections, according to a prepared statement.

Labor and union officials agreed to re-run elections for president and secretary-treasurer. A decision regarding the re-election of BMWE's Canadian vice president will be made at a later date because the Canada Industrial Relations Board is considering motions that might affect BMWE's representation in Canada, union officials said.

Department and BMWE officials also agreed to open nominations to interested candidates, and have original electors from the 2002 convention and/or their delegates or alternates cast votes by mail.

"Permitting a re-run vote is a quick and inexpensive way to resolve the lawsuit," said BMWE Acting President Freddie Simpson. "When BMWE sits down to bargain with the railroads, they will face the winner of the re-run election [and] know that they will have to deal seriously with a president who will come to the table with a fresh mandate from the membership."

In the lawsuit, department officials claimed two BMWE officers used union funds to promote their candidacy, and that one officer used union office equipment to prepare campaign literature, and the other used union office equipment and secretarial help to prepare and electronically transmit campaign literature. Officials also alleged that a third officer relied on an unnamed employer to pay a campaign consultant's fee. The officers' names weren't disclosed.


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