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Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) members who work for the Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway have voted to authorize a strike if the union and railroad fail to reach an agreement to settle a contract dispute, the union announced yesterday.The BLET mailed strike ballots to more than 150 BLET members, more than 75 of whom hold seniority as both locomotive engineers and trainmen. Ballots were counted late this month and 100 percent of them cast in each craft were in favor of a strike should one become necessary, BLET officials said in a press release.BLET holds the contract to represent both locomotive engineer and trainman crafts at the railroad. Contract negotiations began in January 2012. The union requested mediation in August of that year and a mediator was assigned.The two sides have continued to bargain under the mediation for nearly five years. They reached a tentative agreement in September 2016, but that was rejected by a majority of voting members. In May, BLET National President Dennis Pierce formally requested the meditator declare an impasse and proffer arbitration as a possible prelude to being released from mediation.
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