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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

BLE, Teamsters propose unified rail-labor front under IBT umbrella

Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) are envisioning more than a potential merger between the two unions. They're proposing a rail division under IBT that would negotiate contracts for all railroad workers.

If members ratify a BLE/IBT merger, BLE would be the first rail union under the "IBT Rail Conference," and others might follow, said IBT Secretary/Treasurer C. Thomas Keegel June 17 at the 76th annual Southeastern Meeting Association in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., according to a prepared statement.

"Already, other AFL-CIO affiliated rail unions have contacted the IBT regarding a possible merger if the proposed BLE merger is ratified," he said. "This is a long-term strategy to rebuild the coordination of all rail unions — to make them stronger collectively than they are individually."

Combining all ground-transportation interests — including truck, rail, ports, waterways and longshoremen — under one umbrella "would make a very powerful union," said BLE International President Don Hahs June 3 at a union event in Sparks, Nev.

On July 9 and 10, BLE's Advisory Board plans to meet in Cleveland to review and vote on a merger agreement. If a two-thirds majority approves the agreement, the proposal will be sent to BLE members for a ratification vote.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 6/18/2003