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9/10/2002



Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

BMWE, IBB online postings promote proposed merger's benefits


Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes recently posted on its Web site 20 reasons why the union should merge with International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers and Helpers (IBB).


Aside from compatibility — both are blue-collar unions with railroad members — BMWE officials believe the proposed merger would enable the union to: stabilize dues; halt decreasing membership (the union's lost 50 percent of its members since 1980); preserve autonomy; maintain and improve services; create a supplemental pension plan; reduce health and welfare cost sharing, and cut health and welfare costs about 60 percent; offer members and dependents $50,000 in annual college scholarships; offer laid-off members opportunities in construction or as construction apprentices; and eliminate service duplications.


The merged organization also would create a 135,000-member union with more bargaining leverage and 20 full-time organizers; double BMWE's legislative presence in Washington, D.C.; and triple available legislative funds, BMWE said.


Meanwhile, IBB posted on BMWE's site its own 12 reasons why the unions should merge, including that the marriage would increase IBB's rail industry presence and membership; enhance its ability to merge with other rail-labor unions; open the door for organizing opportunities in high-speed rail; and increase its number of skilled workers to supplement industry manpower needs during peak seasons.


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