LAS VEGAS, October 11 — BLET National President Dennis R. Pierce delivered the Report of the National President during the morning session of the BLET’s Fifth National Convention on October 10. His report focused on the Tentative National Freight Agreement and a call for unity now and in the days to come.
President Pierce provided an in depth history of the current round of national bargaining, beginning with the filing of Section 6 notices in November of 2019. Regarding the current status of the tentative national agreement, President Pierce said: “My comments today are not meant to encourage you to vote for or against the tentative national agreement, as that decision to ratify or reject the agreement will be made by the nearly 23,000 members who will receive their ballots in the coming days.”
President Pierce said that SMART-TD’s victory in the Crew Consist battle is being underappreciated by many. “In one of my previous messages to the membership, I wrote that our fight over attendance policies, and the delays in the bargaining round were all what the battle for two person crews looks like,” he said. “All of us who hold conductor seniority should see the value in protecting those jobs as the recommendation does.”
He continued: “Equally important, this is the first national agreement to include negotiated language limiting a Carrier’s rights to impose attendance policies. While it may not seem like enough to some, the combination of up to 90 days off in pool service without any attendance points assessable, and limits on attendance points for certain medical events will dramatically change the lives of our members who work in pool service.”
President Pierce said the National Division will host a Town Hall style meeting regarding the tentative agreement, to be held tomorrow, and there will be a question and answer session with the members in attendance. He concluded: “Brothers and Sisters, as I stated earlier, you will decide the outcome of this round of bargaining. Regardless if you vote for or against the contract, please participate in our ratification process.”
President Pierce called for members to remain vigilant in avoiding misinformation and fake news meant to divide the membership: “From the trainmaster’s office to Facebook chat boards, there are forces trying to tear us apart and pit our members against each other. Take the time to learn the truth and facts about the Union’s activities, as compared to the misinformation so rampant on social media on any given day.”
President Pierce concluded his state of the union address with a call for increased membership involvement in the business of the Brotherhood: “Brothers and Sisters, I know I’m preaching to the choir here, but I’m going to repeat again what I’ve said countless times over the past 12 years I have served as your National President: if we are to succeed, BLET membership cannot be a spectator sport. Maximizing success in our struggles requires the active participation of each and every member … becoming educated on the issues … and acting in unity.
“Increased participation starts with all of the people in this room. When I look, I see some incredible labor leaders, from the men seated behind me to all of you. As we move forward, I am asking you to stay involved in your Union. Be proud that you belong to the oldest labor Union in America, and be part of an effort to restore true Brotherhood to our proud Organization.”