217.370.8505 cory@bletislb.org

BLET marks 152nd anniversary today


CLEVELAND, May 8 — The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen
proudly celebrates its 152nd anniversary today. The union was founded as
the Brotherhood of the Footboard on May 8, 1863 in Marshall, Mich. In
1864, the union changed its name to Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers
(BLE), the name it retained for 140 years until merging with the
International Brotherhood of Teamsters on Jan. 1, 2004, when it became the

The organization was formed in the early 1860s when locomotive engineers
on the Michigan Central Railroad became discouraged with pay cuts and the
dismissal of their firemen. During that time, locomotive engineers at the
Michigan Central were being paid at the rate of $60 a month on the
condition that they ran at least 2,500 miles each month, regardless of the
time consumed.

The BLET was the first labor organization to obtain contracts with
railroads. Among the earliest was an agreement with the former New York
Central in 1875. Today, the BLET has dozens of contracts with railroads
large and small, and represents locomotive engineers on 98 percent of rail
trackage in the United States. The BLET is the oldest labor union in North

The Brotherhood has always been proud to support America’s soldiers and
their families. Born in the midst of the Civil War, our union’s membership
has been comprised of veterans of every major military conflict since, up
to and including the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Today, the BLET is the founding member of the Teamsters Rail Conference.
The union represents more than 50,000 active and retired members
throughout the United States, and remains one of the largest and most
influential railroad unions in the nation.