INDEPENDENCE, Ohio, March 19 — The BLET’s National Association of State Legislative Board Chairmen (NASLBC) kicked off its 43rd annual meeting in New Orleans on March 12, 2018. Ron Batory, the newly-confirmed Administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), delivered remarks to the group, with the BLET’s Executive Committee and Advisory Board also in attendance.
NASLBC Chairman Paul Piekarski called the meeting to order and introduced members of the BLET Executive Committee, who then addressed the body.
BLET National President Dennis R. Pierce laid out the challenges the BLET faces in the legislative and collective bargaining arenas and took questions from the audience. Next, First Vice President E. Lee Pruitt spoke about several issues, including inward facing cameras. National Secretary-Treasurer Stephen J. Bruno then provided an update on the union’s finances and the new membership database software system.
Administrator Batory said he wanted to personally present his background and credentials to the BLET and promised a new day of being safety aware for both the railroads and BLET members. Batory brings more than 50 years of railroad industry experience to the FRA Administrator’s position. He discussed his views on the myriad of issues faced by those behind the throttle and engaged in an extensive question and answer session that touched upon train length and rail management’s indifference to calls from BLET leaders regarding railroad safety.
Following Batory’s remarks, BLET Vice President and National Legislative Representative John P. Tolman said: “We look forward to working with him on critical issues facing our nation’s freight and commuter rail systems, and wish him much success at FRA.”
Also during the meeting, the NASLBC took time to recognize three outstanding Brothers. Former State Legislative Board Chairmen Terry Todd (Arkansas) and Jeff Worthington (Utah) were recognized for their recent reitrements and for their many years of dedicated service to the Brotherhood. Also, current Missouri State Legislative Board Chairman Brian Kelley, who plans to retire later this year, was honored for his leadership, service and commitment to the BLET. BLET National President Pierce congratulated the three Brothers and wished them long and happy retirements. “I’m told retirement is the best job you can bid on,” President Pierce said.
NASLBC Chairman Piekarski recognized and seated three new State Legislative Board Chairmen: Wayne Denson (Arkansas), Bill Fleishman (New York), and Scott Weeks (Utah).
Also of note were comments by BNSF (former ATSF) General Chairman J. Alan Holdcraft, who spoke to the group about the importance of solidarity within our Brotherhood. He stressed how important it is for General Chairmen to work together with the State Legislative Board Chairmen.
Members of the BLET National Division staff as well as staff from the BLET National Legislative Office in Washington D.C. were also in attendance.
The NASLBC has met annually since 1975 to hear from each State Chairman about railroad-related safety and health issues as well as their state’s political climate.