LAS VEGAS, October 4 – Dennis R. Pierce was reelected by acclamation to his third full term as National President of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen yesterday at the union’s Fourth National Convention in Las Vegas. Additionally, all Advisory Board members were elected without opposition. Their terms of office will begin on January 1, 2019.
“You have my appreciation and I am honored to serve this great Brotherhood for another four years,” President Pierce said. “I have hope for our future and I want you to leave here with hope, too. Thank you.”
The following officers of the Advisory Board also were reelected by acclamation: E. Lee Pruitt, First Vice President; Stephen J. Bruno, National Secretary-Treasurer; John P. Tolman, Vice President and National Legislative Representative; Marcus J. Ruef, Vice President; Michael D. Twombly, Vice President; Michael D. Priester, Vice President; Richard C. Gibbons, Vice President; David P. Estes, Trustee; and William P. Lyons, Trustee.
Elected by acclamation to the office of National Vice President was current National Division Trustee Mark L. Wallace. Brother Wallace was elected by acclamation as National Division Trustee at the BLET’s Third National Convention in 2014, and he will fill the office of National Vice President Cole Davis, who is retiring.
New to the Advisory Board is General Chairman Alan Holdcraft, BNSF (former ATSF GCA), who was elected by acclamation to the office of National Vice President. Brother Holdcraft fills the vacancy created by National Vice President Gil Gore, who is retiring.
Also new to the Advisory Board is General Chairman Richard E. (Dick) Crow, Union Pacific-Northern Region, who was elected by acclamation to the office of National Division Trustee. Brother Crow fills the vacancy created by Brother Wallace, who was elevated to the office of National Vice President.
Twelve alternate officer positions also were filled by acclamation today. They are as follows: David P. Estes, Alternate Secretary-Treasurer; Vincent G. Verna, 1st Alternate Vice President and National Legislative Representative; Paul S. Piekarski, 2nd Alternate Vice President and National Legislative Representative; William P. Lyons, 1st Alternate Vice President; Richard E. Crow, 2nd Alternate Vice President; L. Randy Fannon, 3rd Alternate Vice President; Peter Semenek, 4th Alternate Vice President; Patrick Driscoll, 5th Alternate Vice President; Garrison Best, 6th Alternate Vice President; Brian Carr, 7th Alternate Vice President; A. Dan Cook III, 8th Alternate Vice President; and Jeff Thurman, 9th Alternate Vice President.
Earlier in the day, delegates enjoyed a video presentation from Nevada Senator Catherine Cortez Masto. She has spent her career fighting for Nevada’s working families. She served two terms as Attorney General of Nevada and, in November 2016, became the first Latina and the first woman from Nevada ever elected to the United States Senate.
“I am fighting every day along side your union to protect organized labor and the rights of union members to fight for good paying jobs and to demand a dignified retirement and affordable healthcare for workers. We stand together in the fight for workers’ rights across America and we must not give up… We must do all we can to fight to protect the hard fought gains of union families. Thank you for being a partner in this fight for economic opportunity for all,” Senator Cortez Masto said.
In the afternoon session, delegates were privileged to hear an informational presentation by National Transportation Board Member Jennifer Homendy. She was nominated to the five-year position in mid-April, and the Senate confirmed her nomination in August of 2018. Homendy previously served as the Democratic Staff Director of the Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials, a position she held since 2004. Homendy has also worked as a legislative representative for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and for the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO.
Homendy discussed the January 6, 2005 fatal train accident and chlorine spill in Graniteville, S.C., which resulted in the death of 9 people and injured more than 500 with inhalation injuries. One of the deaths was BLET member Chris Seeling, who was Secretary-Treasurer of BLET Division 85 in West Columbia, S.C. Brother Seeling was only 28 years old. The accident was one of several fatalities that led to the Congressional mandate for implementation of Positive Train Control (PTC).
“Had PTC been implemented on that line, that accident never would have occurred,” Homendy said. “The NTSB has issued one safety recommendation after another to the railroads to implement PTC, or some form of it, for nearly 50 years. To me, one death is too many. How many of you have lost a brother or sister on-the-job or known someone who has? No one should lose their life earning a paycheck, especially when actions can be taken to prevent such a tragedy…. As the newest Member of the NTSB, I will continue to advocate for full implementation of PTC and other NTSB safety recommendations, and I commit to each and every one of you that I will work tirelessly to ensure that you and your members are safe.”
Also in the afternoon session delegates saw a video presentation from Massachusetts Congressman Joe Kennedy III (4th District), who urged members to vote for labor-friendly candidates in the upcoming November elections.
“This election is so important. Yes, like all the others, but this one even more so. Because what you fight for, the values that we all fight for, are truly at stake. Whether its making sure that people stand shoulder to shoulder with working men and women to protect our pensions, to invest in our roads and bridges and infrastructure, to make that we rebuild this country road by road, block by block, railroad by railroad. To make sure that men and women can actually get an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work. To make sure that our healthcare is going to be there and that our pensions are going to be there too. This is what you fight for and I’m honored to stand right by your side,” Rep. Kennedy said.
Delegates also received written greetings from Tom Perez, Chairman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC). Perez served as the Secretary of Labor under President Obama.
“As the former Secretary of Labor under President of Obama and the Chair of the DNC, I want to congratulate you and the men and women of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen on 155 years of organizing and fighting for working families,” Perez wrote. “Your mission, ‘to promote and protect the rights, interests, and safety of its members through solidarity, aggressive representation, and education,’ has led to many victories for the 55,000 members of the BLET (and) countless workers, families and communities across our nation.”
Delegates heard the report of the Legislative Committee, chaired by D.K. Brown, Division 517 (City) and Chairman of the Illinois State Legislative Board. He introduced Committee Members M.D. Frank, Division 899 (Birmingham, Ala.); B.J. Farkas, Division 121 (Indianapolis, Ind.); and P.S. Pfeifer, Division 388 (North Platte, Neb.). Delegates adopted their report without debate.
Delegates rounded out the afternoon with further deliberations and consideration of recommendations made by the BLET Bylaws Committee.
Additional news updates, photographs and videos will be provided at the BLET’s convention website (http://www.bletconvention.org) and Facebook page (http://www.Facebook.com/BLETNational).