INDEPENDENCE, Ohio, May 3 — Minnesota Governor Tim Walz focused on rail safety as the guest of honor at the BLET Minnesota State Legislative Board’s quadrennial meeting in Bloomington, Minn., April 23-26, 2023. Among other items, Governor Walz discussed with BLET members the dangers of precision scheduled railroading, excessive train lengths, the need for two-person train crews, and various ways to improve the quality of life for railroad workers.
Also at the meeting were State Senator Jen McEwen (District 8) and State Representative Jeff Brand (District 18A). Senator McEwen authored the BLET’s minimum crew size bill (SF 1417) that is currently making its way through the state Senate, while Rep. Brand authored a companion crew size bill (HF 1272) under consideration in the state House of Representatives.
In addition to hearing from these distinguished speakers, delegates conducted business by making changes to the Board’s bylaws and also held the election of officers.
Brother Joel Mueller of Division 9 (Waseca, Minn.) was reelected by acclamation to the office of Chairman. Brother Mueller’s service to the Minnesota SLB began in 2011 when he was elected Alternate Secretary-Treasurer. In 2015, he was elected Secretary-Treasurer. Brother Mueller was elected 1st Vice Chairman in 2019 and, the following year, was elevated to the office of Chairman following the retirement of outgoing Chairman David K. Brown. Brother Mueller hired out with the DM&E in 1995. After switching employment to the Union Pacific in August of 2000, he earned promotion to locomotive engineer in 2004 and joined the BLET.
Also elected at the quadrennial meeting were: 1st Vice Chairman Tom Moder, Division 163 (Proctor, Minn.); 2nd Vice Chairman John Toth, Division 517 (St. Paul, Minn.); and Secretary-Treasurer Mark Anderson, Division 333 (St. Paul, Minn.). Elected to the Executive Committee were Chad Roehrich, Division 27 (St. Cloud, Minn.), and Chuck Loomis, Division 549 (Willmar, Minn.). Elected as Trustees were: Boyd Schernbeck, Division 357 (Minneapolis, Minn.); Tom Moder, Division 163 (Proctor, Minn.); and Tom Gasior, Division 369 (Minneapolis, Minn.). Elected to serve as Alternate Trustees were: Terry Welsh, Division 494 (Minneapolis, Minn.); Dan Hauschild, Division 202 (Dilworth, Minn.); and Vince Holwell, Division 333 (St. Paul, Minn.).
BLET Vice President and National Legislative Representative Vince Verna attended the meeting and addressed delegates, along with BLET Director of Political and Legislative Affairs Brendon Sullivan.
As part of the quadrennial meeting, the delegates traveled to the state capital in St. Paul to meet face-to-face with legislators and to lobby in favor of rail safety legislation.
“I congratulate Brother Mueller and all officers of the Minnesota State Legislative Board, and thank them for their service to our Brotherhood,” National President Eddie Hall said. “The fact that the sitting governor attended the meeting is a testament to the strength and influence of our Minnesota State Legislative Board. Keep up the good work.”
The BLET Minnesota State Legislative Board represents over 1,000 active and retired members in 11 Divisions.