INDEPENDENCE, Ohio, April 14 — Paid sick leave and rail safety were among the topics of discussion as members of the BLET’s National General Chairmen’s Association (NGCA) concluded their annual meeting, which was held at the BLET National Division headquarters on April 12.
The NGCA meets annually for the purpose of carrying on concerted movements relating to wages, working conditions, education, training, sharing pertinent information, and other important matters of general interest to BLET members. The General Chairmen conducted business and exchanged information regarding paid sick leave, electronic bid systems, excessive train length, and various other safety-related problems caused by the widespread implementation of so-called “precision scheduled railroading.”
NGCA Chairman Mark Kenny (Amtrak) attended the meeting via Zoom. NGCA Vice Chairman-West Robby Cunningham (BNSF/ATSF) chaired the in-person meeting with assistance from NGCA Secretary-Treasurer Jeff Thurman (BNSF/STL-SF). The General Chairmen elected Pat Driscoll (Conrail/CSXT Northern District) to the office of NGCA Vice Chairman-East. Brother Jerry Sturdivant (NS-Southern Lines) remains NGCA Vice Chairman-Southeast.
Primary guest speakers included National President Eddie Hall, First Vice President Mark Wallace, and Vice President and National Legislative Representative Vince Verna. President Hall’s remarks addressed the BLET’s external media campaign to make the public aware of the union’s efforts to secure two-person train crews, reduce train lengths, and improve rail safety overall. President Hall also talked about the BLET’s plan to ramp up the organizing of non-union Short Line railroads. First Vice President Wallace discussed the union’s efforts to oppose the rail industry’s dangerous push to expand the limits of remote control train operations. Vice President and National Legislative Representative Verna gave the General Chairmen a rundown of the Railway Safety Improvement Act of 2023 in the U.S. Senate, the Federal Railroad Administration’s recent safety advisory regarding train makeup, and state-level two-person crew bills and related rail safety legislation.
The NGCA members voted to return to BLET National Division headquarters again next year to conduct their 2024 annual meeting.