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The Arizona Eastern Railway (AZER) train and engine service employees have voted to join the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET), becoming the newest members of BLET, the nation’s oldest union. The election was certified on June 13 by the National Mediation Board (NMB), the federal agency responsible for facilitating labor relations within the nation’s railroads and airlines.

In March, the process officially began when the AZER train and engine service employees signed authorization cards (or “A cards”) indicating they would like to be represented by the BLET. On June 12, AZER employees sent a resounded message to the carrier with 17 of the 19 votes cast for the BLET.

The path to unionization hasn’t been an easy one for these Arizona railroaders. Before BLET’s organizers arrived, in February 2022, the Transportation Division of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail, and Transportation Workers was certified as the representative of the craft or class of AZER, 49 NMB 45 (2022). One year later, in February 2023, SMART-TD sent a letter to the NMB stating that “SMART-TD hereinafter disclaims any and all interest in the representation of the [Train and Engine Service Employees, employees of Arizona Eastern Railway Company], effective immediately.”

“We want to welcome the employees of AZER to the Brotherhood,” said BLET Vice President Randy Fannon, who led the organizing effort. “They deserve representation, and we will proudly represent them.” Brothers Brian Terpening and Jorge Gomez were also instrumental in this effort.

The win at AZER marks the second property the BLET has officially organized with the NMB in the past two years.. “Across the country, locomotive engineers and train service employees at short lines have seen the strides our members have made in quality-of-life and scheduling and want to join us, said BLET National President Eddie Hall. “I congratulate Brothers Fannon, Terpening, and Gomez on a job well done. We have much more work to do. With our revamped organizing department we’re just getting started.”

The Arizona Eastern Railway is a Class III railroad that operates 206 miles between Clifton and Miami, Arizona. It is owned by Genesee & Wyoming Inc.