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INDEPENDENCE, Ohio, November 24 — In the spirit of the Thanksgiving holiday, I wish to express my heartfelt thanks to each and every member of our proud Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen. You are indeed what makes the BLET the leading Rail Labor union in the United States, and your dedication makes the American economy the strongest in the world.

In addition to our members, I would like to thank all of our elected officers and staff at the national, general committee, state and local levels. I am grateful for your hard work and devotion to our Brotherhood. Members willing to serve as Officers deserve our respect and gratitude — not only during the holiday season — but also all year long.

In October, the BLET held its Fifth National Convention and all BLET members should be proud of the results. Our delegates adopted numerous important changes to strengthen our Bylaws and our Brotherhood. They are part of a long line of delegates who proudly carry the torch of our Brotherhood that was first lit by the brave founders who established our great union in 1863. I am thankful for our delegates and am proud of the work they accomplished while in session.

I am also thankful for the members who took the time to vote this month in the national contract ratification process. It was a long and difficult road to ratification. The fact that a record number of you participated in the balloting process shows that our membership is engaged. But the close count also shows that even though the new agreement will bring increased wages and more predictable time off to many members, there is still work to be done to improve the quality of life for operating employees and we are committed to that goal. Regardless of how any member voted, the tremendous rate of return on ballots showed the industry and other outsiders that our solidarity remains strong in the face of adversity. Thank you.

But the current round of national negotiations is not yet over. Members of several of our fellow Rail Labor Unions have voted no on the agreement. We will continue to stand in solidarity with those Brothers and Sisters to see that their collective bargaining goals have been met. If they reach the point of a strike or lockout, we will honor their picket lines and walk with them in solidarity.

More importantly, Thanksgiving can be an especially challenging time of year for BLET members and their families. Many members will find themselves in the cab of a locomotive or at an away-from-home terminal instead of at the dinner table with loved ones. Please join me in keeping all hardworking BLET members in our thoughts and prayers for a safe journey back home.

On behalf of the BLET Advisory Board, I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving.