BLET delegates back rail labor unity and full Amtrak operations to conclude Fourth National Convention

LAS VEGAS, October 4 — Delegates today adopted resolutions in support of railroad labor unity and Amtrak’s long-distance trains as they wrapped up all business and formally adjourned the BLET’s Fourth National Convention.

Delegates also enjoyed a motivational speech by John Tolman, BLET Vice President and National Legislative Representative as well as a video presentation from the BLET’s 150th anniversary.

Delegates adopted two resolutions during the course of business on October 4. The first resolution cited the success of the Coordinated Bargaining Group (CBG) in the most recent round of national contract negotiations, and supports coalition bargaining in national negotiations.

The second resolution emphasized the BLET’s strong support of the Amtrak national passenger rail network, noting that the number of Amtrak passengers has continued to grow over the years in spite of attempts to kill the service. The resolution noted that: “the current Amtrak management is in the process of closing dozens of small-town train stations, downgrading service and amenities aboard many trains, while threatening to eliminate other trains completely.” The delegates further resolved to condemn actions by Amtrak management, Congress, the President or the freight rail carriers to downgrade, erode or eliminate U.S. passenger rail train service.

During his presentation, Vice President Tolman discussed politics and how it impacts nearly every aspect of the BLET’s operations… from negotiations to safety regulations to Public Law Boards and membership arbitration cases. Brother Tolman urged members to vote for labor-friendly candidates in the upcoming election in November.

“Vote for those who represent our interests,” Vice President Tolman said. “The time is now. Vote for those who support the labor movement so that we can preserve America’s middle class for our children and our grandchildren.”

“Our founding fathers saw a government of the people, by the people and for the people,” he said. “We need to take back our government from one that serves special interests to one that serves working Americans. There’s something wrong in America when corporations are making billions of dollars in profits and they are asking workers to give up benefits. There’s something wrong in America when a train crew goes to work and doesn’t make it home. There’s something wrong in America when the federal government wants to roll back railroad safety regulations. There’s something wrong in America when the Federal Railroad Administration allows a foreign government to operate freight trains in our country and holds them to a lower standard of safety.”

“But as bad as the state of the nation seems, with all the disturbing news, I see a lot that is right with America. The people in this room… you are labor leaders and you are what is right with America. The good people of Missouri who overturned the right-to-work law… they are what is right with America. Teachers in conservative states who are standing up and winning improvements in their pay… they are what is right with America. The number of Americans who are organizing and joining unions is what is right with America. We are on the march.”

President Pierce thanked the National Division staff for their professionalism and personal sacrifice in putting on the Fourth National Convention. In his closing remarks, President Pierce also thanked the Delegates and members in attendance for being involved in their Union.

Delegates also watched a video created in 2013 to commemorate the BLET’s 150th anniversary. Many of the newer delegates in the audience had never seen the video, which highlighted the union’s achievements during its first 150 years of existence.

The BLET’s Fifth National Convention is scheduled for 2022.

Previous news updates, photos and videos are available on the BLET convention website ( and the National Division Facebook page (