Legislative & Mobilization
The Legislative Department of the BLET Auxiliary was established to address quality of life, legislative, safety, and security issues affecting locomotive engineers and trainmen, their spouses, their families, and our communities. The department has grown over the last decade thanks to our national, state and local legislative representatives who have worked tirelessly at the federal, state, and local levels to bring about many changes. The Auxiliary works closely with the BLET National Legislative Department and State Legislative Board Chairmen in lobbying our legislative bodies on issues that affect the workplace and quality of life. Individually, Auxiliaries work with their local BLET Divisions to support issues that may affect a particular area, such as cab temperatures, remote control, carry-all vans, rail security training, and labor issues in general.
Legislative updates are provided in each of our quarterly newsletters to keep members informed about the issues currently “on the radar,” providing background information and the status of those issues. The National Legislative Representative is also responsible for sending out legislative alerts whenever we are called upon to act on a particular issue. These alerts contain background information, the status of the issue, and the message our members need to convey to their elected representatives. Our legislative alerts have become an important tool by which we can help the BLET Legislative Department. In order to keep our members informed, we post monthly legislative updates on our website, www.bletauxiliary.net. Many of our local auxiliary legislative representatives and members download these updates to share with the auxiliary members at their monthly auxiliary meetings.
During the 2001 International Convention, the position of Auxiliary State Legislative Representative was established to provide additional support for state and local issues. We still have positions available and encourage anyone interested in the legislative aspect of our organization to contact the Auxiliary National Legislative Representative, Natalie Miller.
The Legislative Department depends on all of our members to be an effective voice in Washington, D.C., and in each state. Politics and legislation may not sound exciting, but it is amazingly interesting once you understand how it works and what is at stake. It is often the only way to truly make changes.
The effectiveness of an organization depends on its ability to speak with one voice for a common cause. Our Mobilization Program was established in 1997 as a way to address issues affecting BLET members and ultimately their spouses and families. This program is the most efficient way we have to communicate with each other on important issues. Because our organization is spread out across the United States, we need a way to contact one another quickly and efficiently when time is of the essence. The Mobilization Program meets that need through the use of telephone calls, e-mails, and correspondence.
We have successfully activated our mobilization networks on numerous occasions to help pass the railroad retirement reform legislation, to prompt our members to educate the public and elected officials on the dangers of remote control operations and congressional attempts to sabotage Amtrak, and the campaign on the National Mediation Board to prevent the Carriers from shirking their duty to negotiate the national contract in good faith with rail labor.
More recently, we have used our mobilization networks to assist the BLET with their Get Out the Vote campaign when their voting process changed from having the delegates elect the national officers to a “one man, one vote” process in 2010. We were again asked by the BLET to activate our mobilization networks to help disseminate information about the collective bargaining process that almost led to a strike in the last months of 2011. Our efforts, combined with those of the BLET, helped to substantially increase the BLET voting participation in both the 2010 election of national officers as well as the strike vote.