B   M   W   E
News In Brief
BMWE Considering Mergers

At the Grand Lodge Officers meeting held on May 19, several merger proposals were presented to the officers for their review. Following the presentations, the Grand Lodge Officers advised President Mac A. Fleming to appoint a committee to review current contacts the BMWE has had with four other organizations regarding a potential affiliation or merger. The four organizations are the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio with a total membership of about 56,000; the Brotherhood of Railway Signalmen, located in Mount Prospect, Illinois with a membership of around 11,000; the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers and Helpers, located in Kansas City, Kansas; and the Tranport Workers of America in New York, New York. The TWU is structured in three divisions: Rail, Airlines and Mass Transit, with rail being the smallest division with about 5,000 members. Members appointed to the Committee on Affiliation/Merger are: David Tanner, Union Pacific System Division; Perry Geller, Consolidated Rail System Federation; David Joynt, Burlington System Division; Jim Knight, Seaboard Federation; and Bill Palmer, Missouri Pacific System Federation. Advisors to the committee from Grand Lodge are Bill LaRue, Secretary-Treasurer, Joel Myron, Director of Strategic Coordination and Research and Bill Bon, General Counsel.

Railroad Crafts Scholarship Foundation

Ten of the 15 recipients of $1,000 scholarships awarded by the Foundation this year for the 1999/2000 school year were children of BMWE members. The BMWE is proud to announce they are: Alan Beussink, Christopher Blevins, Amanda Hanson, Josh Hooper (also received a scholarship last year), Anna Mercado, Jennifer Morgan, Jake Newman, Derek Nyberg, Kristal Philpot and Katie Smith. The Railroad Crafts Scholarship Foundation was established in 1995 by John Mullen, General Chairman on the BNSF for the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, to provide financial aid to children of active, retired or deceased railroad employees who would be unable to attend college without such assistance. The number of people dedicated to this effort increases every year as does the number of fund raising events. The BMWE plans to begin making annual contributions to this worthy cause and encourages members and BMWE groups to do so also. Contributions should be made payable to the Railroad Crafts Scholarship Foundation and sent to 611 North Broadway, Joshua, Texas 76058. An article will appear in the BMWE JOURNAL when applications are available for the next scholarship period.

Another Helping Hand

The John Edgar Thomson Foundation, established in 1882 and endowed by the will of Mr. Thomson, third president of the Pennsylvania Railroad, offers limited financial aid to daughters of a deceased parent. The parent must have been in the active employ of any railroad in the United States at the time of death, although the cause need not be work related. Whatever grant is awarded usually services to benefit all members of the family. The monthly allowance made under the grant may cover the period from infancy to age 18; under certain circumstances to age 22, to assist grantees who are pursuing higher educational goals. The Foundation also offers special health care benefits. Funding for the work of the Foundation is completely independent of any railroad. It neither solicits nor receives funds from the public. Further information and applications may be obtained by writing to: Sheila Cohen, Director, The John Edgar Thomson Foundation, 201 South Eighteenth Street, Suite 318, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19103, Phone/FAX: 215-545-6083.

@ PHOTO Sub-heading = United Brotherhood of the Rainbow

@ PHOTO Cutline = The fifth annual meeting of the Brotherhood of the Rainbow was held in Atlanta, Georgia on June 26 and 27. Shown are, left to right, standing, Tim McCall, Bill LaRue, George Collie, Earl McClendon, seated, Frank Coleman, Clarence Former, Jesse Sydnor, Anthony Rochon.

Truck & Bus Safety

Responding to a flurry of proposals reforming the way the federal government polices truck and bus safety, transportation labor issued a News Release on May 27 calling on Congress and the Clinton Administration to "tighten the clamps" on unsafe truck and bus operators, boost worker training and public education, decouple safety enforcement from infrastructure financing functions, close regulatory loopholes, and create a separate office to ensure safe cross-border operations between the U. S., Mexico and Canada. "Washington regulators and lawmakers must find the political will to get serious about curbing injuries and fatalities on our nation's highways," declared Sonny Hall, president of the AFL-CIO Transportation Trades Department. TTD represents 30 affiliated unions, including the BMWE, whose several million members in the private and public sectors operate, maintain, build and service the aviation, rail, transit, trucking, highway, longshore and related industries.

@ Sub-Heading = TTD Opposes Workplace Preservation Act

The so-called "Workplace Preservation Act" (H.R. 987) is being vigorously opposed by the TTD because this legislation, introduced by Rep. Ray Blunt (R-MO) would prevent the Occupational Safety and Health Administration from even proposing standards and guidelines that are designed to reduce employee injuries and illnesses caused by ergonomic hazards. Ergonomic hazards are now America's biggest safety problem in the workplace; in excess of 600,000 workers fall victim to ergonomic hazards each year. (Ergonomics is the study of the mental and physical capacities of persons in relation to the demands made upon them by various kinds of work.)

Voice@Work Campaign

Forty-five million nonunion workers said that they would vote yes for a union according to a recent public opinion poll conducted by Peter Hart Research, but only 475,000 joined a union last year. The research shows that 75% of the public say it is fairly important or very important to have strong labor laws giving workers the right to form and join unions. But, the reality is that few Americans (70%) don't know that right is routinely denied and think that the balance of power is roughly even between management and labor. To address this gap in knowledge, the AFL-CIO is launching the Voice@Work campaign as a part of its Change to Organize program. The short-term goal of the campaign is to change the climate in which we organize by building public support for unions. The long-term goal is about changing the rules so that more workers have the freedom to join a union.

Workers are Winning More Union Elections, Statistics Show

A June 11 AFL-CIO press release stated that new federal statistics released that day show that workers are holding and winning more union elections than in previous years, and the elections are for an increasing number of workers. The statistics were compiled by the Bureau of National Affairs from National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) data for 1998. For the first time since the statisticians began counting, workers won half of the elections in which they participated for units of 500 or more. Workers won 1,653 elections, or 51.2 percent of elections held in 1998, compared to 1,591 elections, or 50.3 percent of elections held in 1997. The number of elections increased to 3,229 from 3,160 in 1997, a 2.2 percent increase. An increased number of elections reflects increased worker interest -- in order for an election to even take place, workers have to first submit a petition or signed union cards to the NLRB. The NLRB statistics do not include some of the largest organizing wins in 1998 which occurred under the National Railway Labor Act or through employer recognition of majority worker support outside an election process. At least 475,000 workers formed new unions at their workplaces in 1998, according to union statistics. Union membership rose for the first time in years in 1998 -- by more than 100,000 -- according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics data released in January of 1999. The number of union members in the U.S. rose from 16.1 million to 16.2 million. The share of the workforce belonging to unions declined from 14.1 percent to 13.9 percent, reflecting a loss of manufacturing jobs due to weakness in the global economy. Union density in the service sector -- the largest sector of the economy -- rose for the first time from 5.4 percent to 5.6 percent.

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