|ONLINE VERSION||AUGUST 1999|
|Letters to the Editor|
|NOTE: FIRST LETTER W/ PHOTO
TO MY FELLOW BMWE MEMBERS:
My name is Donald Aspery. I have been a member of BMWE since 1966. I am writing to you because I need some help with the problem I have. I have noticed in the past that the BMWE has aided brothers in need and I hoped you would run my story in the BMWE Journal. I would also ask my brothers and sisters to take time to read my story and if you are able to offer any assistance, please do so.
My son, Tommy Aspery, was assaulted in Cleveland, Ohio. He was 26 years old. He was robbed and struck in the head with a blunt instrument. As a result of his injuries he went into a coma and never regained consciousness. Tommy was hospitalized for eight months. He had no life insurance. We were told that a group that supports the victims of violent crime would pay for his funeral expenses but in fact they only pay a small part of the actual cost, and to date we have received no money from them. We are in need of $12,000. If there is anything you, as a fellow brother or sister of the BMWE, can do to help us out in our time of great need, it would be much appreciated.
Also, I am currently ill and have come down with Bell's Palsy as a result of all the stress I went through. Subsequently, I have been on sick leave since July of 1998. Tommy passed away on April 18, 1998, my mother-in-law passed away six weeks later. It has been a very stressful and difficult time for myself and my entire family. I am also recovering from surgery on my right arm and approximately in four months I will have to undergo surgery on my other arm
Any brother or sister who is able to extend a helping hand to another Union brother and wishes to do so, may send donations to:
Memory of Thomas Aspery
Thanking you in advance for your consideration and generosity.
Donald C. Aspery and family
On Tuesday, May 11, 1999 an Amtrak Electric Traction Department sub-station gang consisting of electrician Fran Pucylowski, trainee Lamont Harrell and myself, along with C&S maintainer Bill Edwards, were digging beside No. 4 track at the Lamokin north-bound home signal in Chester, Pennsylvania.
We had cleared the tracks for north-bound train no. 106 and were waiting for it to get far enough past us to safely go back to work when we heard engineer T. L. Miller on the radio declare an emergency, stating the train struck someone.
Quickly checking for any other trains the four of us walked north up the tracks. Four cat poles [catenary poles--approximately 250 feet apart] from where we had been working, we found a woman with severe injuries to her head, arm, and leg partly wedged under the fence between no. 2 and no. 3 tracks. She was alive and at least semi-conscious.
After informing conductor H. Hannah of her condition and calling the zone 5 power director Mike Salvatore to send for an ambulance, we got to work doing what we could. Fran Pucylowski went back to cover the hole we had dug, Bill Edwards went out to 7th Street to guide in the ambulance, and I continued acting as watchman.
It was at this point that Lamont Harrell, a trainee with less than a year on the railroad and a volunteer fireman with Station 14, Bristol, Pa., took it upon himself to offer what comfort he could to the injured lady. He stayed beside her, talking to her in a calm and reassuring voice. When the EMTs arrived, he identified himself and began assisting them in caring for the woman, handing them their equipment, helping to get the patient on the backboard and then on the gurney. He then helped move the gurney across no. 3 and no. 4 tracks, staying with her until they closed the ambulance doors. Once that was done, he cut away his bloody work clothes and had a well deserved case of the shakes.
Mention should also be made of Electric Traction linemen Rob Orsini, George Breader, and Anthony Kemp as well as track inspector Mike Phillips. They arrived within ten minutes of the emergency call and provided assistance with additional watchmen, track fouls, and removing the fence the woman was stuck under.
That men from different crafts and departments could arrive at such a scene and immediately turn to render aid and make the railroad safe for all the police and emergency personnel speaks well of Amtrak employees, but the man of the hour has to be Lamont Harrell, who gave that extra little bit more.
Dave Bissex, Gang Foreman
Dear Union Representatives:
We men and women of the BNSF railroad would like you to know how encouraged we are over your attempts to reduce the retirement age for railroad employees. We do believe that age should make no difference in retirement ability if there are 30 years of service. However, we also realize improvements over such changes come slowly and a little at a time. This is why we embrace your vision for retirement at age 55 with 30 years of service. We are anxious to hear your proposals of what would make this possible. Because of your many difficulties of trying to get so many people to agree on specifics for 55 and 30, perhaps the consideration of individual choice might be the best and most viable way to go. An example is the 401K savings program. It's optional, not mandatory and available to those who choose to sacrifice in order to take advantage of it. We are willing to work with you and our employer to make 55 and 30 a reality. Thank you for all your efforts on behalf of the working men and women of BNSF railroad.
The employees that have had the opportunity to read this letter have signed the petition. It simply is impossible to circulate it all over the state of New Mexico and the country.
We are so encouraged over this issue, we want you to know that we have also written to the President, Vice President, our New Mexican senators and congressmen and women. We want everyone who will play a part in making this issue become a reality to know we are serious and that we want change.
BNSF Railroad Employes