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United Passenger Rail Federation Founded to Represent All BMWED Amtrak Members

Published: Jan 19 2022 1:50PM

Anthony Sessa elected as General Chairman of the new federation.

The United Passenger Rail Federation is the newest federation within the BMWED-IBT, founded today at an historic convention in Newark, N.J. Last month, Amtrak BMWED members voted 81 percent in favor of establishing the UPRF, which brings every Amtrak worker within our Brotherhood into a single system.

Before today, the roughly 2,400 members working for Amtrak were divided into four BMWED system-federations with different dues structures and different general chairpersons and officers, many having never worked for Amtrak or any other passenger railroad. That changes with today’s founding of the UPRF, with Amtrak members now officially united in one system, governed under the same bylaws, united to negotiate and enforce agreements with Amtrak, speaking with one voice to Amtrak management and not split into four.

Noted in an official resolution at today’s convention was the leadership and vision required from BMWED President Freddie N. Simpson in setting the path for Amtrak members to finally come together after four decades of splintered system representation, noting that it would have been easy to have left the broken and ineffectual structure in place upon his imminent retirement.

“For his vision to exercise this authority, President Simpson has been subject to malicious and slanderous personal attack,” the resolution, which passed unanimously, reads. “Some of the regional leadership of the Union view the reorganization of the Federations in behalf of the rank and file of this Union to be a threat to their personal positions.”

Within the language of the resolution is a call for an investigation “of possible violations of the Bylaws and their fiduciary obligations by these Regional officers who have sued the BMWED and its national officers and that further action be taken if it is found that they have violated the bylaws.”

“This is an historic moment in our history, one that finally brings all Amtrak members together as one, strengthens the voice of the rank and file, finally comports to the current rail industry and ends the ridiculousness of multiple general chairpersons on one property,” BMWED Vice President (and former Penn Fed General Chairman) Jed Dodd said. “Amtrak workers should pay for one General Chairperson and not four. Amtrak workers should speak with one voice to management and not four. Correcting this problem, which we did today by formation of the United Passenger Rail Federation, will improve the representation of Amtrak membership in the BMWED.”

Newly elected to four-year terms within the UPRF are:

General Chairperson: Anthony Sessa
District 1 Vice Chairperson: Thomas Wohonka
District 2 Vice Chairperson: Gene Anirina Sr.
District 3 Vice Chairperson: Lydell Owens
District 4 Vice Chairperson: Gene Anirina Jr.
District 5 Vice Chairperson: Leonard Buchanan
District 6 Vice Chairperson: Renato Rufo

Newly-formed Execute Board includes members:

Kurt Caputo, District 1
Alisha Pekarski, District 2
Jim Karnes, District 3
John McAteer, District 4
Steve Stearn, District 5
David O’Connor, District 6
Chad Shorter, At-Large
Vernon Williams, At-Large