|ONLINE VERSION||NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2000|
|APRIL - JUNE|
"If the carriers had put a detailed proposal on the table early, there could have been more progress," said Joel Myron, BMWE Director of Strategic Coordination and Research, in reporter Frank Wilner's "Rail Intelligence" column for Traffic World on April 17. "The carriers want to halt disruptions but make little effort to resolve disputes promptly. If the carriers refuse to sit down immediately to concentrated bargaining, the parties should be released" to use economic incentives such as a strike. Otherwise, the carriers benefit as outlined in the so-called "Schmiege Letter." On June 21, 1991, Bob Schmiege, then Chairman of the Chicago & North Western Railway wrote, "the Railway Labor Act's specific charter is to avoid strikes, and it is remarkably effective at preventing unions from achieving the legal right to strike. Unless we believe that our companies have the leverage to win traditional management-employee tests of economic strength, our interests are best served by a system which avoids those tests. Our only real leverage is delaying a wage settlement." (Bold and italics added.)
Just before Congress adjourned on April 14 for a Spring recess, some 50 BMWE system officers and state legislative directors spent a full week of intensive lobbying of Congressmen on the railroad retirement issue. BMWE members continued to lobby their Congressmen in their home districts during the recess with the message that Congress must not pass railroad retirement legislation without the consensus of all the parties involved.
April 5 — At Consent Decree Hearing Judge Approves Amtrak Settlement of Race Discrimination Lawsuit for $16 Million
April 6 — Awards Ceremony, Rowlesburg, WV
BMWE members of the Allied Eastern Federation from the Central Region of the Allegheny Division were honored at a cookout celebration held at Rowlesburg Community Park on April 6 in recognition of their working 3,000 days injury free through November 29, 1999. Each member was presented with a certificate of recognition, a letter of recognition, a jacket and an operation lifesaver lapel pin. The honorees were: P. E. Barker, R. O. Burns, George Carrico, T. L. Donk, D. R. Erwin, D. C. Harrison, M. B. King, Lonnie Moats, E. E. Moreland, J. A. Moreland, H. E. Rhodes, R. P. Riggs, G. T. Shahan, J. J. Sisler, Rick Stallings, D. R. Wagner, R. C. Walters, and Rick Welch. Also shown are J. D. Morris, Roadmaster, and R. D. Friend, BMWE Safety Liaison. Photo by T. B. Rainey, Chairman of the Safety Committee.
April 12 — No PNTR for China
More than 10,000 working men and women lobbied their members of Congress to demand "No Blank Check for China!" and urged Congress to refuse to grant China permanent Normal Trade Relations (NTR) status, discarding annual reviews of that country's trade and human rights practices. Photos are of participants, including Roger Bobby, Bob Osler and Karl Knutsen from the BMWE, rallying outside the Capitol prior to hitting the halls of Congress.
April 17 — BMWE Member Runs Boston Marathon
Brad S. Delamater, 33, a 15-year BMWE member from Local Lodge 1632, Northeastern System Federation, was featured in several Pennsylvania newspapers before and after he ran in the 104th Boston Marathon on April 17 this year. Reprinted here is "Running is Half the Battle" written by Lisa Robinson of The Daily/Sunday Review and "Local Duo Tackles Boston Marathon" written by Wes Shillings of The Rocket-Courier. Delamater started working on the railroad right out of high school, following his father Donald, a MofW foreman who retired from Conrail about four years ago, and three older brothers, Paul, Donnie and Todd. Delamater and his wife Ann have two children, Jessica, 12, and Devin, 6.
Running is Half the Battle
They call running the loneliest sport on earth.
Brad Delamater and Joe McGee of Terrytown both defy and relate to that concept each day when they lace up their running shoes to pick out a course for themselves and other days when they find time to train and strive for their goals together.
Recently both men reached at least one of those goals—qualifying for the 104th Boston Marathon, which will be held in April 2000. It is the first time either of them has succeeded in reaching this goal.
McGee qualified at the Steamtown Marathon in Scranton on Oct. 10, at a time of 3 hours, 2 minutes, 5 seconds, he said. He finished 81st out of 1,637.
When Delamater didn't qualify in Steamtown, he made up his mind that he was going to qualify at the Philadelphia Marathon on Nov. 20, and he did, with a time of 3 hours, 2 minutes, 22 seconds, finishing 158th out of 5,000 runners.
He finished 13 minutes faster in Philadelphia than he did in Steamtown, which may seem minor to the average couch potato, but is monumental to the traditional runner.
Delamater reached his goal by speed training, or training at the pace he wanted to run and not the pace he might normally, with McGee, he said. Previously he trained by himself, running whenever he found the time and wherever he happened to be, he added.
Delamater, who is originally from Towanda but move to the Terrytown area 12 years ago, works full time as a diesel mechanic for the Canadian Pacific Railroad, and on any given day he might find himself running anywhere on the east coast from Sunbury, Pa., to Montreal, he said.
"I work on the rails so I never run the same place twice," Delamater said. "Some mornings I get up at 4 a.m. Sometimes I run at 6 at night. I don't have a set time but I get one in every day. Rain, sleet, snow, it makes no difference."
Delamater runs approximately 6 to 9 miles every day and does 300 sit-ups a day, he said.
What he enjoys most is running to raise money for cancer during such runs as the March of Dimes run every year in Towanda, he added.
Running is not something Delamater has been doing all of his life, but something he picked up when he stopped smoking three years ago, he said.
"I started running about 3 ½ years ago and 80 some pounds ago," Delamater laughed. "I just decided one day, ‘I'm going to quit smoking two packs a day and go running.' When I first started I just decided I would go for a walk. Then I decided I didn't have time for that so I ran for some of the walk and that is how the running started."
McGee, who lives in Terrytown with his wife, Karen, and children, Austen, 9, and Joanna, 4, has been running since high school, and he is proud of Delamater's dedication and determination, he said. Both he and Delamater grew up in Towanda and attended Towanda High School. McGee ran track and cross country in high school; Delamater never did, they remember.
Delamater credits McGee for his qualifying for the marathon and said he couldn't have done it without him. McGee is simply proud of his friend's accomplishments in the last month.
"Brad has really come a long way," McGee said. "I'm really proud of him. He has really turned things around."
McGee's first marathon and first attempt to qualify for the Boston Marathon was in 1996, at the Wine Glass Marathon in Corning, N.Y., he said.
He fell 19 seconds short of his goal and became discouraged, he
added. He didn't stop running but he didn't try qualifying again until
this year. ...
"I am so glad he qualified because it is really going to help us," McGee said. "We have the same goals, we both want to break 3 hours in the marathon and if we run together I know we can do it."
The Boston Marathon will be held April 17.
McGee and Delamater both say they will be there to run those 26.2 miles—no matter what.
"I'll go if I have to crawl," Delamater said.
Local Duo Tackles Boston Marathon
Heartbreak Hill Wasn't So Bad, But It Was No Walk in the Park
When you are accustomed to running the rugged terrain of the Endless Mountains of Pennsylvania, the 80-foot increase in elevation known as "Heartbreak Hill" isn't such a big deal, say two local runners who conquered the prestigious Boston Marathon last month. The real problem is that it's about 21 miles out—the point where the body and the mind are likely to rebel, even shut down.
"We were running along and at one point, around the mile 22 marker, realized we had already passed Heartbreak Hill," said Joe McGee of himself and his running partner, Brad Delamater.
Now they were 22 miles out at the Boston Marathon with Heartbreak Hill behind them. Their runs up Welles Mountain and the steep Lake Wesauking road had prepared them well. The biggest struggle would come in the final three miles as the cold, wintry weather and gusting winds, which plummeted the wind chill under freezing, would take their toll and both would be thankful just to finish the race on this Monday—Patriots Day—in early April.
Both Brad and Joe have run in three marathons leading up to last month's run in Boston. Joe, who lives in Terry Township, qualified first, at Steamtown in the fall, with a time a few seconds over 3:02—almost 11 minutes under the time needed to qualify in his age group. Brad, who says he blew it in Steamtown, had to go to Philadelphia to qualify—and he too finished close to the three-hour mark. That's a goal most marathoners strive for, and Brad and Joe, whose effort at Boston automatically qualified them to return to the big race next year, are setting their sights on running Boston in under three hours next year.
Brad was very disappointed in his showing at Steamtown, noting that he went out too easy and put himself in a hole. He made up for it in Philadelphia, posting a qualifying time close to his friend's. "He did it only five weeks after Steamtown," says an admiring Joe. "It's supposed to take you four weeks just to get your legs back after a marathon."
Joe has been running most of his 35 years. Brad, who is two years younger, took up running just four years ago when his weight ballooned to 221 pounds on his five-feet-five-inch frame and he made a commitment to get in shape. He lost more than a third of his body weight—80 pounds—to get in the condition he's in today. In retrospect, Joe seemed destined to run the Boston Marathon some day. For Brad, such a prospect would have seemed unlikely when he took his first halting steps as a jogger at the age of 29.
"I just started walking and it got so it took too much time to walk."
Somewhere along the line, Brad got very serious about running and when he started running with Joe, the latter immediately spotted his potential. Brad, who spends a lot of time during the week away from his Wyalusing home working with railroad diesel equipment, runs every night no matter where he is. On weekends, he trains with Joe, who has taught him all about technique, pace and the proper training methods.
"I owe most of it to Joe," Brad says. "I wouldn't be here if it weren't for him."
Joe says it is Brad who deserves the credit.
"He's got a strong upper body and a lot of heart," says Joe, a standout distance runner starting in high school in Towanda, noting that running isn't all about the legs. "He's mentally tough. He listens to what you tell him and does it. I've worked with a lot of runners and he's the most coachable.
The group of guys they run with—Gary Ferguson, Jim Schools, Matt Tavani and Chad Butcher—decided last year that they'd try to qualify for the Boston Marathon, and they all went down to Steamtown, where Joe was the only one to qualify. While Joe was trying to decide whether he wanted to go to Boston alone, without one of his running mates, Brad went to Philadelphia a few weeks later and solved the dilemma.
Not only did Brad beat the odds by running in marathons five weeks apart, he ran the 26.2 miles 13 minutes faster than he did in Steamtown and just 17 seconds off from Joe's Steamtown time. Not only would they be going to Boston together, but since runners are planned and numbered according to age and times, they would be running together.
Both runners were well up toward the starting line, thanks to their strong qualification times—if you consider being in the group with numbers starting with 3,000 near the front.
Since there were almost 15,000 runners starting behind them in the field of 17,813, the second largest field in history, that wasn't such a bad place to start.
It only took them 40 seconds to reach the starting line after the gun sounded. They had heard horror stories of it taking 10 to 15 minutes to reach that point. Although Joe's qualifying time was only 17 seconds faster than Brad's, there were actually 44 runners between their numbers.
Joe and Brad were together for those first 22 miles. Then the conditions caught up with Joe and he fell back. They lost each other. Even though Brad finished only a matter of minutes ahead, they never saw each other until they got home the next day.
"My upper body went first," says Joe. "I realized I was in trouble when I couldn't use my hands to drink or open a pack of PowerGel."
Brad experienced some of the same physical breakdown and remembers, most of all, the cold and hoping to see his father so he would have a coat to warm him up. Joe says he didn't stop shaking until about three hours after the race. After the finish, they keep you moving and you literally have to walk another mile, with those who needed attention shepherded off to aid stations. Each looked for the other among the thousands of runners and spectators, but had to leave Boston without making contact.
"I was worried about Joe," said Brad, who was never certain Joe was allright until they returned home.
The road to Boston is only the beginning for this pair of thirty-something runners. Distance runners tend to hit their prime in their thirties, and, though they've already qualified for next year's Boston Marathon, they are looking at Steamtown again this fall to get their qualifying times down and get them even closer to the starting line. Another of their goals is getting at least one more of their running buddies to qualify and take a contingent of Wyalusing area runners to Boston on the second Monday of April, 2001.
They did see another local runner, Scott Sick, shortly before the race, but for the most part they were surrounded by a sea of strangers. "You couldn't get off the course if you wanted to," said Joe describing the throng lining the route.
They marveled at the encouragement and support offered up by spectators lining the race route—from the shapely co-eds of Wellesley to people in the various neighborhoods. "The Boston crowd, they know their runners and they'll pick something out about you to cheer them on."
In Joe's case, it was a shirt with his alma mater, Towanda, on it. "Go Towanda!" they'd yell as he negotiated the course.
Both of their wives are very supportive of their efforts as runners. Joe's wife, Karen, is running herself and ran with them on a sponsored 2.6-mile Friendship Run in Boston the day before the marathon. Brad's wife, Ann, will often accompany him by car on long training runs, meeting him at certain points along the way with water and encouragement.
"It's real easy to get to where you can compete on this level," says Joe, whose definition of "real easy" might differ from that of the average person. "The tough part is to stay and maintain."
Both feel the $75 entry fee at Boston is well worth it. There is so much stuff given away—all kinds of running related equipment and training aids, including all kinds of power bars—you don't really lose out monetarily.
"They know what they are doing," says Brad of the race organizers.
Runners are asked to show up and get their numbers hours before the start of the race, and that means killing time for as long as five hours. Joe and Brad were up at 4:30 a.m. and with the other runners not long after that. Brad was the 1,642nd to cross the finish line, which almost halved his qualifying number of 3,243. Joe, despite falling back, hung in there to finish at 2,256. It meant conquering not only the 26-plus mile course, but also 13 mile-an-hour headwinds that sent the wind chill to about 28 degrees.
At the front of the pack in the field of 17,813, in the closest finish ever, Kenyan Elijah Lagat made it 10 straight victories in a row for the Kenyans with a time of 2:09.47—some two-and-a-half minutes off the record set by another Kenyan, Cosomos Ndati, in 1994. The first woman finisher, Catherine Ndereba, also a Kenyan, clocked a 2:26.11.
April 19 — Joint Crafts Meeting with Oberstar
Union officers from the Duluth, Missabe & Iron Range, Duluth, Winnipeg & Pacific, and Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroads met with Rep. Jim Oberstar (D-MN), Ranking Minority Member of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee on April 19 at his home office in Minnesota to discuss their view on the early retirement issue. From the BMWE were Roger Bobby, Alan Caple, Bob Gordon, Karl Knutsen, Frank Malec, Mike Nagle, Mark Schneider, Paul Swanson, Mark Thudin; the BLE, Kieth Stauber; the Boilermakers, Bob Shovein; the IBEW, Greg Arras, Gary Rock, Dan Vanneste; the TCU, Doug Laurent, Mick Ward; the TCU/Carmen, Lloyd Either, Bill Stauty; and the UTU, Gary Pearson.
April 28 — Workers' Memorial Day
As dozens of ceremonies were held across the country to honor those who have lost their lives on the job, a beautiful and serene cemetery in the woods of Funk's Grove, Illinois was the setting of a special tribute on April 28 to Irish rail workers who lost their lives in the 1850s and were buried in two mass graves there.
Although the exact circumstances of the Funk's Grove deaths are unclear, this situation is unique because these workers were buried in a cemetery and not in forgotten track side graves. Local oral tradition and cemetery records marked their burial, though not the individual names. The cemetery records simply note "Irish Workers" over two large plots.
Traditional Irish music was played by Irish Piper Kevin Henry as guests assembled to hear speakers, including Hon. Eamon Hickey, Consul General of the Republic of Ireland, in the lovely, old chapel on the property. Following the speakers, guests formed a procession which was led by bagpipes and costumed flag and banner carriers down an aisle lined by small Irish and American flags to the site of a six-foot Celtic cross marking the end of the two large plots in the cemetery. At 4:30 p.m. as the monument dedication ended, all Amtrak locomotives in the nation sounded a salute to these Irish railroad workers.
Central Illinois Irish-Americans and labor unions, including the BMWE, led by the McLean County Historical Society, raised nearly $20,000 to erect the Celtic cross at the grave site.
Following the Funk's Grove tribute on April 28, rail union members stopped at the nearby abandoned Railway Express Agency building.
The Society also published a 76-page book entitled Irish Immigrants in McLean County, Illinoiswhich features almost 20 pages about Irish workers on the railroad. This book is available for purchase from the McLean County Museum of History, 200 North Main Street, Bloomington, Illinois 61701 for $12.00 which includes tax and shipping and handling.
Beginning here and continued in the next several issues of the JOURNAL, is a section of the book written by Mike Matejka, Building a Railroad: 1850s Irish Immigrant Labor in Central Illinois. Matejka is a member of the Laborers' Union and Director of the North Central Illinois Laborers' and Employers' Cooperation and Trust. Long an award-winning writer, Matejka recently completed a Master's Degree in Labor Studies at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. This section, as well as the cover of the book, was beautifully illustrated by Bill Yund. Two samples of his work appear on this page.
Building a Railroad: 1850s Irish Immigrant Labor in Central Illinois
A light car, drawn by a single horse,
(Late 1860s description of the construction of the
The shovel's scrape and the spike hammer's metallic ring marked the railroad builder's life. Although the railroad was the 19th century's most important and newest technology, its construction methods were centuries old and dependent upon a key ingredient—the back breaking work and sweat of a man. In the rural cemetery at Funks Grove, Illinois, are two mass burials of Irish laborers from the early 1850s, probable casualties of rail construction. Uncovering the specific conditions of the workers buried at Funks Grove are difficult, but much is known about the brutal conditions these immigrant workers faced and the infectious diseases that challenged their already precarious position.
Building a railroad network through rural Illinois in the 1850s meant incredible logistical efforts. Streams and rivers needed bridging, wooden ties were cut, sawn and hewed, iron rails, spikes, tie plates, shovel, picks and mauls were imported from eastern cities or across the ocean from English foundries, spending months in water passage before reaching the rail head, where they were assembled by work crews.
And in sparsely settled Illinois, the other critical component needing importation was labor. The farms and small towns did not support a ready labor pool—that also came across the ocean. Germans fled repression following the failed revolts of 1848; many of these individuals were skilled tradesmen or educated professionals, and thus had marketable skills. Scandinavian immigrants were already known in Illinois, but their biggest exodus would come after the Civil War. Famine ravaged Irish families became the key foundation for pre-Civil War railroad and canal building in America. Seventy-five cents to $1.50 a day was the standard wage rate, minus room, board and other expenses.
"Railroad Fever" inflamed 1850s Illinois communities, feeding the need for imported laborers. In 1850 there were 110 miles of Illinois railroad. Ten years later there were 2,867 miles, making Illinois the nation's most railroad intensive state, establishing Chicago as the nation's rail center. What was then the world's largest construction project, the Illinois Central Railroad, laid 700 miles of north-south track in two separate lines across the state. The Great Western (Wabash) built from Danville to Jacksonville. The Chicago and Rock Island was connecting those two cities, while the Burlington and Quincy reached from Chicago to Iowa and Missouri. The Michigan Central was connecting Chicago with New York.
The river town of Alton, its prosperity linked to St. Louis and the Mississippi, Illinois and Missouri rivers, saw increased opportunity in a direct link across the open prairies to Chicago, tapping farmlands and communities that were not on river systems and building an all-weather link between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi. Incorporated in 1847, the Alton and Sangamon Railroad (A&S) built first to Springfield and eventually to Bloomington and onto Chicago.
Communities eagerly awaited the new lines, sure their presence would guarantee economic prosperity and access to wider markets. As the Alton and Sangamon completed its initial stage, from the river city to the state's capitol, Springfield eagerly projected its coming wealth.
Looking at the recently completed 1850 census for agricultural data, Springfield's Daily Journalquoted the American Railroad Journal in meticulous detail, enumerating the produce and cattle raised within 15 miles of the new line. Totaling the projected freight, mail and passenger traffic, minus the construction and operating costs, the Journal predicted the new line would have an initial annual profit of 18 percent, or $188,640. By projecting the new line north into Bloomington and a connection with the Illinois Central, Springfield would make its course along an important corridor of commerce:
We may set it down as a fixed fact that the Central road will be completed, at an early date. Bloomington, a town about sixty miles north of Springfield, is to be a point in this road. From the latter place, active measurements are in progress for the construction of a railroad to the former. ...A line neatly drawn from Chicago to St. Louis would very nearly pass through the three towns of Alton, Springfield and Bloomington. ...The Alton and Sangamon must, therefore, for aught we can see, forever constitute the lower and most profitable part of the main trunk line between Lake Michigan and Springfield, Alton and St. Louis.
This railroad construction boom fueled the need for workers, and the largest construction project, the Illinois Central, advertised in port cities New Orleans and New York, offering $1.25 a day and a transportation rate of $4.75 to procure workers. By the winter of 1852-53 6,000 to 8,000 laborers were on the Illinois Central's payroll, with thousands of them recruited in eastern ports. Germans made up a substantial number, but the greatest number were Irish.
To Be Continued.
When the parties met on May 24, the NCCC again wanted to discuss work rules but the BMWE insisted that a counterproposal to its January 27 comprehensive proposal be provided. The railroads eventually made an economic proposal on May 25 in addition to the work rule changes it had thus far proposed. The carriers counterproposal was extremely low, involving a choice of a 2% per year wage increase or stock options instead of a wage increase. Also, the 2% wage increase wouldn't even start until 12 months after the agreement was ratified. At the session on May 26, the railroads handed BMWE President Fleming a copy of the complaint they had filed in Texas that day seeking to force the BMWE to give 10 days' notice prior to "engaging in strikes, work stoppages, picketing, or other forms of self-help in connection with disputes over collective bargaining agreements ..."
May, 1926 — Railway Labor Act Enacted
May 8 — A Railroader Passed Away
He was getting gray and paunchy, but by no means was he old.
He described how bitter cold it can be, changing a broken rail at
Though sometimes to a new hire, they thought his tales were a joke,
He was mourned by quite a many, not just his children and his wife.
When a company official dies, the Railway News always states
Is the greatest contribution to our company, and the welfare of the
It's easy for the company to forget them, they're a number, not a
If we cannot give him honor, while he's here to hear the praise
Gene Kitch, at a Safety Picnic Dinner in Augusta, Kansas in 1995.
This moving poem was apparently written by one of the many railroaders who attended the funeral of Carroll Eugene Kitch who died on May 8, 2000 after suffering a heart attack on his job as an Assistant Roadmaster for the Burlington Northern Santa Fe System Federation. Gene Kitch, age 50, joined the BMWE on November 9, 1971 and always proudly continued to pay full dues as a member of Local Lodge 2405, Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe System Federation, after his promotion to Roadmaster six years ago.
Gene's wife Linda wants "all of his friends to know that he loved you all, there are so many I can't even begin to remember names, but please know that he would be very pleased you came to his funeral."
Linda also wrote that "Gene would want all of his friends at BNSF to know that he tried to change some of the ideas that are tearing the railroad apart at this time. You can't make a safe place to work by destroying morale and the morale of the men is low, very low. An unhappy work place will never be a safe place. We talk safety all the time and then set traps to try and prove that the employees aren't doing their jobs. This wasn't Gene's way and if he found a problem he always talked to that person first. I think because he came up from the bottom and had walked in their shoes, he really understood. I promised him that I'd write this note for him and that maybe what he couldn't change in life might be changed in death. He has talked about this to me a million times at home and wondered where all of this would end and that there had to be a better way."
In addition to his wife of 32 years, Gene Kitch is survived by sons Paul, 32, and Robert, 28, daughter Tammy Reynolds, 30, and nine grandchildren, aged 1 to 11.
May 18 & 19 — International Association Meeting
At the bargaining session on June 8, the BMWE offered a further downward revision of its earlier proposal. The BMWE had cut its original Section 6 proposal several times and given projections of inflation at 3.6% this year instead of 2.5%, believed this proposal was within the range necessary to reach agreement. The carriers rejected the proposal claiming it was too high and refused to make a counterproposal. When the parties met again on June 28, the railroads modified their proposal substantially, making it even worse than their already unacceptable proposal. This time the NCCC proposed to give the railroads the right to eliminate all BMWE production work and contract that work out to third parties. Further, the NCCC stated that all they would bargain about in that proposal was the severance payments to BMWE members thrown out of work if this proposal became effective. On June 30 President Fleming wrote the NMB and asked the Board to terminate the mediation case and make a proffer of arbitration to the parties because the parties are deadlocked.
June 1, 1902 — Effective Date of First Agreement signed by the BMWE with a Railway Company, the Canadian Pacific
June 10, 1901 — Maine Central Railroad Target of First Authorized BMWE Strike
June 12-21 — Union Pacific Coal Route Maintenance Blitz
Approximately 250 BMWE members carried out a maintenance blitz on Union Pacific's "Coal Route" through the South Morrill and Powder River sub-divisions in western Nebraska on June 12 through 21. It was reported that on the second day of the blitz UP MofW workers had surpassed the Burlington Northern Santa Fe record of 7,709 ties in 20 hours by laying 7,750 ties in 13 hours. A summary of the 10-day work blitz projected there were 23,100 concrete ties and 5,500 wood ties laid, 32.14 miles of new rail, 2.81 miles of curve rail, 8 miles of undercutting, 155 miles of surfacing and 1,254 joints welded. Twenty from the dozens of photos taken on the day BMWE visited the worksite are shown here.
June 14 — Clinton Appoints TWU Officer to ARC
President Clinton appointed Charles F. Moneypenny, International and Legislative Representative of the 120,000 member Transport Workers Union to the Amtrak Reform Council on June 14. Moneypenny's primary responsibilities are with the TWU's collective bargaining and government affairs efforts.
Moneypenny will represent transportation labor on the ARC which is charged with evaluating the performance of the Amtrak Reform Board and providing recommendations to help Amtrak achieve enhanced operating and financial performance. He brings a crucial Amtrak employee voice to the ARC at a time when transportation labor is leading efforts to expose the agenda of the ARC majority members who continue to pursue risky proposals to break up and privatize the national Amtrak system.
It is still the hope of the AFL-CIO Transportation Trades Department and its affiliates including the BMWE, to block the ARC's funding and stop this body from wasting taxpayer dollars to carry out its anti-Amtrak agenda.
In May transportation labor won an important victory when the Fiscal Year 2001 transportation appropriations bill passed with an amendment by Reps. Robert Andrews (D-NJ) and Bob Ney (R- OH) to cut funding for ARC by 55 percent from $980,000 to $450,000. "This vote will hopefully send a strong message, reflecting TTD executive committee policy, to the Senate that the House opposes the funding sought by the ARC majority to carry out its hostile, anti-Amtrak agenda," said Ed Wytkind, TTD Executive Director.
June 18 —Dedication at Storybook Land
BMWE members of Local Lodge 2825 in Aberdeen, South Dakota were filled with pride when their former president, Joe Piechowski, drove in the golden spike symbolically opening the track they built in Storybook Land in Wylie Park. Piechowski then climbed in the replica of an 1800s steam engine and drove the first lap on the 1.2 mile track.
It is very fitting that a photo taken of Piechowski driving that first lap is used in all the advertisements for the Park because he represents the 56 men who donated some 800 hours of labor worth over $50,000. Although the majority were members of Lodge 2825, "guys from Forsyth, Montana to Superior, Wisconsin helped out," said Tim Even, the project coordinator.
Built during the summer of 1999, the BMWE volunteers "had a great time," says Even. "We did everything by hand. We marched and chanted as we carried in the 30 foot chunks of 20 pound rail. It was mostly curves, but I have to admit, it did line pretty easy. Everyone came away with a positive feeling."
The Aberdeen Sertoma Club, which spearheaded the fund-raising effort for the $450,000 project, praised the volunteers who built the track. To show their appreciation, an area of the depot moved to the park from Rudolph, South Dakota will be devoted to a permanent display by Lodge 2825. Photos along with a logbook kept by the Park Board which carefully records each volunteer's name and hours of work donated will be a prominent part of that permanent display.
(The little guy in the photo is Brandon, grandson of Lodge 2825 Secretary-Treasurer Russell Brandt. Lunch time was sponsored by Ingebritson & Associates, a BMWE-designated FELA law firm.)
June 24 & 25 — United Brotherhood of the Rainbow, Orlando, Florida
The United Brotherhood of the Rainbow held its sixth annual conference on June 24 and 25 at the Wyndham Orlando Resort in Orlando, Florida. The UBR was created to act as a booster for the BMWE and its primary purpose is to insure that all BMWE members are treated fairly and equally. The UBR motto is — It is not so much what your union can do for you, but what can you do for your union to make it better for all BMWE members. The guest speaker was Joel Myron, BMWE Director of Strategic Coordination and Research, who filled in for President Mac A. Fleming who was unable to attend as planned. Myron presented a detailed overview of the 2000 bargaining round as well as the status of the early retirement struggle. Newly elected officers were: Frank Coleman, president; Clarence Former, secretary-treasurer; George Collie, recording secretary; Anthony Rochon, vice president; Tim McCall, advisor/vice president; Ron Kelly, finance chairman; Floyd Maynard, chaplain.
June 27, 1934 — Railroad Retirement Act Signed by President Roosevelt
On May 6, 1935, the United States Supreme Court declared the Railroad Retirement Act of 1934 unconstitutional. On August 29, 1935, President Roosevelt signed the Railroad Retirement Act of 1935 and the Carriers' Taxing Act of 1935. On February 18, 1937 an agreement was signed by the railroad brotherhoods and the railroads in the United States leading to the Railroad Retirement Act of 1937. The Act of 1937 began the tradition of no amendments to the Act without the consensus of the rail unions and the railroad.