CLEVELAND, May 3 — Illinois Governor Pat Quinn has signed a proclamation declaring May 8, 2013, as “Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen Day” throughout Illinois in honor of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen’s 150th anniversary. Governor Quinn joined three additional state governments (California, Massachusetts, and Ohio) and two cities (Detroit and Marshall, Mich.) in recognizing North America’s oldest railroad labor union.
Governor Quinn’s proclamation recognizes the Brotherhood’s founding on May 8, 1863, and praises all active and retired BLET members who “have devoted their lives to the rail industry and provided a great public service to our communities and economy.”
A similar resolution adopted by the California State Assembly also thanks all BLET members. “The men and women who comprise BLET are highly trained professionals through whose professionalism, perseverance, and dedication the railroad industry — the lifeblood of the American economy — runs smoothly and safely 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and 365 days of the year.” The resolution congratulates the BLET on 150 years of stellar service to its members and conveys best wishes for continued success. The Honorable John A. Perez, Speaker of the Assembly, and the Honorable Darrell Steinberg, President pro Tempore of the California State Senate, both signed the resolution.
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts conferred a Governor’s Citation upon the Brotherhood in recognition of its 150th anniversary. Governor Deval L. Patrick and Lieutenant Governor Timothy P. Murray both signed the citation.
The Ohio House of Representatives issued a congratulatory letter recognizing the BLET’s 150th anniversary. Ohio Representative Robert F. Hagan, Ohio District 58, sponsored the letter. Hagan is a proud locomotive engineer and member of BLET Division 757.
“The oldest labor union in the nation, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen has been a tireless advocate for fair employee representation, and today, it has twenty-seven divisions in the State of Ohio. Throughout its long and distinguished history, the union has contributed in innumerable ways to ensure safe and healthy working conditions and to gain benefits and compensation which reflect the skills, commitment and efforts of the workers it serves.” William G. Batchelder, Speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives, signed the letter, along with Rep. Hagan.
In addition to these four states, two cities with significant historical ties to the Brotherhood’s founding — Marshall, Mich., and Detroit, Mich. — have issued proclamations recognizing the Organization’s 150th anniversary.
James Dyer, the Mayor of Marshall, signed a proclamation declaring May 5, 2013, through May 11, 2013, as “Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen Week” in the city. The proclamation also recognizes the members and leaders of the BLET for maintaining a distinguished record of service for over 150 years.
Dave Bing, the Mayor of Detroit, signed a proclamation recognizing May 8, 2013, as “Locomotive Engineer and Trainmen Day” in the city. The proclamation recognizes the BLET’s 150th anniversary and thanks the Brotherhood’s leaders and members for their record of great service to the industry and the nation.
In 1863, locomotive engineers working for the Michigan Central Railroad met in Marshall, Mich., and agreed to form a protective society to improve their pay, working conditions, and standing in society. The men met in secret in members’ homes for fear of reprisal from railroad management. Thus, Marshall is honored as the birthplace of the Brotherhood, and several handsome monuments grace the township signifying its status as such. On May 8, 1863, delegates representing locomotive engineers from various railroads met in Detroit and signed documents formally establishing the Brotherhood of the Footboard, the predecessor organization to today’s BLET. So while Marshall is recognized as the birthplace of the Brotherhood, the city of Detroit is recognized as the city where the Brotherhood was founded.
BLET National President Dennis R. Pierce thanked the cities and states for honoring the Brotherhood’s historic milestone. He also thanked all BLET members involved in the collective effort to secure passage of these resolutions and proclamations. The National Division will announce additional state and city proclamations as they become available.
The Brotherhood is returning to Detroit next week for its 150th Anniversary Celebration. A series of meetings and events will culminate with a celebratory banquet the evening of Wednesday, May 8. More information is available here: www.ble-t.org/blet150.
These proclamations and resolutions are available for download from the BLET National Division website: