CLEVELAND, June 19 — The BLET held a State Legislative Board Chairmen’s training workshop in Washington, D.C. from June 3 through 7, 2012. Twenty-four State Legislative Board Chairmen, Vice Chairman and Secretary-Treasurers from around the country attended the workshop, which covered issues such as the BLET-PAC, the 2012 elections and the duties of State Legislative Board Chairmen.
The workshop included three and a half days of classroom training, followed by one day of meetings on Capitol Hill with both House and Senate delegations after the workshop’s conclusion.
BLET National President Dennis R. Pierce addressed the group during the classroom training, providing an update on the activities of the BLET National Division and teaching a session on the BLET Bylaws.
In addition, First Vice President E. Lee Pruitt and National Secretary-Treasurer William C. Walpert addressed the group and provided updates on various aspects of the National Division’s operations. NST Walpert also taught during several other sections of the course.
Vice President & National Legislative Representative John P. Tolman participated in and led most of the sessions, including a session on the 2012 elections. He encouraged all of those in attendance to volunteer to work for candidates for office in their free time. He also moderated a roundtable discussion on growing the BLET-PAC.
Several guest speakers also addressed the group, including: Federal Railroad Administration Chief Counsel Melissa Porter; IBT Director of Field and Political Action Christy Bailey; IBT Federal Political Director Nicole Brener-Schmitz; and IBT State Political and Legislative Director Dan Reilly.
Various portions of the workshop covered: legislative and regulatory research, which included a hands-on research project; a presentation regarding the BLET national mobilization network; leadership skills; Department of Labor reports; online audits; and communications.
The following also made presentations to the group: BLET State Legislative Board Chairmen Terry Briggs (Texas), Tim Smith (California) and Craig Gilchrist (Montana); and National Division staff members Ken Kroeger, Kent Confer, Vince Verna, Gail Carson and Kathleen Policy.
On June 7, the group met with over 150 members of their Congressional delegations. These meetings focused on the Railroad Retirement issues raised in the Ryan budget and the possible delay in the implementation of Positive Train Control currently being discussed as a part of the Surface Transportation Reauthorization in the Conference Committee. The BLET representatives educated the members of the House and Senate about the BLET’s position on these issues.
“At their root, both of these issues are part of a larger war on workers,” President Pierce said. “One is a blatant attack on largely unionized railroad workers and another one is an example of corporate greed being placed before worker and community safety. The timing of this class couldn’t have been better as it allowed our members to speak with many Representatives and Senators at a crucial time. We need to continue to ensure the BLET’s voice is heard on both of these issues.”
Vice President Tolman thanked everyone involved in making the workshop a success.
“The attendees were a mix of newer State Chairmen and those with more experience,” he said. “Throughout the week, this group was able to share ideas, experiences and knowledge. It was truly great to see that level of collaboration and teamwork happening, and I thank all of those who participated.”