National Legislative Office

About the NLR

Vice President and National Legislative Representative John Tolman was elected at the first Quadrennial Convention of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen in June 2006, and was subsequently re-elected in 2010 and 2014.

Since his election to the position of Vice President & National Legislative Representative, Vice President Tolman has accomplished much through more than a thousand visits to Congressional offices along with National Presidents, Vice Presidents, General Chairmen, State Legislative Board Chairmen and members. During his time in office, Vice President Tolman has played an integral part in the passage of the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008, the Passenger Rail Investment & Improvement Act of 2008, Amtrak funding, critical rail security provisions and other quality of life provisions in various pieces of legislation for our members.

Brother Tolman began his railroad career as a hostler in 1971 shortly after graduating from Watertown High School in Watertown, Mass. He advanced to the position of fireman and was promoted to locomotive engineer in 1974. During the course of his railroad career, he has worked for New York Central Railroad, Penn Central Railroad, Conrail, the Boston and Maine Railroad and Amtrak. He earned both a bachelor's degree in Marketing and a Masters degree in Business Administration while working full time on the railroad.

After joining the BLET on March 1, 1980, he held several positions in leadership at the Division level, and in 1992 helped to create, and was subsequently elected Chairman of, the Massachusetts State Legislative Board. He served as Chairman of the Massachusetts State Legislative Board until 1996, when he was hired by the BLE International Division to work as a Special Representative, and was asked to move to Cleveland, Ohio, in order to work on special projects under the direction of the International President. In September 2001, he was asked to serve as the Chief of Staff to the President. In July 2004, he was asked to serve as the Legislative & Political Director and Chief of Staff.

In addition to his work with the BLET and on the railroad, John has long been involved in politics. He was elected as an Alderman in the city of Melrose, Mass., and also served as its Democratic City Chairman for many years. He has been involved in every United States Presidential election since the late 1980s.

Vice President Tolman comes from both a union and railroad family which, like John, has also had significant involvement in politics. John followed in his father's footsteps both in railroad and union work; his father was a conductor and served as a UTU local and General Chairman.

John Tolman and his wife Chris and have three children -- Caroline, Jeff and Johanna.