By Dennis R. Pierce
BLET National President
INDEPENDENCE, Ohio, August 30 — Unions are an important part of the fabric of our nation and their importance is acknowledged each year on Labor Day. Unionized workers built this great country, including members of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen.
Unions improved the lives of all workers by bringing about such advancements as the Railroad Retirement System, Social Security, the Federal Employers Liability Act, workers’ compensation, paid vacations and holidays, health insurance, pensions, fair treatment for all, overtime pay, higher wages, and many other things that the average American now takes for granted.
Millions of individuals can testify to the advantages of being in a union. They can tell about the higher wages and health benefits they receive as a result of being in a union. According to a recent Gallup poll, 64% of Americans approve of labor unions, surpassing 60% for the third consecutive year. This is up 16 percentage points from its low point in 2009. Also, the current 64% reading is one of the highest union approval ratings Gallup has recorded over the past 50 years.
It is not surprising to me that workers understand they need unions because they cannot trust their employers to look out for their best interest. Far too often, employers put profits before people and the welfare of their employees suffers greatly as a result. This is true in the railroad industry, especially given its recent push to implement Precision Scheduled Railroading.
It is an honor and a privilege for me to serve the membership of North America’s oldest labor union. On this Labor Day, I ask that you all join me in honoring those who came before us. Let us not forget the founding members of our Brotherhood and the struggles they endured, which laid the groundwork for the lifestyle we enjoy.
And thanks to the ongoing work of the Brotherhood today, BLET members can be proud of the significant role they play in the American economy. Let’s observe this Labor Day by recommitting ourselves to join together to preserve and improve upon what we have for the next generation of locomotive engineers and trainmen, and by doing so honor the legacy of our founding members.
I wish each of you a happy, healthy and safe Labor Day.
Friday, August 30, 2019