The mid-term elections are over and the makeup of Congress has changed dramatically, and probably not in a way that will be beneficial for America’s working families. I think one of the more detrimental changes that will impact us, as BLET families, is the loss of Representative Jim Oberstar in Minnesota, who conceded by a narrow margin of about 4000 votes to his opponent Chip Cravaack. Oberstar, who served 18 terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, had become known as one of its most powerful members and has been a great friend and champion to those of us to whom the rail industry is so important. His loss means he will no longer serve as Transportation Committee Chairman, a position he has held since 2007. That position will, in all likelihood, be filled by Representative John Mica (R-FL), who recently told The Associated Press that he believes high-speed trains are a good idea, but he doesn’t agree with the projects selected by the Transportation Department for funding.

As BLET President Dennis Pierce stated in a recent newsflash, we will continue to remain on track with our legislative agenda. We have friends on both side of the aisle and, as President Pierce pointed out, “What matters most is who will work with us on our agenda and help us get each of members safely home every day.” That being said, in the weeks and months ahead, we could possibly have some critical legislative issues arise that will require us to act immediately, with as little as 24 hours’ notice,, so please stay tuned for any legislative alerts coming your way from the National BLET Office, the BLET DC Office, or from me via the e-mail address I use for e-mail alerts, bletauxiliarylr@comcast.netIf you wish to receive those alerts and are not already on my e-mail address list, please contact me at to request that you be added to the list.

Speaking of elections, the BLET Auxiliary has been asked to support the “get out the vote” effort in the upcoming elections for the BLET National Division officers. Although we do not involve ourselves in any type of political campaign on any level, we are encouraging our members to please do what you can to help get BLET members in your area to promptly return their ballots in this election. The ballots are being mailed out soon and will include a stamped, self-addressed envelope. Whichever way the BLET member in your home chooses to vote, please make sure that the ballot that comes to your address gets filled out and returned in a timely fashion. Some of our Auxiliary members have already started making individual calls to the members in their area to remind them to vote. Let’s show our union that we are responsible, caring union families!