On November 15, 2007, my husband Danny and I had the privilege of representing the BLET Auxiliary at the 4th Annual Locomotive Engineers Exposition at Union Station in Washington, D.C. The Expo was hosted by the District of Columbia State Legislative Board (DC SLB). Herb Harris, Chairman of the DC SLB, invited the Auxiliary to participate to help spread the word about our organization’s mission and purpose. We became acquainted with Herb during the Transportation Labor’s Day of Action in May, and have been working together, along with other State Legislative Boards, to promote the rail safety and security bills currently before Congress.

The Expo provides a one-day forum where locomotive engineers and rail labor members can interact, obtaining useful information from the BLET, Amtrak, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), state agencies, and others. This year, approximately 375 were in attendance.

The invitation was too good an opportunity to pass up, and Danny, Legislative Representative for BLET Division 217, accompanied me to show his support for the work the Auxiliary does on behalf of BLET members. Since he was in a very serious accident, we understand better than most, the ordeal faced by those hurt on the job. Because of our experiences, we are in a good position to talk with railroaders, spouses, and their families about the importance of educating ourselves before an incident occurs.

We handed out over 140 packets to fellow railroaders interested in learning more about the Auxiliary and the kind of help we can provide to them in promoting safety issues. Many of those who visited our table thanked the Auxiliary for the work we do, and others were surprised to learn we existed.

The Expo started bright and early at 6:00 a.m. and there were many opportunities to get vital information from the various Exhibitors. In addition to the Auxiliary, David Maynard, an investigator for Willard Moody & Associates discussed on the job injuries and the importance of the Federal Employers Liability Act; Brian Hontz, Deputy Regional Administrator joined his colleagues from the FRA to answer regulatory questions; Mark Robb, President of BRCF, and Ron Enos, Marketing Director for LE&CMPA provided information about the importance of job insurance; and the National Labor College talked with attendees about degrees available for union members. The expo was scheduled to last until 4:00 p.m. but because President Bush had other plans, we wrapped up around 3:00 p.m.

To allow Herb and his Board to do their jobs as hosts, Danny and I helped work the BLET’s table passing out information on issues such as dealing with harassment, event downloads, and vacation for Amtrak workers, just to name a few.

In addition to providing first-hand information on the many issues affecting the rail industry, this year’s expo provided a special exhibit area designated in support of rail labor solidarity. Representatives from other rail labor unions participated to distribute information and talk with their Amtrak members. It was great to get together with representatives from other rail labor unions, especially Leonard Parker, Jr., Legislative Director for the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen, and Tony Padilla, Legislative Director for the Transportation Communications Union.

We had a wonderful time, and would like to express our deepest thanks to Herb Harris for the invitation. Opportunities such as this allow us to be seen and heard, and give all railroad workers the chance to communicate with us, and to encourage more families to get involved.

Working together, we can all make a difference.