October 2018 Legislative Update


I began my first week as the new BLET Auxiliary Second Vice President and Legislative Representative by attending and speaking at the Wisconsin State Legislative Board’s Fall 2019 Team Building Meeting.

Local Division Representatives from across the state were in attendance, along with state officers.  Most surprisingly, National BLET President Dennis Pierce and Vice President John Tolman were also in attendance.

Only three days out from closing out a very demanding Quadrennial Convention in Las Vegas, and President Pierce and Vice President Tolman make time in crazy schedules to come to “The Sticks” of central Wisconsin, as far off the Mainstream Map as can be.  Why?  Because there’s never been a more pivotal mid-term election for Labor than 2018.  Like having the perks of your railroad job or your spouse’s railroad job?  Me too.  For all the hassle, the insane schedule, the danger, and the complete unpredictability, the Rail Family Lifestyle does have its benefits:

  • Good Health Insurance
  • Mandatory Hours of Service and Held Away Pay
  • Comfortable Retirement Plan
  • Paid hotel and cab for employees away from home terminal
  • Seniority that affords the employee with more years invested the right to hold a more desirable job closer to home over a newer hire

If you’ve taken all these perks for granted, realize this:  A UNION GOT THEM FOR YOU, AND IF YOUR UNION DIES, SO WILL THESE BENEFITS.

President Pierce reminded the room of the impact of the recent Supreme Court Janus Decision, in which the court ruled that public sector employees cannot be compelled to pay Union Dues.  Make no doubt about it:  this decision is a potential death knell for ALL unions and, in essence, the benefits they have procured.

Why is this so?  Because unions are still legally compelled to represent all workers, even those who do not pay dues.  It doesn’t take an accountant to figure out how providing services to people who choose not to pay quickly cripples and then bankrupts any establishment.  Public Sector Unions have taken a likely fatal blow because of the Janus Decision.

The Janus Decision is one step away from a Federal Right To Work Law that would eliminate Private Sector Unions as well.  We are not far off from the day when we will have no voice and no choice other than to work for whatever is offered.


What can you do?  Make sure to vote and VOTE BLUE, especially in the upcoming midterms.  If ever there was an election on which labor rights hinge, this is it.  Many social issues, from immigration to gun control to health care to abortion, are used to muddy the voting waters.  Understand that we have strong opinions about those issues ONLY AFTER we have a secure job that provides a standard of living on workable terms.