Archive for the ‘BLET Washington, DC’ Category


Thursday, October 3rd, 2013




Official Statement of James P. Hoffa, Teamsters General President


(Washington, D.C.) – The following is an official statement by Teamsters General President James P. Hoffa:

“In July, I co-wrote a letter to Sen. Harry Reid and Rep. Nancy Pelosi expressing our concerns about specific provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the potential unintended consequences of those provisions. The concerns outlined in that letter have been taken out of context by anti-worker legislators and political organizations in an attempt to bolster their own arguments against the ACA. They are further trying to show that there is some broad movement to derail the ACA from all sides of the political spectrum.

“Though we may have concerns with specific provisions of the ACA, we share the president’s goal of ensuring that every American has affordable access to top-quality health care. It is on this main point that we disagree wholeheartedly with the efforts of extreme right-wing Republicans to gut the ACA. Any suggestion otherwise is simply political posturing.

“I call on Sen. Ted Cruz, Sen. David Vitter and others to cease and desist from misusing our constructive comments in their destructive campaign to hobble the president and the nation.

“Working Americans are fed up with the continued cycle of holding the government and the economy hostage to achieve some empty political victory. Working families are the only people hurt by Republican maneuverings to shut down the government and play Russian roulette with the debt ceiling.”

CWA and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters reached a tentative agreement

Friday, August 2nd, 2013

Aug 2, 2013

Washington, D.C. – CWA and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters reached a tentative agreement covering 6,500 passenger service employees at US Airways. The IBT and CWA together represent the reservations and airport agents.

The tentative agreement provides for wage increases at every step for all passenger service employees and includes a ratification bonus. It also provides critical job security protections, an important issue for workers as the US Airways- American Airlines merger goes forward.

Agents from US Airways and American Airlines have launched a joint campaign to make certain they have a strong union voice at the merged airline.

“Working together, passenger service employees at US Airways have built a strong, united group that will continue to make advances for all agents as the US Airways-American Airlines merger proceeds,” said CWA Chief of Staff Ron Collins.

A ratification vote is being scheduled.

Klobuchar, Vitter Introduce Legislation to Address Captive Shipping and Competition in the Railroad Industry

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

Klobuchar, Vitter Introduce Legislation to Address Captive Shipping and

Promote Fairness and Competition in the Railroad Industry

Bill would require the railroad industry to comply with the same antitrust laws as other industries,

helping to ensure competitive prices that keep costs down for shippers and consumers

March 21, 2013

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and David Vitter (R-LA) today introduced bipartisan legislation to address so-called

“captive shipping” and help promote fairness and competition in the railroad industry. The Railroad Antitrust Enforcement Act removes the

railroad industry’s obsolete exemption from the antitrust laws. Doing so will require the railroad industry play by the same antitrust rules as

other industries, resulting in more competitive pricing that helps keep costs down for shippers and customers. Captive shipping has been a

concern in rural communities across the country, where many businesses and agricultural producers only have access to one rail company

to ship their goods to market. Klobuchar chairs the Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee.

“It’s simply unfair that companies like Blandin Paper Company in Minnesota pay higher prices because railroads

enjoy an exemption from the antitrust laws,” said Klobuchar. “This legislation makes commonsense reforms that

will require the railroad industry play by the same antitrust rules as other industries and will help keep costs

down for businesses, farmers and consumers.”

“Many of Louisiana’s unique businesses rely on efficient shipping using railroads, and our bill will ensure they are

not punished with higher rates, especially those in more rural areas or areas suffering from higher rail

captivity,”Vitter said.

Currently only four Class I railroads provide more than 90 percent of the nation’s rail transportation, resulting in constant increases in rail

rates for companies that rely on freight railroads to get their goods to market. These increased rail transportation costs are ultimately passed

on to consumers and lead to higher prices. A recent study by the Consumer Federation of America estimated that rail rates are $3 billion

higher for captive shippers than they would be if the market was competitive. The excess charges can cost consumers as much as $100 per

year per household.

The Railroad Antitrust Enforcement Act would eliminate the railroad antitrust exemptions that allow freight railroad companies to take

advantage of their market dominance, resulting in higher shipping rates for companies like Blandin Paper Company in Minnesota that rely on

freight railroad to ship their products. Blandin Paper Company has a plant in bothGrand Rapids and in Finland, and pays lessto ship paper

from theirFinland plant to customers in Georgia, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina thanit pays to ship to those same three locations from the

local millin Grand Rapids along a captive rail line.

Klobuchar chairs the Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer rights and has been a leader in pushing for

policies that boost competition and protect businesses and consumer from anti-competitive behavior. Last year, she authored a provision that

was included in the 2012 Farm Bill to authorize a joint study by the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Transportation to examine rural

transportation issues, including captive shipping issues, to help farmers and ranchers move their products more quickly and efficiently. The

provision would require the study to be updated every three years and directs the Secretary of Agriculture to report his recommendations for

improvements in rural transportation policy to the Senate and House Agriculture Committees.


John P. Tolman

Vice President & National Legislative Representative

Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen

Teamsters Rail Conference

25 Louisiana Ave. N.W.

Washington, D.C. 20001


Monday, March 25th, 2013


With the Senate Budget done last week there were several absurd amendments, but one of the most outrageous was;

BOSS IN YOUR BEDROOM: Sens. Fischer (R-NE), Cruz (R-TX), Johanns (R-NE), and Enzi (R-WY) introduced an amendment to put your boss in your bedroom by allowing them to deny you birth control coverage based on their beliefs, not yours. This is just one of numerous anti-Obamacare amendments offered by Republicans. Incidentally, the law turns three tomorrow. 42 GOP senators and 2 Democrats voted for this amendment, Senators Manchin and Pryor.

Yours truly, from comedy central.



Romney enlists Ryan to wage war on railroad workers

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

CLEVELAND, August 14 – Less than three weeks away from formally accepting
his party’s nomination for the Presidency of the United States, former
Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney has chosen Wisconsin Representative and
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, the architect of a plan to gut
the pension rights of railroad workers, as his running mate.

“This pairing represents a nightmare scenario for BLET members and all
railroad workers in America,” BLET National President Dennis R. Pierce
said. “With Romney’s campaign trail promises to slash Amtrak funding and
Ryan’s infamous budget plan that would destroy Railroad Retirement Tier 1
benefits, there could be many dark days ahead from railroaders if this
pair is elected in November.”

Ryan is the author and primary sponsor of the so-called Ryan Budget plan,
which was passed by the House of Representatives earlier this year. The
peril to the pension rights of railroad workers is laid out on page 101 of
House Report No. 112-421 that accompanied the measure, under the heading
of “Conform Railroad Retirement Tier 1 Benefits to Social Security
Benefits,” which states as follows:

“Tier 1 benefits for railroad retirees are supposed to mimic Social
Security benefits, but they are more generous than Social Security in many
ways. This option would conform Tier 1 so that its benefits would equal
those of Social Security, with an estimated savings to taxpayers of $2
billion over 10 years.”

That proposal would have the following disastrous effects for railroad
workers, their spouses and dependents:

 it would eliminate the “60/30” provision that allows railroad employees
to retire with full benefits at 60 years of age with 30 years of service;

 it would eliminate the Railroad Retirement Occupational disability
program for rail workers who can no longer perform their railroad duties
due to disability;

 it would increase the minimum retirement age for railroad employees to
62 years of age with a reduction in benefits;

 it would increase the minimum age for spousal annuities with a reduction
in benefits; and

 it would increase the annual out-of-pocket medical costs paid by
railroad retirees and cause the costs of railroad retiree health insurance
under GA-46000 to soar.

The claim that repealing pension rights for railroad workers would save
the U.S. taxpayers even a single dime, much less “$2 billion over 10
 years” is completely false. All Railroad Retirement benefits – whether
Tier 1 Social Security equivalent benefits or the Tier 2 benefits that
represent the railroad industry’s pension plan – are fully funded through
taxes paid by railroad workers and their employers.

But soon-to-be GOP Vice Presidential candidate Ryan won’t let the facts
get in the way of a good story. In a May 14 letter to a California
constituent, Ryan not only admitted that his budget plan would strip
railroad workers of their unique Railroad Retirement benefits, he also
made the assertion that “Tier 1 Retirement Benefits are… invested in
special non-marketable bonds, just like with Social Security.” This claim,
too, is demonstrably false.

Section 107(c) of the Railroad Retirement and Survivors’ Improvement Act
of 2001 specifically provides for all Tier 1 funds in the Social Security
Equivalent Benefit Account to be transferred to the Railroad Retirement
Investment Trust (RRIT), except for those “needed to pay current benefits
and administrative expenses.” And Section 105 of the Act empowers the RRIT
Trustees to determine how the funds will be invested; the majority of
those investments are in other than non-marketable bonds, which yield a
significantly higher rate of return than investments made by the Social
Security system.

The Ryan Budget also targets the retiree medical benefits of railroad
workers and all Americans. It proposes to eliminate Medicare as we know it
and increase the Medicare eligibility age to 67 with drastically reduced
coverage. Ryan also wants to replace Medicare’s guaranteed benefits with a
voucher system that is not guaranteed to cover the cost of equivalent care
currently provided under Medicare; this change would affect anyone born in
1958 or later.

On March 20, while stumping in Chicago, Romney said “I’m very supportive
of the Ryan budget plan. It’s a bold and exciting effort on his part and
on the part of the Republicans and it’s very much consistent with what I
put out earlier. …I applaud it. It’s an excellent piece of work and very
much needed.” More recently, he vowed that, if he were President he would
have signed the Ryan Budget if it had crossed his desk.

“Saturday’s announcement by the presumptive GOP nominee underscores for
BLET members and all railroad workers and their families what is at stake
in this fall’s national elections,” President Pierce said. “We must
remember in November which candidates support our interests, and which
ones will do us harm.”


The following related resources concerning this issue can be
viewed/downloaded/printed from the BLET website:

 Romney vows in Iowa to cut Amtrak funding as President (November 8,

 Romney Campaign Doubles Down: He ‘Would Have Signed” The Ryan Budget
(August 12, 2012):

 Five Times Mitt Romney Has Embraced The Ryan Budget (August 11, 2012):

 Link to H. Con. Res. 121 (70 pages): 112 eh.pdf

 Link to Resolution, House Report (H.Rep.) No. 112-421 (230 pages;
offending language on Page 101): 112-421.pdf

 Link to House voting record on H. Con. Res. 112:

 Link to Association of American Railroads letter to Rep. Paul Ryan
regarding House Report 112-421:

 Paul Ryan’s May 14, 2012, letter to California constituent:

BLET mobilizes to protect democratic representation elections

Sunday, March 6th, 2011

CLEVELAND, March 4 — The National Division has activated the BLET’s national mobilization network to fight an effort by the Republican leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives to turn the clock back on how representation elections are conducted under the Railway Labor Act by the National Mediation Board (NMB).

For over 80 years NMB rules governing representation elections in the railroad and aviation industries counted workers who did not vote as having voted against representation. These undemocratic rules meant that widespread apathy and/or carrier intimidation almost always spelled defeat for these organizing efforts. Last year the NMB finally changed its rules to make representation elections the same as all other elections in America — the majority of those who vote make the decision whether there will be union representation.

The House Republican leadership is trying to overturn this change and restore the old, undemocratic procedure as a legal requirement through the FAA Reauthorization and Reform Act (H.R. 658). The Democrats are offering an amendment to strip H.R. 658 of the anti-union language, and the BLET is mobilizing in support of that amendment.

The bill is moving to the House floor shortly, and the national mobilization network, in conjunction with the BLET’s State Legislative Board Chairmen, is fighting the proposed change to the NMB procedures contained in H.R. 658, and working for the amendment that would remove the anti-worker language.

All BLET members should call their Member of the House of Representatives today (Members can be identified at plugging in your zip code if you do not already know who your House Member is). Identify yourself as a Teamsters/BLET member who lives in the district and then ask for the staff member who handles National Mediation Board or labor issues. When you get the staff member on the line or reach their voice mail, politely ask that the Member of Congress stand up in support of the democratic rights of railroad and airline workers and vote for the amendment to H.R. 658 that protects the NMB election rules currently in place.

BLET National President Dennis R. Pierce is urging all BLET members to participate in this mobilization. “Hundreds of BLET members and officers have taken to the streets throughout the nation in the past two weeks in support of the rights of public workers, and I joined Teamster General President Hoffa in Columbus on March 1 to fight for Ohio workers,” Pierce said.

“The effort to bring back archaic election rules in H.R. 658 would again sharply tilt the playing field in the carriers’ favor, and is being pushed by politicians beholden to corporations who can make unlimited contributions to these politicians’ election campaigns. It is the federal equivalent of the anti-worker legislation now introduced in Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, Tennessee and many other states, and the entire BLET must unite to defeat the corporate agenda,” Pierce added.

Friday, March 04, 2011

National Legislative Office Web Address

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

The National Legislative Web Adderess

Very nice chart of unemployment rates over the years

Friday, June 25th, 2010

Very nice chart of unemployment rates over the years.  And you can compare your state with the nation.

Current Unemployment Rate

DCCC Announces Second Round of Red to Blue Candidates

Friday, June 25th, 2010


Attached is the DCCC red to blue list.

DCCC Announces Second Round of Red to Blue Candidates


The DCCC announced the next round of candidates that have qualified for the competitive Red to Blue Program.  These candidates earned a spot in the program by surpassing demanding fundraising goals and demonstrating to voters that they will work to create jobs and put the interests of their constituents ahead of the special interests in Washington. 

“These candidates being named to our Red to Blue Program are running strong campaigns and demonstrating their commitment to being independent leaders who will make job creation back home their top priority,” said Chris Van Hollen, Chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “The Red to Blue Program will give these strong candidates the financial and structural edge they need to win in November and become strong advocates in Congress for middle class families back in their districts.”   

Chairman Van Hollen joined DCCC Vice Chair Bruce Braley (IA) and Red to Blue co-chairs Allyson Schwartz (PA), Patrick Murphy (PA), and Donna Edwards (MD) to announce the next 11 candidates who qualified for the Red to Blue Program:

These are the new additions to the Red to Blue List.  In bold are Teamster endorsed candidates.

Chad Causey (AR-01)

Tarryl Clark (MN-06)

Joyce Elliott (AR-02)

Colleen Hanabusa (HI-01)

Denny Heck (WA-03)

Julie Lassa (WI-07)

Gary McDowell (MI-01)

Mike Oliverio (WV-01)

Tommy Sowers (MO-08)

Manan Trivedi (PA-06)

Trent Van Haaften (IN-08)

As a reminder, these are the candidates already on RTB.  In bold is Teamster endorsed.

Ami Bera (CA-3)

Paula Brooks (OH-12)

John Callahan (PA-15)

John Carney in (DE-AL)

Suzan DelBene (WA-8)

Raj Goyle (KS-4)

Roy Herron (TN-8)

Bryan Lentz (PA-7)

Rob Miller (SC-2)

Steve Pougnet (CA-45)

Dan Seals (IL-10)

Tom White (NE-2)

Lori Edwards (Fl-12)

Joe Garcia (FL-25)

Stephene Moore (KS-3)

Any thoughts or ideas from you Brothers would be helpful.



John P. Tolman

Vice President and National Legislative Representative

Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen

Teamsters Rail Conference

25 Louisiana Ave. NW

Washington, D.C. 20001

Office: (202) 624-8776

Cell: (216) 272-1246

Fax: (202) 624-3086

Brown: U.S. Should Fund High-Speed Rail

Saturday, June 19th, 2010

June 7, 2010
By Rep. Corrine Brown
Special to Roll Call

The expansion of passenger, high-speed and freight rail is critical to the economic growth of the United States. As chairman of the Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials, my goal is to have high-speed, intercity passenger and commuter rail lines connecting nationwide to enhance and improve our systems of transportation.

A robust passenger rail system in America will go a long way toward solving some of our nation’s economic, energy, environmental and transportation challenges, as well as create thousands of jobs. These benefits, however, do not come without a price tag, and experience in other countries makes it clear that a successful high-speed rail system will require consistent, committed funding.

On June 21, 2009, the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee unveiled a draft bill to reauthorize the surface transportation program. The bill included a proposal for $50 billion over six years for the development of high-speed rail.

It has become clear that Americans need transportation alternatives. Congestion is crippling our major cities; even the infrastructure in our small towns is aging at an alarming rate. In 2007, traffic congestion cost $87.2 billion, including 4.2 billion hours of delays and 2.8 billion gallons of wasted fuel in our nation’s metropolitan areas. The average driver in 28 metropolitan regions experienced 40 or more hours of delay per year. Twenty-seven years ago, only Los Angeles experienced that level of congestion. Families are losing what precious little time they have together because of time spent in traffic going to and from work, picking up the kids at day care or running the endless errands that seem a part of life in today’s society.

We cannot just focus on building more roads. We have to find broader solutions to address our transportation problems. That is why we must develop high-speed rail in the U.S. and build on our intercity passenger rail systems such as Amtrak.

It is no secret that the U.S. lags woefully behind the rest of the world when it comes to developing high-speed rail. Japan, the nation that unveiled the world’s first high-speed rail system in 1964, has a 1,350-mile network and is already at work building a line that will connect Tokyo with Osaka at speeds of more than 300 mph.

France, which holds the world speed record for steel wheels on steel rail – 357 mph – used its high-speed rail system to pull entire regions from isolation, ignite growth and remake quiet towns into thriving tourist destinations. After inaugurating its high-speed rail system in 1981, France developed a 1,180-mile network and plans to add 1,500 miles. The system carries a remarkable 100 million passengers annually.

Spain changed the demographics of entire regions with its high-speed rail line from Madrid to Seville, which opened in 1992. The line is so successful that more people travel between the two cities by rail than by car and airplane combined. Spain plans to spend more than $100 billion over the next decade to build Europe’s largest high-speed rail network. The project will put nearly everyone in Spain within 30 miles of a train station and will create tens of thousands of jobs.

Earlier this year, China announced a plan to expand its high-speed rail system to a network of more than 16,000 miles by 2020. In this year alone, China has poured more than $50 billion into this system.

A few years ago, that type of financial commitment would have been difficult to secure in the U.S.; instead of providing Amtrak with the funds that it needed to get back on track, the Bush administration called for Amtrak’s bankruptcy.

But with the enactment of the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act (Pub.L. 110-432) in the 110th Congress and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Pub.L. 111-5) in this Congress, America is on the verge of a new rail renaissance – a transformative moment in the history of transportation.

Just last month, I led a Whistle Stop Rail Tour to promote high-speed and intercity passenger rail in the U.S. We started in Washington, D.C., traveled to upstate New York and ended up in Chicago, where we conducted a major hearing on rail issues.

All along the way we saw stimulus dollars at work to improve our transportation infrastructure and create jobs for the local workforce. And in upstate New York specifically, rail manufacturing could very well replace many of the good jobs that were sent overseas.

Everywhere we went there was very strong support for Amtrak service and high-speed rail. The only complaints I heard were that there wasn’t enough money for rail and that it wasn’t coming fast enough.

Clearly, we need to get serious about funding high-speed rail. With just $1 billion budgeted for fiscal 2011, we need to find a dedicated revenue source so that states, operators and manufacturers aren’t afraid to make investments in infrastructure and manpower.

As we begin to develop and reauthorize the next surface transportation bill, it is critical that the need for additional rail capacity be addressed. There is no one solution that will solve rail congestion. New and creative ideas from government and the private sector must be utilized to increase and improve freight rail capacity.

Rep. Corrine Brown (D-Fla.) is chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials.