Railroad Unions in the United States
As with any industry, the people who work to get the job done on the railroads are sometimes at risk of losing their jobs or not being a fair wage for their work.
This is where railway unions come in. There are many railway unions that specialize in helping and protecting certain sectors of the industry. Some unions represent locomotive engineers, while others specialize in working with other areas of employment such as signalmen or freight car repairers. Many rail unions have members from all trade areas of the rail industry and they represent and protect them all equally.
Two of the more prominent unions include:
Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen
Many of the railway unions in North America have been in place for well over a century. The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers (BLE) was one of the oldest labor unions in the country before merging with one of the most powerful transportation unions in the world - the International Brotherhood of Teamsters in 2004 and becoming the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET). The union has as its mandate, to protect the interests, rights and safety of its members through solidarity, representation and education. The union represents locomotive engineers, brakemen, conductors, switchmen and other train service employees. With a membership of over 59,000 members, the union is a major transportation labor union in North America.
Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes
This union, which is a division of the Rail Conference of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, is mainly concerned with representing the train employees who work to keep the tracks working as smoothly as possible. The workers who are part of this union are in charge of making sure that all rail systems are in peak condition in order to allow for the safe operation of the trains on the lines. Track maintainers, switchmen and other positions that deal chiefly with the rails and the ground that the rails are on, are protected under this union's banner.
The tireless work of the union over the years has seen salaries for trackmen rise to $23.92 an hour in 2010. As with the BLET, this union is also affiliated with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.
Rail Union Resources:
- Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes (BMWED)
- Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes (BLET)
- Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen (BRS)
- United Transportation Union
- Transportation Trades Department of the AFL-CIO