BLET Auxiliary News by mmcsx

VIEWS: 142 PAGES: 12

									                   BLET Auxiliary News
                                       Working to bring about safer working conditions for Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen,
                                       educate spouses, and enhance the lifestyles of railroad employees and their families.

 Volume 1, Number 9                                                                                                          Winter 2008
          Becky Schneider, President   Sereena Hogan, Vice President/National Legislative Representative     Anita Caruso, Secretary
                              Helen Brand, Treasurer  Gina Forman, 1st Vice President

    BLET and Auxiliary Members Congregate in Montgomery, AL; Huron, OH;
    San Luis Obispo, CA; and St. Louis, MO, for 2008 Regional Conventions
                                                                        presentation, thanks to Ken Kroeger who once again saved the
                                                                        day by getting the equipment to work.

                                                                        The annual SMA golf tournament took place on Wednesday
                                                                        and we thank Convention Chair Jason Popwell for selling
                                                                        mulligans to benefit the Auxiliary Scholarship Fund. Non-golfers
                                                                        were treated to a trolley tour of Montgomery, which departed
                                                                        from the depot across the street from the hotel. The first
                                                                        leg was to acquaint everyone with the sites of Montgomery,
                                                                        followed by a tour of Old Alabama Town, and lunch in one of
                                                                        the historic houses. The afternoon was left open for individuals
                                                                        to return to the trolley to see sites they deemed bore further
                                                                        investigation, or back to the hotel for some R&R. Our evening
                                                                        concluded with the two-time Southern League Champion
                                                                        Montgomery Biscuits baseball game, complete with hot dogs
                                                                        and hamburgers. It was neat to watch the trains as they
                                                                        frequently passed behind the scoreboard.
Bettye Dollar, Lynn Popwell and Frankie Milford made
announcements and presented awards at the SMA Banquet.
                                                                        Our last day included a shopping trip and lunch for the ladies
Southeastern Meeting Association (SMA)                                  and a Distributed Power Class for BLET members. We all
The 81st Southeastern Meeting Association was held this                 enjoyed our respective activities, and parted ways following
year in Montgomery, Alabama, June 15 – 19, 2008. We were                the banquet after another year of fun, friendship, and
grateful that we got a break from the heat and humidity the             fellowship. We’ll see y’all in Gatlinburg next year!
deep south is known for; the weather turned out relatively
mild, making all of the meetings and activities all the more
fun. Following the opening ceremonies, the Auxiliary and their
spouses were treated to lunch and provided information on the
Flexible Spending Account from Vice President Dennis Pierce.
Information on the legislative activities of NARVRE dealing with
existing inequities of Railroad Retirement were provided to
members by Tom Dwyer, the newly elected National President
of NARVRE. Following business, we had a great deal of fun
making beaded lanyards for our name tags, enjoying the
company of one another, and admiring each other’s creativity.
The first evening was topped off with a trip to the Victory Land
Dog Track and Casino.

During the BLET educational workshops on Tuesday, the
Auxiliary held our open business meeting preceded by a                    Members and prospective members attending the Auxiliary
Tea. Our meeting was well attended and included interesting                    Meeting at the SMA in Montgomery, Alabama.
exchanges. We ended with a “History of the GIA” PowerPoint                                                              continued on page 6
    From the President:
                           As excited as I was in the weeks leading up to our historic presidential election, I have
                           to admit I am glad it is now behind us. Even though El Paso did not suffer the nonstop
                           barrage of negative presidential ads as did other parts of the country I visited, we had our
                           share of nasty local races. It is too bad that some campaigns found it necessary to resort
                           to nasty, unproductive ads, rather than putting forth their strengths and agendas.

                            While some of you may not have voted for our President-elect Obama, I feel like our nation
                            has turned a corner. It’s not because he is half African American, but in part because he
                            will bring the back to America the statesman qualities we have been lacking for too long.
                            We have had eight years of anti-labor forces, and the time has arrived for change needed
                            to address issues of middle-class, working America, not just corporate interests. We need
    to follow John McCain’s lead in his pledge to support the new President for the good of our great country. How-
    ever, it is up to each of us to pay attention to the actions of our elected representatives to make sure they do
    what is best for our members and all of America regardless of political affiliation. Thanks to all who participated
    in the process and, hopefully, working together we will see a brighter future for everyone.

    As always, the Auxiliary is staying busy recruiting new members and new Auxiliaries in order to strengthen our
    ability to support and assist our BLET Brothers and Sisters. I have several trips to report on since my last up-
    date. Following the Southwest Convention in St. Louis, I was invited by the Iowa State Legislative Board to their
    quadrennial meeting to make a presentation to the member Legislative Representatives and other officers in at-
    tendance about how local Auxiliaries can help individual areas throughout the state. Rachel Grimes, the Auxiliary’s
    Iowa State Legislative Representative, gave a presentation on some of the issues she has worked on with Chair-
    man Jeff Kurtz and other members of the Iowa State Legislative Board, and her continued commitment.

    In October, the Auxiliary was invited to make presentations at informational meetings held by two Ohio Divisions:
    Cleveland’s Division 3, and Columbus’s Division 34. Both meetings generated much support for the formation
    of local Auxiliaries, and I was encouraged by the enthusiasm of not only the spouses, but the division members
    themselves. While Cleveland was trying to restart the Auxiliary that once existed there, Columbus is looking
    toward forming a more permanent entity from a successful group of spouses active in issues affecting railroad-
    ers in the area. We welcome any and all who wish to be part of our efforts in support of the BLET. Along those
    lines, Gina Forman, our 1st Vice President and National Outreach Coordinator is working with a group in Garrett,
    Indiana, to get an Auxiliary started there. For those of you who have joined and expressed an interest in getting
    an auxiliary started in your area, please continue your efforts. Local auxiliaries are a very important asset in deal-
    ing with the carriers’ unfair practices and in providing support to both spouses and BLET members whenever
    and wherever it is needed. As always, I am available to you if you need advice or help, as are all of our national
    officers. Please do not hesitate to call on us.

    Our deepest gratitude goes to BLET Divisions 3 and 34, the Iowa State Legislative Board, and the National Divi-
    sion for their support in helping to defray expenses incurred by the Auxiliary in our efforts
    to recruit new members and new auxiliaries. Without their help, we would not have the
    means to continue to grow our organization.

    With Thanksgiving just around the corner, and Christmas close behind, on behalf of
    Larry and I, we wish the best of everything, and peace and prosperity to you and your
    families throughout this blessed season. For those who are unable to be with their loved
    ones because of work, please stay safe and return home to them. Lastly, for those who
    answered the call of duty and are also unable to be home for Christmas, may God keep
    you safe.

    In Sisterhood,
                                                                                                  Chips off the old block?
    Becky Schneider, National President, BLET Auxiliary
                                                                                                  Becky’s daughter Maricel
    515 W. Redd Road                                                                              introduced 8-week-old
    El Paso, Texas 79932                                                                          Dahlia to the political process
    Ph: 915-581-1373                                                                              by taking her to the voting
    e-mail:                                                               booth on November 4.

Sewing for Scholarships
        — Auxiliary 235 issues a challenge to other auxiliaries
By Debbie Keele, President, Auxiliary
235, Osawatomie, KS

Helen Gould Auxiliary No. 235 met in
September for a “sewing party” to make
items for the BLET Auxiliary scholarship
raffle at the SWCM in St. Louis. We have
a talented group who know their way
around sewing machines and sergers,
so we decided to make children’s pillow
cases. Kids love to have their own
special pillow cases and it was fun to see
the variety of fabrics our members came
up with to make 13 colorful pillow cases.
We had great fun spending the afternoon
together, and the chocolate cake wasn’t
too bad either! We decided to sell the
pillow cases rather than give them as         Auxiliary 235 Members (left to right): Sally Zook, Debbie Keele,
raffle prizes, and we were able to make        Debbie Davis, Kathy Trimmer, and Joyce Bumgarner
$20 for each one.
                                                     Aux. 235 Members Sally Zook, Debbie Keele, Debbie Davis,
I extend a personal thank you to Rachael                       Kathy Trimmer, and Joyce Bumgarner.
Grimes, the BLET Auxiliary Chairperson
for the SWCM, as well as Anastacia           the SWCM for their generosity. They are       monetary donation or donating an item
Penrod, both members of Auxiliary No. 6      always so eager and willing to support        to the raffle at their regional convention
from Boone, Iowa. Rachael and Anastacia      our children in the form of scholarships.     meeting. In recent years, seven to
worked very hard communicating to            In addition to the support of the Auxiliary   ten $1000 scholarships have been
the auxiliaries in the southwest region,     Scholarship Fund, the convention was          granted to the children of BLET Auxiliary
asking for help with donations for the       able to award $40,000 in scholarships         members.
raffle, and organizing the tables and         to 39 children this year. What an
selling raffle tickets and items for the      accomplishment! Thank you to the              Next year’s SWCM will be held in Kansas
Scholarship Fund. They were successful       officers of the SWCM and to everyone           City, Missouri, September 13-17. If your
in raising more than $3000 at the            who makes this possible.                      auxiliary is able to help with contributions
convention.                                                                                or items for the raffle, please let me
                                             Our auxiliary would like to challenge         know. You can contact me at 28420 Old
Thank you also to all the attendees at       other auxiliaries to consider making a        K.C. Road, Paola, Kansas, 66071.

    Happy Holidays from the BLET Auxiliary Executive Council
     to all our Sisters and Brothers in the Railroad Community!

                     C UMULATIVE T RAUMA I NJURIES —
                          G ROWING A WARENESS                        OF    I MPACT           ON   R AILROAD W ORKERS
                                                                  by Richard N. Shapiro, BLET Designated Legal Counsel

There is a growing awareness in the            occupational exposures, such as walking
railroad injury field of occupational           on oversized/large ballast rock day in
disease claims known as Cumulative             and day out at the railroad. Workers
Trauma Syndrome (CTS). CTS can affect          with decades of experience worked
many parts of the body, including the          many years dismounting and mounting
back, neck, hip, knees, ankles, and feet.      equipment, which was permissible for
This type of injuries/disease process          many years. Between the mounting and
is also called Repetitive Stress Injury        dismounting repetitive injuries, as well as
(RSI). The types of injuries that affect the   the constant walking on railroad ballast
carpal tunnel of the arm also fall within      rock that is oversized and not small, pea-
this classification in general terms. CTS       sized ballast rock; cumulative trauma
is an injury/syndrome that is caused by        injuries have occurred to the ankles,
hundreds, if not thousands, of repetitive      knees, and hips with such constant
traumas to a particular body part, that        exposures.
over some significant period of time rise
to the level of a serious medical injury.      Did the railroads know of cumu-
Imagine a baseball pitcher wearing             lative trauma injuries and when?               their assigned defense lawyers are
out his throwing arm faster than other         Our firm is based in the eastern U.S.           denying these claims are real. What
players on the team by repetitive micro-       and we stumbled upon a 1993 internal           hypocrisy!
injury to the throwing arm, or imagine         memorandum that the law department
a worker on an assembly line doing the         of one of the large railroads had turned       How to Prove Railroad
same task hundreds of times a day,             over in litigation, which stated:              Negligence or Responsibility
week after week, month after month.                                                           When a railroad worker approaches
This describes cumulative trauma stress        “Cumulative trauma/repetitive motion           our firm and asks if we will represent
injuries.                                      injuries are showing a significant              him or her for a CTS injury, the
                                               increase in reported cases in industry         obvious question becomes whether
Who suffers CTS?                               according to OSHA. We, of course, have         the cumulative trauma was caused by
As designated railroad injury lawyers          seen these injuries for many years at          long term exposure at the railroad, or
representing the BLET, we have                 [railroad name omitted] taking the form        by some other outside cause. This is
investigated and represented not               of cervical, thoracic, and lumbosacral         a common defense that the railroads
only engineers or conductors, but              spine injuries. In addition, increasing        often make, so we must investigate the
car repair workers and maintenance             carpal tunnel syndrome cases,                  case for the BLET member to determine
of way workers who have suffered               unspecified disorders of the joints, and        whether it has merit. First, we are
CTS injuries of one form or another.           rotator cuff injuries, to name a few, are      interested in the length of the railroad
It has become well known that track            seen with regularity. Ergonomic hazards        worker’s exposure to either large ballast
maintenance workers have been                  relating to these disorders are caused         rock on a daily basis (with regard to the
suffering high rates of arm and wrist or       by physical stressors and workplace            lower extremity injuries), or with regard
carpal tunnel cumulative trauma injuries       conditions that pose a risk of injury to       to an engineer who claims that back or
from using hand tools on a repetitive          our workers. They result from repetitive       neck injuries are caused by the repetitive
basis. Moreover, track maintenance             and forceful motions, vibration, and           rocking motion or slack action of
workers have developed back and                awkward postures….”                            engines, we must also look at the length
neck problems from repetitive heavy            My gosh, I could not write a better            of the exposure and the particulars
lifting or heavy duty tasks. Car repair        description of how cumulative trauma           of the case to determine whether a
workers, conductors, and engineers             injuries arise than the railroad’s own         railroad can be proven to be negligent or
have also suffered from various types of       lawyers 15 years ago! There can be             careless in causing the CTS injury to the
cumulative trauma injuries, not limited to     no question that the major railroads           worker. All cases involve different facts
the arms, back, or neck, but including         understood how widespread CTS injuries         and analysis.
CTS injuries from different types of           were among railroad workers, but now                            continued on page 5
                         Tidbits from YOUR Secretary, Anita J. Caruso
Auxiliary News                              from Manteca, California, join the           Fisher, although I occasionally wrote and
Auxiliary Secretaries, you will be          auxiliary. I hope to be able to meet         phoned her. I was lucky enough to win
receiving your yearly packets in January.   each of you at one of the regional           some of her handmade note cards while
Please give me a call if you have any       conventions in 2009.                         attending the SWCM in Little Rock and
questions and I will be happy to assist                                                  subsequently inquired about purchasing
you in getting these forms filled out        This N That….                                more. She was a long time member of
promptly.                                   I want to congratulate Darla Fent, one of    our organization and will be missed by
                                            my Auxiliary #12 sisters, on the birth of    her sisters in Generosity Auxiliary.
Member-at-Large Update                      her first grandchild, Dillon Mathew Reed,
Members-at-Large, you will be receiving     who was born on June 14, weighing in         During this solemn and festive season,
“Notice of Dues” forms in January. Please   at 8 pounds. Mother and child are doing      let us remember the families who have
be prompt in paying your 2009 dues.         fine and the family is still on cloud nine!   lost loved ones and the less fortunate.
                                                                                         I know we all do a lot of complaining
A big welcome goes out to our newest        I am very sorry to announce that Dean        about the railroad lifestyle, but we are all
Members-at-Large! We are happy              Fisher of Auxiliary #37 in Little Rock,      very fortunate to have found each other
to have Donna Thomas Brown from             Arkansas, passed away recently. I never      through this unique line of work. Have a
Yakima, Washington, and Susie Burrola       had the pleasure of meeting Sister           wonderful and blessed end of the year.

C UMULATIVE T RAUMA I NJURIES -                                   CONTINUED FROM PAGE               4
However, one type of expert that            a railroad worker with a particularly        of the CTS injury’s connection to
is often used in CTS cases is an            long career had taken over 90 million        railroad work.
expert in the field of ergonomics.           footsteps on railroad ballast rock,
An ergonomist has specialized               and that large-sized ballast rock            This is an extremely tricky
training in studying industrial work        causes torsion of the lower leg in           determination that a skilled railroad
tasks, and how the tasks affect the         relation to the upper leg making a           injury attorney must evaluate after
workers and their health, stated fairly     grinding action at the knee joint. He        interviewing the railroad worker and
simply. While an ergonomist is not          specifically pointed out that carrying a      having reviewed all of the pertinent
a medical physician, an ergonomist          load while doing this activity was even      medical information and data.
is an expert specialized in looking         more punishing on the knee joint.            Because this determination is so
at and/or inspecting a certain set                                                       difficult, yet critical, it is important
of work tasks to determine whether          Statute of Limitations in                    that a railroad worker who believes
they are known to cause repetitive or       CTS Cases                                    that the CTS injuries may be
cumulative injuries. In some cases,         For claims against railroad worker           connected to railroad work consult
we will arrange for an ergonomist           employers, the Federal Employee              with designated legal counsel as
to conduct an actual site inspection        Liability Act (FELA) is the exclusive        early as possible, even if only on a
of the various tasks involved in the        injury remedy. The FELA provides             confidential attorney-client basis to
worker’s duties. Cumulative trauma          for a 3-year statute of limitations          get input on the issue and this key
injuries can strike the hip, as well as     from when a railroad worker knew             determination.
the back, and it is fairly well known       or should have known that his or her
to the railroads that repetitive heavy      CTS injuries were related to his or          Richard N. Shapiro is a BLET
labor will take its toll on the body and    her railroad employment. In other            designated counsel based in
lead to CTS injuries.                       words, the 3-year statute of limitation      Virginia. He and his firm, Shapiro,
                                            arises not from when a CTS injury            Cooper, Lewis & Appleton, practice
One expert, who has been called to          manifests itself, but from the time          throughout the eastern United
testify in CTS cases involving ballast      measured by when the railroad                States. Website: www.hsinjurylaw.
and knee or hip injury, calculated that     worker knew or should have known             com , 1(800) 752-0042.

2008 Regional Conventions                                         The convention closed with the traditional banquet on Thursday
continued from front cover                                        night, at which time Janet and Jim Louis announced that they
                                                                  had raised $1000 for the Auxiliary Scholarship Fund. We are
Eastern Union Meeting Association (EUMA)
                                                                  grateful to the Louises for their generous $500 donation
EUMA attendees congregated at the Sawmill Creek Resort in
                                                                  in memory of Jim’s mother Leona, and for their continued
Huron, Ohio, for their 70th Annual Convention, July 6-11. The
                                                                  fundraising efforts, and also extend a big thank you to Rodney
“Empty Chair Ceremony” to remember our BLET brothers and
                                                                  Cutlip, Tim DeBois, and their team of volunteers from Toledo
sisters who lost their lives in the line of duty was a moving
                                                                  Division 385 for putting together a great convention!
moment at the Opening Ceremonies. We were also honored to
be addressed by Ohio Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur, a good           International Western Convention
ally to railroad employees. Monday evening’s bus trip to Toledo   This year’s IWC Chairperson Mike Galvani welcomed us all to
for a Mudhens baseball game was a welcome reprieve from a         San Luis Obispo, California (commonly referred to as SLO)
busy day of meetings.                                             August 17-21. SLO’s proximity to numerous small coastal
                                                                  cities, rolling hillsides, and an abundance of wineries made
                                                                  it an ideal place to visit, and we actually got some business
                                                                  done too! Those who gathered for the Auxiliary meeting
                                                                  after lunch on the day of Opening Ceremonies, enjoyed the
                                                                  icebreaker, which included getting to know one another
                                                                  and showing off our artistic talents. We had a full agenda
                                                                  for the meeting, which included a presentation by the law
                                                                  firm of Hildebrand, McLeod & Nelson, Inc., entitled “Critical
                                                                  Things Every Railroad Spouse Should Know,” a report on
                                                                  “Harrassment and Intimidation by Railroad Officials,” by the
                                                                  law firm of Yaeger, Jungbauer & Barczak, PLC, an overview
                                                                  of the Healthcare Flexible Spending Account by National BLET
                                                                  Special Rep Jim Bradford, as well as presentations about
                                                                  insurance benefits by Les Laswell and John Casteel.

BRCF President Mark Robb and his daughter Laura at the
EUMA dinner banquet in Huron, Ohio. Thank you, Mark, and
all of BRCF and NARF for your continued support of the
BLET and the Auxiliary!

Fourteen separate workshops were presented at the EUMA,
starting on Sunday afternoon and continuing again on Tuesday
and Thursday. On Wednesday, most attendees enjoyed the
famous Cedar Point Amusement Park, also known as “the
roller coaster capital of the world.”

                                                                  Becky Schneider and Sereena Hogan spent many fun-filled
                                                                  hours at the Auxiliary table selling raffle tickets and greeting
                                                                  convention attendees at the IWC in San Luis Obispo,

                                                                  The next day, while the training classes were going on,
                                                                  Auxiliary members welcomed all who were available to a Wine
                                                                  Education Class presented by the owner of a local wine shop
                                                                  and bar. We had fun learning about and tasting different wines
                                                                  from around the central California Coast.

                                                                  That evening, we were treated to a great audience interactive
                                                                  magical comedy act at the closing banquet, which was customized
Jim Louis, Mark Kinney, and Rodney Cutlip at the 2008 EUMA        with some great humor about the BLET.
Awards Banquet.
                                                                 The convention’s overflow crowds were a bright spot for a year
                                                                 that saw record gas prices and a struggling economy.

                                                                 The first night, the Convention hosted a Texas Hold ‘em Poker
                                                                 Tournament, raising $1000 for the SWCM Scholarship fund,
                                                                 and through the sale of “bonus” chips, $320 for the Pendarvis
                                                                 family. Monday morning started bright and early, at least for
                                                                 the golfers, who enjoyed a round at the beautiful Far Oaks
                                                                 Golf Club. Many thanks for the generosity of the golfers as
                                                                 the Auxiliary was able to raise $1120 for the Scholarship
                                                                 Fund through the sale of mulligans. Non-golfers enjoyed a
                                                                 trip to the famous St. Louis zoo, or had the opportunity to
                                                                 attend a Radiation Training Class. The first official event of the

Auxiliary 591 President Terri Fleming and her husband Chuck
at the IWC in San Luis Obispo, with UP Western Lines General
Chairman Bill Hannah providing antlers in the background.

The Hurst Castle tour on Thursday was a big hit and, for those
who could stay, the deep sea fishing trip on Friday was also a
fun time.

Our fundraising efforts were a huge success and we thank
everyone who donated gifts for the raffle and purchased
raffle tickets, as well those who purchased mulligans at the
golf tournament. We are eternally grateful to IWC Secretary-
Treasurer Jim Lance who not only does a great job as the
emcee at the opening ceremonies and the closing banquet,
but is a great auctioneer and goes above and beyond to help
raise funds for our Scholarship Program.
                                                                 MAL Jackie Monroe and Engineer Gidget Blankman clown
Southwestern Convention Meeting                                  around at the Banquet at the SWCM in St. Louis.
On the banks of the mighty Mississippi River and under the
shadow of the St. Louis arch, the Hilton Ballpark Hotel marked   convention was the welcome reception with build-your-own
the site for this year’s 73rd Southwestern Convention Meeting.   nachos allowing everyone to reacquaint and catch up prior to
                                                                 the serious business of the convention.

                                                                 Tuesday’s opening ceremonies were well attended by BLET
                                                                 and Auxiliary members, and many new faces. Guest speakers
                                                                 included Missouri legislators who stressed the importance of
                                                                 Union members and the working men and women of America.
                                                                 Following the meeting, BLET Designated Legal Counsel (DLC)
                                                                 made a presentation about FELA law and current issues that
                                                                 could profoundly affect BLET members.The afternoon allowed
                                                                 BLET members to attend their closed meeting, while the
                                                                 Auxiliary held its open business meeting. BLET DLC addressed
                                                                 the spouses and Auxiliary members in attendance, and new
                                                                 information regarding Railroad Retirement and Health and
                                                                 Welfare changes were presented. President Becky Schneider
                                                                 educated those new to the organization as to what we do
                                                                 and why we do it, and the importance of being a member.
                                                                 Auxiliary members were updated as to the current goings
National Treasurer Helen Brand (left) and Husband Charlie
pose with National Secretary Anita Caruso (center) and
                                                                 on in our organization. Sereena Hogan, National Legislative
husband Sam in front of the Capitol Bulding in St. Louis,        Representative, gave a brief overview of the issues pending
with the famous St. Louis Gateway Arch in the background.                                                continued on page 8
                                                                    Next year’s SWCM will be in Kansas City, Missouri, and we look
                                                                    forward to seeing old friends again and making new ones.

                                                                    More Convention Highlights!

2008 SWCM’s Auxiliary Chair Rachael Grimes (left) and Aux.
6 Legislative Rep. Anna Stacia Penrod (right) did a great job
selling raffle tickets at the SWCM in St. Louis.
in Washington, D.C., and the importance of the upcoming

Mother Nature decided we didn’t need to take a Mississippi
River Cruise. With all the rain that had fallen in that area over   Long-time Auxiliary Member Louise McCulloch and her
the previous week, the river was up 45 feet and was deemed          husband, retired BLET International Vice President/NLR Ed
unsafe for river boatin’. Our hats are off off to Convention        McCulloch, are familiar faces at the annual Southwestern
Chairman David Grimes for his fast thinking in making               Convention and this year was no exception. Louise and
arrangements for a lovely dinner at the hotel.                      Ed, it’s always a pleasure to see you both!

Wednesday’s activities included the Secretary/Treasurer,
Legislative Representative, and Local Chairmen’s workshops,
and even a New Member’s workshop. In the morning, those
not attending the workshops had the opportunity to take a
personal tour of St. Louis’s beautiful Union Station, and enjoy
shopping at the mall now located in the depot. The afternoon
allowed for basking in the beauty of the Missouri Botanical
Gardens. The convention closed with a banquet and dance.
Thursday’s business meeting was an adventure into the depths
of Roberts Rules of Order. Congratulations go to David Grimes
for his election to the SWCM Committee’s Vice President
position, but our own National Treasurer Helen Brand certainly
gave him a run for his money. Congratulations also to Norm
Baker for taking over the Secretary-Treasurer duties of the
committee. Many thanks to Tim Windsor for his dedicated
service to this committee over the last nine years.                 Our beloved Bettye Dollar, who served for eight years as
                                                                    International Treasurer for the Auxiliary, had a wish come
We would be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge the dedication          true. Bettye has wanted to win the train print donated
of two Auxiliary 6 members from Boone, Iowa. Rachael Grimes         each year by BRCF at the regional meetings for a very
served as Auxiliary Chair, and she and Anna Stacia Penrod did       long time... and this year it finally happened at the SMA
a great job selling raffle tickets, netting enough proceeds to       in Montgomery, Alabama. Congratulations Bettye!
fund four scholarships. Without the dedication of members like
them, we would not be able to provide opportunities for the
children of BLET and Auxiliary members in our efforts to help             For information about the 2009
them continue their higher education. Thanks also to David               Regional Conventions, please see
Grimes and the entire convention site committee for their                           back cover!
dedication and hard work to put on an excellent convention.
                                      Legislative Update
                             By Sereena Hogan, National Legislative Representative

                        “In honor              294, was combined with H.R. 2095,                  carriers until regulations are issued
                        of Barack              the Railroad Safety Enhancement Act of             by the Secretary within three years
                        Obama, the             2008, in an attempt to get these bills             after the law is enacted.
                        44th President         passed through Congress before they            •   Implementation of positive train
                        of the United          adjourn for the year. The September 12             control by 2015 on lines used
                        States of              train accident in Chatsworth, California,          for passenger trains and to move
                        America, let           brought renewed urgency to passage                 hazardous materials.
                        us celebrate in        of the Rail Safety bill. On October            •   Mandates prompt medical attention
                        the names of           1, the combined rail safety/Amtrak                 for injured railroad employees.
                        those who were         authorization bill was passed by the           •   Provides for a study of the
here before Christopher Columbus;              Senate with 74 yeas and 24 nays. It was            locomotive cab environment.
the ones who stepped off the boats,            signed into law by President Bush on           •   Mandates critical incident stress
kissed the ground and willed us to be          Thursday, October 16, 2008.                        debriefing.
here; the ones who did not survive the                                                        •   Mandates a study of railroad
Middle Passage; the ones who worked            The bill authorizes significant new                 employee exposure to nuclear
to end slavery; the ones who starved           funding for Amtrak at $5.3 billion in              radiation.
themselves for the right to vote; the          capital projects such as new cars and          •   Requires railroads to provide
ones who braved the fire hoses; who             infrastructure improvements, $2.9 billion          emergency escape breathing
are buried in nameless graves; the             in operating subsidies, and $1.9 billion           apparatus in locomotives when
ones who marched; the ones who                 for intercity passenger rail over five              trains carry toxic-by-inhalation
prayed and sang.”                              years. It also requires the Department             hazardous materials.
     - Elise Bryant, Senior Staff Associate,
                                               of Transportation to solicit privatization
       National Labor College, Silver          proposals for 11 high-speed rails             Also as a result of the tragic California
       Spring, Maryland                        corridors nationwide.                         train collision, Metrolink has put an
                                                                                             additional engineer on some trains to
The above quote is from an e-mail I            Although the passage of this legislation      provide “another set of eyes.” Again, this
received from the very dynamic Elise           is good news for Amtrak, we are               reinforces our long-standing belief that
Bryant on Nov. 5, following the long           disappointed in some of the provisions        two-man crews should be required for
awaited November 4 election results            of the rail safety legislation because the    safety reasons. Metrolink and UP are
that put unions and rail employees in          hours of service change does nothing          looking into implementation of Positive
a much better position than we have            to mitigate fatigue. The legislation limits   Train Control before the 2015 deadline
been in for the last eight years. Hope         railroad operating crews to a maximum         imposed in the Rail Safety bill.
is on the horizon! Now it’s up to us to        276 hours per month, including 40
make sure that our elected officials            hours of limbo time. We had argued                       Cell Phone Use in
are held accountable. With a Democrat          that you cannot include limbo time in                    Locomotive Cabs
in the White House, a Vice President           hours of service limits because it can’t      On October 2 the FRA issued an
who wholeheartedly supports the rail           be considered on duty time for one            emergency order that became effective
industry, and a Democratic majority in         purpose and neither on-duty or off-duty       October 27 banning the use of all
both the Senate and the House, we are          for another.                                  electronic devices, including cell phones,
hopeful that we can make some real             Other provisions of the bill include:         in locomotive cabs, except in cases
headway with those issues that are of          10 hour call pilot project and scheduled      of emergency, or on a moving train if
importance to railroad employees and           call pilot project.                           the radio has failed. The BLET and the
their families.                                  • Allows labor and management               UTU filed a joint Petition for Review of
                                                    to negotiate alternative hours of        the emergency order on November 14,
  Combined Rail Safety/Amtrak                       service plans.                           requesting that the Federal Railroad
    Authorization Bill Passed                    • Existing hours of service law shall       Administration make specific exceptions
On September 29, The Passenger Rail                 apply to commuter, short haul            to the Order in the name of safety.
Investment and Improvement Act, S.                  passenger carriers, or intercity                           continued on page 11

Are you Sleepy? You may have Sleep Apnea!
By Sereena Hogan, National Vice President/National Legislative Rep.
At a legislative meeting I            and may happen more often and
attended this past year, a BLET       get louder over time. Because the
Legislative Rep recommended           affected person is asleep when the
that we consider an article about     snoring or gasping occurs, they
sleep apnea for our newsletter.       often are unaware they are having
What prompted him to make this        problems or are unable to assess
recommendation, he said, was          the severity of it. The way they       breathing through their mouths
the fact that he would never have     usually find out there is a problem     instead of their noses during the
known he had sleep apnea, a           is when it is pointed out to them by   day.
very serious and potentially life-    a family member or bed partner. It
threatening disorder, had his wife    is important to note, however, that    Sleep apnea is as common as adult
not noticed the signs and urged       not everyone who snores has sleep      diabetes and affects more then 12
him to check into it.                 apnea.                                 million Americans, according to
                                                                             the National Institutes of Health.
The Greek word “apnea” literally      Central sleep apnea is less            Because of the lack of awareness
means “without breath.” Sleep         common. It happens when the part       by the public and healthcare
apnea, one of the leading causes      of a person’s brain that controls      professionals, the vast majority
of excessive daytime sleepiness,      breathing does not send the correct    of cases remain undiagnosed and
often goes undiagnosed. Doctors       signals to the breathing muscles       untreated, despite the fact that this
cannot detect it during routine       and therefore the person makes no      is a serious disorder that can have
office visits and there are no blood   effort to breathe for brief periods.   significant consequences.
tests for the condition. Because      Central sleep apnea frequently
it only occurs during sleep, most     occurs together with obstructive       Untreated sleep apnea can lead
people are not aware they have        sleep apnea; however, it can occur     to high blood pressure and
it until a family member or sleep     alone. This type of sleep apnea        other cardiovascular disease
partner lets them know.               does not typically cause snoring.      and may be responsible for job
                                                                             impairment and motor vehicle
The most common type of sleep         Signs and symptoms of sleep apnea      crashes. Fortunately, the disorder
apnea is called obstructive sleep     include:                               can be diagnosed and treated and
apnea, caused by a blockage of          • Fighting sleepiness during the     research into additional treatment
the airway, usually when the              day, at work, or while driving     options continues. If you suspect
soft tissue in the rear of throat       • Morning headaches                  that you or someone you love
collapses and closes during sleep.      • Memory or learning problems        might have this disorder, contact
This causes shallow breathing or          and inability to concentrate       your healthcare professional for
pauses in the breathing pattern.        • Weight gain                        an evaluation.
Obstructive sleep apnea is more         • Feeling irritable or depressed
common in people who are                • Mood swings or personality         Resources:
overweight, but it can happen to          changes                            American Sleep Apnea
anyone. Those affected with this        • Frequent urination at night        Association,
disorder usually snore loudly and       • Dry throat upon waking
continuously during sleep as a                                               National Heart, Lung, and Blood
result of air squeezing its way       In children, sleep apnea can cause     Institute, U.S. Dept. of Health
past the blockage. Pauses may         hyperactivity, poor performance        and Human Services, National
occur in the snoring, followed by     in school, and aggressiveness.         Institutes of Health, http://www.
choking or gasping. The snoring       Children with sleep apnea may also
is usually loudest when the person    have unusual sleeping positions,       SleepApnea/SleepApnea_WhatIs.
is sleeping on his or her back,       bedwetting, and may be prone to        html
Legislative Update, continued from page 9
                                                                      Greetings from Editor Sereena Hogan:
     Californians Votes YES on High-Speed Rail                        Here we are with the holiday season upon us again
On November 4, 52% of California voters voted yes on a                and another busy year coming to a close. I enjoyed
proposition that authorizes the sale of $10 billion in bonds          attending the three regional conventions I was able to get
for a statewide high-speed rail network. Construction on the          to this summer. The only one I missed was the SMA in
800-mile long network that will run between San Diego, San            Montgomery. In addition to traveling to those meetings, I
Francisco, and Sacramento is expected to begin as early as            have also been accompanying my husband, Ken Kroeger,
2011, with a projected completion date of 2030, and will cost         who is the BLET National Coordinator of Education and
approximately $45 billion.                                            Training, to some of the training classes he organizes for
                                                                      BLET officers. This is a great opportunity for me to share
This will be the first true high-speed train system in the U.S.        information about the Auxiliary with those who attend the
                                                                      classes. We were at the National Labor College in Silver
and will provide safe, reliable travel at half the cost of building
                                                                      Spring, Maryland, earlier this month for a Local Chairman’s
freeways and airports of similar capacity. Passenger cost for
                                                                      Training, and I will also accompany him to the Secretary-
city-to-city travel will be less than the cost of the same trip by    Treasurer’s Training in Cleveland next month. I expect the
air or automobile.                                                    Cleveland weather will be a shock to our systems as we
                                                                      are still experiencing temperatures in the low 80s here in
Once completed, the system will not require operating                 Tucson this month.
subsidies and is expected to generate over $1 billion in annual
profits. The California High Speed Rail Authority projects that        I’m excited about the new President-Elect Barack Obama
the system will create 160,000 construction jobs during the           and the new Administration and Congress. President-
next two decades and 320,000 permanent jobs by 2030,                  Elect Obama emphasized throughout his campaign the
possibly rising to 450,000 jobs by 2035. Additionally, the            importance of rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure to enable
system will reduce the state’s reliance on fossil fuel by 12.7        it to suport economic growth and create more jobs here in
                                                                      our homeland. He is a strong supporter of Amtrak and all
million barrels of oil annually and will eliminate 12 billion
                                                                      U.S. passenger rail service and believes that our nation’s
pounds of CO2 emissions per year.
                                                                      transportation system should be protected by proper labor
                                                                      standards. I am hopeful that we can make some great
       Railroad Retirement Fund Okay for Now                          strides toward providing a safer work environment for our
For those concerned about the health of Railroad Retirement           railroad employees during the next four years.
in the current economy, NARVRE reported that the latest
actuarial report from the RR Retirement Board proclaims the           It is my hope also that all of our BLET and Auxiliary
system to be generally favorable for the next 25 years. Even          members enjoy a very blessed holiday season. Times
with losses in the market, the Trust fund is still ahead from the     are tough in our nation right now and, as we look around,
16% return realized last year. Of course, that could change if        we, as railroad families, have a lot for which can be truly
the markets don’t turn around.                                        grateful. Let’s remember to give thanks for all that our union
                                                                      has provided for us and for the Brother/Sisterhood that we
                                                                      are all a part of. Happy Holidays everyone!
For more information on Railroad Retirement and Railroad
Retirement Unemployment Insurance, as well as the
Railroad Retirement Investment Trust, go to:             Please send us your stories, articles, pho-
                                                                      tos, poems, etc., for our publication. You
Sereena Hogan can be reached by telephone at (520) 297-               can e-mail or snail-mail them to:
0944; by mail at 8720 N. Myrtle Dr., Tucson, AZ 85704, or
by e-mail at                                      Sereena Hogan, Editor & Publisher
Summary of Legislative Issues:                                        BLET Auxiliary News
                                                                      8720 N. Myrtle Drive
1. S. 184, the Surface Transportation and Rail                        Tucson, AZ 85704
   Security Act of 2007 (STARS) - contact your two                    Phone: 520-297-0944
   U.S. Senators to support and/or cosponsor this bill.               e-mail:

2. H.R. 1269, the Rail and Public Transportation                      The next issue will be published in March.
   Security Act of 2007 - contact your Congressio-
   nal Representative to encourage their support and                  Please have your submissions to Sereena no
   cosponsorship.                                                     later than February 25.

                                 Regional Convention Schedule for 2009
Southeastern Meeting Association                                    hotel. Deadline to book these rooms is February 28, 2009,
Gatlinburg, Tennessee - June 7-11, 2009                             after which they must be released back to the hotel. The
                                                                    convention rate, $169 per night single or double occupancy
Brother John Mason, Local Chairman of BLET Division 239             (additional for triple or quadruple occupancy) is also available
(Knoxville, TN), is Chairman of the 2009 SMA in Gatlinburg,         for the three days following EUMA, and also must be booked
Tenn. It will be held at the Park Vista Hotel & Conference          prior to February 28.
Center, 705 Cherokee Orchard Road, Gatlinburg, TN 37738;
Phone: (865) 436-9211. The room rate will be $103 per               International Western Convention
night. To contact Brother Mason, call (865) 523-2684 e-mail:        Green Bay, Wisconsin - August 9-14, 2009 or
                                                                    Brother John Reynolds, Wisconsin Central General Chairman
Eastern Union Meeting Association                                   and member of BLET Division 209, Green Bay, WI., is Chairman
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - July 5-9, 2009                         of the 2009 IWC in Green Bay, WI. It will be held at Radisson
                                                                    Hotel & Conference Center Green Bay, 2040 Airport Drive,
Brother Sean Simon, Vice President of BLET Division 226             Green Bay, WI 54313: Phone: (920) 494-7300. The room rate
(Newark, NJ), is Arrangements Chairman of the 2009 EUMA             will be $94 per night. To contact Brother Reynolds, call (920)
in Philadelphia, Pa. It will be held at the Hyatt Regency           462-4509 or e-mail:
Philadelphia at Penn’s Landing, 201 S. Columbus Blvd.,
Philadelphia, PA 19106: Phone: (215) 928-1234. The room             Southwestern Convention Meeting
rate will be $169 per night. To contact Brother Simon, call         Kansas City, Missouri - September 13-16, 2009
(609) 558-6405 or e-mail:
                                                                    Brother Mike Zenner, Secretary-Treasurer of BLET Division
Brother Simon notes that the EUMA is making available a             130, Kansas City, KS, is Hosting Chairman of the 2009 SWCM
limited number (40) of rooms at $199 per night for the July         in Kansas City, Mo. It will be held at the Hyatt Regency Crown
4 weekend (July 2, 3, 4). This will coincide with Philadelphia’s    Center, 2345 McGee St., Kansas City, MO 64108: Phone: (816)
“Welcome America” celebration, which include free concerts          421-1234. The room rate will be $139 per night. To contact
and fireworks on the waterfront, immediately adjacent to the         Brother Zenner, call (816) 804-9107or email:

                                                                                        Moving? Please notify us of your new address

                                                                                                             Return Service Requested

     Permit No. 2216
       Tucson, AZ                                                  Tucson, AZ 85704
         PAID                                                      8720 N. Myrtle Drive
      U.S. Postage                                                 Sereena Hogan, Publisher, BLET Auxiliary News
     Nonprofit Org.                                                                              BLET Auxiliary

To top