BLET National President Retires

Election Statement by Dennis R. Pierce

December 16, 2022

The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, the founding member of the Teamsters Rail Conference, conducted the ballot count for the 2022 Election of BLET National Division Officers on Monday, December 12, 2022.

BLET’s change from delegate elections in convention to rank and file elections of National Division Officers was instituted in 2006 by a member-led referendum, making BLET one of the only rail unions that allows its membership to directly elect its national division officers. It was the rank and file members that wrote the resulting internal law that now governs our election process, which has been in place since our 2010 election of officers. Much like the International Brotherhood of Teamsters’ internal law, BLET’s internal law requires that election rules be adopted to govern the process. Those rules also follow the requirement of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRDA), the federal law governing union elections.

Just as we live in a land of laws, membership in any union, including the BLET, is governed by member approved internal laws. Regardless of what outside forces may say about our election process, no union can survive without ensuring that its laws are followed. That responsibility falls equally on all members and officers of our Union. I became National President at a time when our rules had not been followed, and with the help of a strong Advisory Board, we went to work in 2010 to put BLET back on the path that rooted corruption out of our union at any and all levels.

I share that for this reason. BLET’s Election Rules, a mandatory extension of our union’s bylaws, must be complied with to ensure a fair, honest, open and informed election. As part of the process, an Election Protest Committee comprised of members in good standing was also mandated with the Election Rules giving all members and candidates the right to file protests to the Committee. Prior to Monday’s ballot count, 11 protests had been filed, including protests filed by all involved campaigns, with eight of those protests decided by the Committee. The Committee’s decision in Protest Number 8 was appealed to the Union’s Advisory Board, and a ruling on that appeal was decided ahead of the ballot count, with the Advisory Board remanding the protest back to the Committee for additional handling. As discussed below, the Committee’s decision on remand was issued late yesterday. Our union’s Advisory Board and the Election Protest Committee are both comprised of solid and honest men who placed their responsibility to enforce the union’s internal laws ahead of all other issues, as they rightfully should.

Turning to the ballot count, ballots were sent to 30,614 ballot eligible members. On Monday, December 12, 2022, 8153 votes cast by voter eligible members were counted, with Candidate Hall receiving 4331 votes and my candidacy receiving 3822 votes. Just as the Election Rules mandated that the ballot count be on December 12, those Election Rules require that the announcement of the certified results be made this coming Monday, December 19, 2022.

Late yesterday, and as mandated by the Election Rules, the Election Protest Committee issued its Supplement Decision in Protest Number 8. In that Decision, they found that the Election Rules violations related to that protest required that the union’s election be rerun and that decision has been posted to the BLET’s website.

I am sending this public announcement to all BLET members to advise them that after serious consideration, I have notified National Secretary-Treasurer Bruno and Candidate Hall that I will not be a candidate in the rerun election for reasons that I will share. After hiring out at the railroad over 45 years ago, with 32 of those years spent serving our great Brotherhood as an officer at every level of our Union, I will be retiring at the end of my current term on December 31, 2022. As such, I am also asking National Secretary-Treasurer Bruno to declare that there being only one candidate in the rerun election, Edward Hall is elected by acclamation to the office of National President effective January 1, 2022. I have also notified National Secretary-Treasurer Bruno that all remaining protests on record from any member of my campaign are withdrawn and I will be closing down all campaign related social media pages. I have also advised National President-Elect Hall that I will assist him in his transition to our union’s highest office to the fullest extent that he desires.

My decision was not an easy one. Whether or not any member agrees or disagrees with the difficult decisions that I have had to make as National President, I have always put the membership and our Union as an institution first and foremost. For that very reason, I will not subject this Brotherhood to the further division that would be caused by a rerun election.

But I leave office with a request of all BLET members. I ask that those who manage social media pages that incite division against other members and officers shut those pages down too. If President-Elect Hall and the Advisory Board that he will preside over are to have any chance at success, the hateful rhetoric, division and infighting fostered by social media and egged on by outside non-member forces must end. The membership must stand united in the fight against the rail carriers, and stop blaming their union and its officers for the actions of those carriers.

I am certain that President-Elect Hall will agree with me how critical this is. Honeymoon periods for incoming union presidents are made shorter and shorter by these divisive forces. I intend to give the new administration a fighting chance, and ask each and every member to do the same by standing united. Place the blame for the oppressive workplace where it belongs, on the rail carriers not your union.

I have truly been honored to serve our proud Brotherhood at all levels of the BLET, but most importantly as your National President. I have also been honored along the way to serve alongside some of the brightest and best men and women in all of Labor, both within the BLET and in the IBT, the AFL-CIO and among the officers, staff and counsel of all of the other Rail Unions that I have been honored to serve with. I must also give special thanks the BLET National Division Staff, there is no harder working group of dedicated men and women in all of Rail Labor, and each and every one of them have earned to right to work for the incoming administration. I also give thanks to the members who have supported me over the years in the various offices I have been elected to.

Finally, we all know that the life of a railroader and of a union representative takes a huge toll on our families, and my experience has been no different. After seeing me forced from home for many years and working road jobs that took me away from them for the 15 years that I ran an engine, my family came along with me on two cross country moves so I could work for the membership. And like all of you, my family has been neglected along the way while I worked both for the railroad and on behalf of the union. I now intend to do all that I can to make that up to them in retirement.  I do not retire with any remorse or regret as I am confident that I leave the BLET National Division better than I found it. I ask you all to make the same commitment I have, support the BLET, especially the incoming administration. You have every right to be enraged at the rail carriers, turn that into being engaged in your union.

In solidarity,
Dennis R. Pierce


Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen

7061 East Pleasant Valley Road, Independence, OH 44131