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 CLEVELAND, Jan. 7 /PRNewswire/ -- Two ad hoc committees of 10 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers (BLE) officers and 10 United Transportation Union (UTU) representatives completed their joint meetings in December, at which they discussed the possibility of a merger between the Cleveland-based BLE and the UTU.
 In July, the BLE completed a merger with the 2,000-member American Train Dispatchers Association, which is now the American Train Dispatchers Department of the BLE. As of Jan. 3, BLE membership is over 52,400 -- also reflecting over 1,000 new members who joined the union during 1993.
 The BLE committee's recommendations will be reviewed by the BLE Advisory Board during its next regular meeting, scheduled for tomorrow, Jan. 8. The report will also be presented to a meeting of all BLE general chairmen, on Sunday, Jan. 9. The Advisory Board, which is made up of the union's 13 top international officers, reconvenes Monday, Jan. 10, to determine if further action should be taken.
 BLE International President Ronald P. McLaughlin, in his written pre- meeting instructions to BLE representatives on the committee, encourage them "to come to this meeting with an open mind, putting individual interests aside, and focusing on what you think would be in the best interest of our organization."
 Speaking about the UTU ad hoc committee's recommendation to continue merger talks with the BLE, McLaughlin was clear.
 "I believe that any agreement, such as the BLE and UTU have accomplished in Canada, must be wanted and approved by the majority of our membership in the U.S.," said McLaughlin.
 "A BLE-UTU proposal for the U.S. would have to guarantee that the BLE has equal representation on any governing body, such as we have in Canada, and it must also guarantee the BLE's autonomy. Otherwise, I would never agree to it.
 "As I've said before, the BLE is the union of the future. I will not approve or send out a proposal to be voted upon by the membership that could in any way weaken our organization or threaten its autonomy," said the BLE president.
 "Personally, I'd be very interested to see what kind of a proposal the UTU might come up with, that they think our members would accept."
 The BLE was founded on May 8, 1863. Its first Canadian charter was granted, in Toronto, in 1865. For several reasons, its membership is growing, while rail industry employment is shrinking in the U.S. and Canada. The BLE is currently exploring the feasibility of representing Mexican rail employees, something it did do before Mexico nationalized its railroads.
 Over 130-years-old, the BLE is the longest surviving international labor union founded in the U.S. It is headquartered in downtown Cleveland's Standard Building, which it built and owns, and maintains offices in Washington D.C. and Ottawa.
 It represents employees working on commuter, freight, and Amtrak passenger lines.
 -0- 1/7/94
 /CONTACT: Stephen W. FitzGerald, director of public relations, of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, 216-241-2630/

CO: Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers; United Transportation Union ST: Ohio IN: TRN SU: TNM

KL-BM -- CL004 -- 0149 01/07/94 12:17 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Jan 7, 1994

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