The train and engine service employees at Florida Gulf & Atlantic Railroad (FGA) will become the newest members of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen (BLET), following a recent vote.
BLET on July 14 reported that approximately 75% of train and engine employees at the previously non-union FGA—a Gulf & Atlantic Railways-owned regional that operates on 430 route-miles in Florida—signed authorization cards in April, “indicating that they would like to be represented by the BLET.” The National Mediation Board accepted them, scheduled an election and certified that election July 12, according to the union, which said it will work with the new members to begin negotiating a contract.
The 51,000-member BLET represents locomotive engineers and other railroad workers on all of the nation’s Class I railroads, Amtrak and most commuter railroads, as well as many smaller carriers. In 2004, it affiliated with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.
“We have an exceptional operating team at the Florida, Gulf & Atlantic Railroad, and we look forward to working with the BLET to ensure that FGA remains a top-tier short line employer and a great place to work for our employees,” Gulf & Atlantic Railways Chief Administration Officer Gaynor Ryan told Railway Age.
BLET Vice President Randy Fannon, who led the organizing effort, said during the announcement: “Railroaders at FGA wanted union representation so that they can address issues related to safety, working conditions, wages and other compensation with their employer. I’ve spoken to the company’s CEO [Ryan Ratledge] and let him know that we want the FGA to be successful. With the railroad successful, our members will be successful.”
“We recently revamped our organizing department and this win at FGA is the first of what we hope will be many elections at the nation’s short line railroads,” BLET National President Eddie Hall added. “Across the country, locomotive engineers and train service employees at short lines have seen the gain in wages our members have made in the National Freight Rail Agreement last year and improvements in scheduling this year. They know that we have been a voice for improved safety. They are reaching out and want to join us.”
In a related development, Jacksonville, Fla.-based Gulf & Atlantic Railways on May 12 added the Camp Chase Railroad, Chesapeake & Indiana Railroad and Vermilion Valley Railroad to its short line railroad portfolio. The company also owns and operates the 228-mile Grenada Railroad, which received Honorable Mention in Railway Age’s 2021 Short Line and Regional Railroad Awards program.