To: All Grand Lodge Officers Elected at the 43rd and 44th Quadrennial Conventions and all System Officers in the United States and Canada
From: Joel Myron
Re: My Dismissal As a Grand Lodge Appointee
Date: August , 2002
Dear Sirs and Brothers:
I am writing this letter requesting your assistance to correct a substantial injustice done to me by President Fleming. The injustice is not that he dismissed me as Director of Strategic Coordination and Research approximately 1 month prior to the expiration of my term or that he failed to reappoint me to that position for his next term. He has the aruguable right to take both actions. I am asking your assistance because he directly lied to me prior to and after the Convention about his intentions to reappoint me about his intention to retain me, has not to this day talked to me regarding these actions, and took these actions in a manner that is reminiscent of the most vicious manner the carriers act towards our members when they remove people from service. Additionally he lied to some of you prior to Convention and after Convention regarding his intention to retain me and never informed any of us that he would simply remove me from service prior to the beginning of his next term. Directly relying on his assurances that I would continue as Director of Strategic Coordination and Research, I chose not to take certain actions to protect my economic and professional future in the months prior to Convention or at Convention, as I wanted to and intended to, based upon my record and my own perception of where I could best serve our membership, continue as Director of Strategic Coordination and Research. I am now in a situation where I am unemployed and my health insurance runs out at the end of this month. I served President Fleming and this Brotherhood loyally, and I and most of you believe, skillfully, since November, 1992 and believe that I was owed honesty if he felt we should part ways. Simply because President Fleming has the right to treat loyal and dedicated members/employees in the most cavalier and dishonest manner possible under the law, a manner that we would be up-in-arms about if the carrier treated our members in such a way, does not mean he has the right to treat us in that manner under basic principles of unionism or under the Constitution and By-laws.
On July 29, 2002 I received a letter from BMWE President Mac Fleming informing me that I will not be reappointed to my position as Director of Strategic Coordination and Research. The letter directed me to immediately vacate my office and turn in all BMWE property in my possession and talk to Administrative Assistant to the President William Hildenbrand regarding anything owed me by the Brotherhood. The letter was dated July 26, 2002 . I was told by Brother Hildenbrand that my termination was effective the date of the letter, July 26, 2002 .
I had commenced my vacation, approved directly by President Fleming, on July 25, 2002 and was home when the letter came. I had talked to President Fleming on July 24, 2002 about going on vacation and we discussed that I would be home for most of my vacation in the event he needed to contact me about the IBB merger campaign or bargaining on the Wisconsin Central, a newly organized BMWE bargaining unit whose negotiations I was to be a part of. Not at that point, or even to this day, did President Fleming inform me that I was not going to be reappointed.
As he has not talked to me, I can only surmise his reasons for these actions. Earlier in the year, he told some of you that I was intending to run against him for President. When these rumors came back to me, I spoke to him about them and assured him that I had no such intention. I told him that if I were going to run against him, I would resign from my appointed position to do so, as I believed it to be immoral to run against anyone in the Brotherhood while serving as an appointee in his administration. At other times I heard that he had been saying that I opposed the IBB Merger the first time around. I mildly supported the IBB merger the first time around. When I was asked to publicly state my position on the IBB merger, I drafted a position and gave it to him to read. I told him the position might make people on both sides of the issue angry, as I supported the merger, but with significant reservations and both my support for the IBB merger my reservations about it were in the letter. He read the letter and ask that I post it, which I then did. I intended my letter to be just one of many postings by many who were commenting on the issue, but my posting was singled out by someone at Grand Lodge and made a prominent piece. During the first IBB merger battle, I stayed out of it for the most part. I did, however, tell President Fleming days prior to his putting it out for ratification that he was putting it out too early – that several very pro-merger General Chairmen told me they needed more time to educate their members regarding the merger. President Fleming chose to ignore that advice. I gave other advice early in the campaign that was ignored. I served as an advisor on the merger committee and made contributions to the original document, such as: (1) suggesting we had an arbitration clause; (2) suggesting that our merger agreement didnÕt sunset (end after a certain date); (3) suggesting that the merger agreement could only be amended by agreement of the IBB AND the BMWE division; (4) suggesting that on the critical points the merger agreement was not subservient to the IBB Constitution and by-laws just to name a few. All of these suggestions, which were not in the document prior to my raising them, were incorporated into the document. There were also other suggestions I made at that time that were incorporated into the document. Given all of this, I was quite upset when I heard that President Fleming was telling some of you that I opposed the first IBB Merger.
The only other thing that I have heard through the grapevine regarding his reasons to dismiss me in such a vicious manner is that I Òput Jim Knight up to running against himÓ. ThatÕs untrue and ridiculous. I told Jim when he told me he was running that he would probably lose and also lose his appointed position as Director of Intergovernmental Affairs. He chose to run for his own reasons and ran his campaign as he saw fit. It is true that Jim is a close friend – I was best man at his wedding and I socially interact with Jim, his wife and grandchildren. I would not try to convince a close friend to run for a position I did not think he could win and give up a position that he has. Another untrue Jim Knight story Mac has been circulating is that Jim left because he could not get along with me and that I have a hard time working with others. Jim and I worked well together and neither Jim or I have had any problems. ThatÕs just Mac making up stories to explain the inexplicable.
Towards the end of the pre-Convention meetings, when I signed the new IBB Merger Agreement, President Fleming and I had a confrontation because I thought he was publicly stating at that time that I didnÕt support the merger. We went into his office and talked for a long period of time. When we left, I believed we had discussed all of those things and all had been put to bed. We again discussed the above issues and I told him that I believed I could better serve the BMWE as Director of Strategic Coordination and Research than as President and had not intention of running for President. He told me he believed me and that he intended to keep me in that position assuming he won as President. Subsequently he came to Washington , DC and came into my office. He told me there was a rumor being circulated Òby the other sideÓ that he was going to can me if he won. He told me it was propaganda by the other side designed to weaken him and I should simply ignore it – that it was his intention to keep me on if he won. I believed him at that time. I also told him at that time that the Amtrak situation had heated up and required my monitoring and it would be better if I stayed in DC rather than go to Convention. He said heÕd think about it and later agreed, so I didnÕt even go to Convention.
Again, as he has not explained to me why he did what he did, I can only surmise these were his reasons. Perhaps he thought I functioned too independently, but I was always loyal to his administration and have functioned in this manner since the day he appointed me. He should have at least discussed this with me if he had a problem with my performance.
Periodically I am hearing dribs and drabs of what he has been saying about me. He says I didnÕt file vacation schedules at the beginning of each year. YouÕd think I just started last year instead of having worked there for nearly 10 years. I discussed this with him the first year and he agreed that because my schedule is so unpredictable, I should take my vacations when work permits. Other staff do the same thing, but now itÕs an issue.
I chose not to call him after receiving the letter on July 29, 2002 for 2 reasons. First and foremost he had already lied to me and to some of you. I didnÕt and donÕt think I can believe what he has to say. Second he fired me in the most harsh and arbitrary manner possible, reminiscent of some of the horror stories we periodically hear from the carriers. He has made it clear where heÕs at now that he lied himself into the Presidency. Obviously he thought if he told me or any of you before Convention that he intended to can me, he might not have received the 880 some odd votes over 50% that he received at the Convention. So he chose to lie instead
You all know my record – from my involvement in PEB 229 and the Railroad Retirement Occupational Disability battles to the Amtrak battles, to winning retroactive per diems on the UP, to making certain that we received all of the national increases PEB 229 provided during the CSX implementation to making certain that our NS membership received the benefits of Feb. 7 when NS tried to claim we werenÕt entitled to them, to the Òbed and breakfastÓ on BNSF, to the improvements on CN and CP properties to winning a ÒCadillacÓ sub-pay benefit on Conrail and many, many others, I have been a significant player in all of those improvements for our members. We did it together as a BMWE team, and I donÕt take credit for them myself. But I certainly was and have been a major contributor in all of those battles and many, many others. If I did any or all of the things President Fleming perceives, I still didnÕt deserve the callous and vicious immediate dismissal by mail. Having not done any of those things and receiving this outrageous treatment is simply being punished for serving him and the BMWE loyally. You all know me. Do you really believe I deserve to have been treated in this manner, even if he had the legal right to do so?
What I say for me regarding this cavalier treatment goes for Brother Swanson and Sister Creswell also. They, too, were dismissed by letter, finding out about their dismissals when their credit cards or phone cards no longer worked. People who have provided dedicated and loyal service to the BMWE over a long period of time do not deserve to be notified by mail and simply put out in the street with no consideration. One of the main reasons BMWE was organized was to stop such treatment by employers. Even if he has the legal right to act in such a manner, he should not based upon some legal mumbo jumbo. ItÕs as simple as that and itÕs a major infringement of basic principles of unionism and how our union treats its own. He evidently believes he has the right to lie to me and to some of you, to make promises upon which I relied at a substantial detriment to my own financial and professional well being, and to then act in a manner that would embarrass some of the carriers our members work for. He believes he can act in violation of basic principles of unionism and the BMWE Constitution and By-laws. How do you think he is going to act when he confronts things he doesnÕt like during his term of office?
I have not decided what, if anything, I intend to do about the situation. As I am not independently wealthy (even if I am a Jew), I need to look after my immediate needs. I realize there has been tremendous political upheaval over the past year and I have done my best to stay out of that upheaval and represent our members. However if weÕre going to move into the future, we should do so as a serious, dedicated union who believes in and acts on the principles we espouse. A President who could take the kind of actions President Fleming took in the manner we were dismissed is incapable of providing that kind of leadership. Running our union based upon intimidation and fear will simply lead us to destruction. And as I will not have the same access to you as he does, you will hear a constant theme about how awful IÕve been that I will not have the opportunity to respond to. Just remember, he lied to many of you, not just to me, Paul and Sue.
These will be hard decisions for most of you, and I apologize for having to move forward in this manner. I have been a member of the BMWE for over 30 years and would not support the kind of action President Fleming took against us against loyal, dedicated members of our union. That it has happened to me makes it even harder. Political expediency must bend to basic principles of trade unionism and our Constitution and By-laws.
Thank you for reading this letter and I hope we as a union has the courage to live up to our creed.