(The following is a statement from Dennis R. Pierce, National President of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) and President of the Teamsters Rail Conference.)
INDEPENDENCE, Ohio, January 22 — Although it remains a travesty that criminal charges were ever filed, justice was served in the unanimous not guilty verdict issued by jurors in the Lac-Megantic trial in Sherbrooke, Quebec, on January 19, 2018.
The trial against three former employees of the Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway (MMA) began in September of 2017, and the jury deliberated for nine days prior to reaching their verdict. The trial laid bare the dangerous tendency of certain rail carriers to cut corners on safety. Leading up to the tragedy of July 5, 2013, the MMA Railway had begun the dangerous practice of one-person train operations, and the trial exposed how employees were forced to work with equipment that contributed to the accident.
As the jurors rightly determined, blaming the workers for the Lac-Megantic catastrophe was the wrong thing to do. Railroading is a complex system of operations, and many factors go into a safe operation. Determining the root cause of this tragedy is more complex than simply blaming the workers, but that all too often is what many rail carriers and government agencies do.
Our hearts and prayers continue to be with the victims and their families who were touched by the tragedy of July 5, 2013. It is our hope they — and the three workers who were wrongly accused — can find some closure from this verdict.
The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) represents more than 57,000 professional locomotive engineers and trainmen throughout the United States. The BLET is the founding member of the Rail Conference, International Brotherhood of Teamsters.
The Teamsters Rail Conference represents more than 70,000 rail workers employed as locomotive engineers, trainmen and maintenance of way workers across the United States as members of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) and Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes Division (BMWED).