Commentary: Vandalism disappoints union

With the recent presidential election now behind us and the holidays fast approaching, the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen (BRS) wishes to address some recent incidents that arose during the presidential election.

First, a little background about the BRS. The BRS is a national union that represents over 12,000 hard-working railroad signalmen on all Class I Railroads and several smaller railroad carriers across the United States. The work signalmen perform day in and day out ensures the safety of railroad personnel, the traveling public, and every community that a train travels though. Our members are required to repair failures as they occur, be current on ever-changing technology, and properly test under federal standards any signal system; switch, signal, highway grade crossing warning or otherwise, to safeguard efficient and safe rail operation.

The BRS fights hard to protect our members and to ensure that every worker who takes on the great responsibility of performing signal work, has a position that is firmly rooted in the middle class. While the BRS is not a large union, we are strong because we focus on the interests of the members and progress according to their will.

Part of the fight to protect signal employees requires the BRS to be politically active. As an organization, we support candidates, regardless of party, that will support signalmen and will fight to protect good paying, middle class jobs. In this presidential election, the BRS believed that Hillary Clinton was the best candidate to support signalmen.

The BRS placed campaign signs supporting our candidate on our property starting about one month before the election. Our first signs were in place for a few days and then were stolen. We placed more signs out with the same result, signs being stolen. Eventually, signs were stolen daily until one week before the election, a cowardly vandal lit the campaign signs on fire, causing damage to our property. While the BRS understands the passion involved in this election, and even understands people removing campaign signs, we most certainly do not understand nor condone cowardly and dangerous actions such as arson. With behavior such as this, we question what’s next. Will it be a brick though a car window or something even worse?

The BRS has strived to be a good neighbor in Front Royal. As an organization, we support several national charitable organizations as well as local organizations. The BRS has donated furniture, office supplies and other equipment to many local organizations, including the Economic Development Association of Front Royal/Warren County, Human Life International School, the Blue Ridge Educational Center, Warren County Humane Society, Warren County 4H, the Winchester National Guard, as well as several local schools and physician’s offices. The BRS also uses local businesses for our needs whenever possible. With a track record of supporting the local community and being a good neighbor, the BRS is extremely disappointed in the coward(s) who perpetrated this act, yet optimistic that our community will condemn these perilous actions.

Going forward, we will continue to fight for our members and progress according to their will as we always have. We will not be intimidated by the actions of a troublemaker, and will always support whichever candidate for election best suits the needs of our members. We also hope that the community that we have been a part of for more than 10 years shares our disappointment, and condemns the actions perpetrated against not only the BRS, but the community as a whole.

W. Dan Pickett is president of the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen.