The reign of Edward Rodzwicz was brief. And members of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) might be feeling a certain relief. On November 13, Rodzwicz resigned as president of the Cleveland-based, Teamsters-affiliated union, one month after his arrest by federal agents on a pair of bribery charges. He is scheduled to stand trial in St. Louis starting January 4. This makes the second BLET president to step down in as many years. The union in the meantime has named an interim replacement.
Rodzwicz, 63, a resident of Avon, Ohio, assumed the union’s top office last year following the removal of his predecessor, Don Hahs, by Teamsters President James P. Hoffa. Hahs had embezzled about $58,000 in BLET funds for unauthorized personal expenses. But Rodzwicz had an ethical blind spot of his own. And it would cost him. Rodzwicz was indicted in St. Louis this past October for accepting two separate $10,000 bribes from an unnamed lawyer based in that city. Court papers show that Rodzwicz solicited and accepted $10,000 from this individual on April 28 in Las Vegas and another $10,000 on September 16 in Kansas City, Mo. In exchange, Rodzwicz allegedly allowed the lawyer to continue to represent union employees in injury claims cases; the attorney was supposed to be ineligible due to prior ethical violations. Arrested at his home on October 13, Rodzwicz took a leave of absence two days later.
Meanwhile, the 55,000-member Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen has begun reordering its house. On November 17, four days after Rodzwicz’s resignation, the union advisory board named First Vice President Paul Sorrow as interim president. A month later the board elevated Vice President Dennis Pierce to First Vice President and Gil Gore to take over Pierce’s old slot. Members will have a chance to elect a permanent leadership team next year, when they will vote in the railroad union’s first-ever direct election for top officers.