The resignation of Edward Rodzwicz last November as president of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) was almost inevitable. So, it seems, was his guilty plea. On Thursday, March 4, Rodzwicz pleaded guilty in St. Louis federal court to bribery and interstate travel for unlawful activity in relation to solicitations for bribery totaling $20,000. He had been indicted and arrested last fall at his home in Avon, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland, headquarters of BLET. He faces sentencing on June 3.
The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, an affiliate of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, is the nation’s second-largest rail labor organization behind the United Transportation Union. It’s also had its share of ethically-challenged leaders. Two years ago, Rodzwicz, previously BLET’s first vice president, became president following the removal of predecessor Don Hahs by Teamsters President James P. Hoffa for embezzlement of nearly $60,000 in union funds. But this reign would end unhappily as well. Rodzwicz was indicted in St. Louis last October for accepting bribes from an unnamed lawyer in that city. Court documents show that he solicited the payments in two $10,000 installments – received on April 28, 2009 in Las Vegas and on September 16 in Kansas City, Mo. In return, he allowed the attorney to represent union employees in injury claims cases despite being ineligible due to prior ethical violations.