The Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen (BRS), established in 1901, is a nationally recognized trade union that represents over 10,000 railroad signal employees throughout the United States and Canada. These professionals play a crucial role in the safety and efficiency of rail systems by installing, repairing, and maintaining signaling systems, including warning mechanisms at railroad-highway intersections.
The diverse responsibilities of Signalmen range from constructing and upgrading signal systems to conducting regular inspections and ensuring prompt restoration of railroad operations in case of issues. They work tirelessly, even under challenging weather conditions, to maintain the safety and smooth functioning of the nation's railroads.
To carry out their roles effectively, Signalmen undergo extensive training both on-the-job and through formal apprenticeship programs. These programs cover federal regulations governing railroad signal systems, as well as essential subjects such as railroad operations, electricity, electronics, and mechanics. Following an apprenticeship period of up to four years, employees achieve journeyman status, with many further receiving advanced training in computer technology and modern electronic circuitry.
The BRS operates under a structure similar to many unions, with local lodges that represent members employed by specific railroads or divisions. These lodges elect officers, establish bylaws, and hold regular meetings to address member concerns and local affairs. Delegates from the local lodges participate in the BRS's conventions, where crucial decisions and policy settings are determined. The current President of the BRS is Michael S. Baldwin, with James M. Finnegan serving as the Secretary-Treasurer.
The BRS is headquartered in Front Royal, Virginia, with local offices across every region, and represents the majority of signal employees on both freight and passenger railroads, including commuter lines. It is affiliated with the AFL-CIO and the Transportation Trades Department, underscoring its robust connection within the labor movement.