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UTU proposes merger with sheet metal workers union

North America’s largest rail labor union might be a whole lot larger next year. The United Transportation Union (UTU) is seeking members’ approval to merge with the Sheet Metal Workers International Association (SMWIA) and form the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART), which would represent 230,000 workers.

The UTU, which has 80,000 active members, plans to present the merger agreement to members for a ratification vote by month’s end. If approved, the union would merge with the SMWIA, which represents 150,000 workers, on Jan. 1, 2008.

The UTU would become part of a Transportation Division within SMART that would include the union’s rail, air and bus industry members. Railroad non-operating workers now represented by the SMWIA would negotiate in national rail bargaining with the division. Senior officers for the division would be elected at the UTU’s August convention in Hollywood, Fla., and retain the duties of the international president, assistant president, general secretary and treasurer, national legislative director and international vice president.

The merger would enable the UTU to benefit from the SMWIA’s organizing expertise and strength, especially to organize short lines, bus properties and airlines, according to the UTU. In addition, combining the two unions’ political action committees (PAC) would create the 21st largest U.S. PAC and 7th largest union PAC.

“The proposed SMART merger is designed to boost the UTU’s strength at the bargaining table, bolster strength in fighting off attempts by other organizations and carriers to take our jobs, and assure the long term financial viability of the UTU and the United Transportation Union Insurance Association,” said UTU International President Paul Thompson in a prepared statement.

Other labor unions have expressed an interest in joining SMART if the merger occurs, according to the UTU.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 6/12/2007