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Federal court places preliminary injunction against UTU, sheet metal workers merger


Yesterday, a federal district court issued a preliminary injunction against the merger between the United Transportation Union (UTU) and Sheet Metal Workers International Association (SMWIA). The unions planned to combine to create the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation (SMART) Workers.

The injunction prevents the unions from merging until a legal challenge is concluded. Four UTU members previously filed a lawsuit against the merger claiming the union's membership had not been provided a constitution to examine before the UTU and SMWIA forged a merger agreement. As a result, members weren't aware of conflicts between the two unions' constitutions, the plaintiffs claim. UTU members approved the merger agreement last year and — prior to the lawsuit — the combination had been scheduled to take place on Jan. 1.

The court determined that the UTU's action in not providing members such relevant information constituted a failure to disclose the relevant terms of the merger proposal between the parties. Therefore, the plaintiffs have demonstrated a substantial likelihood of success on their claim that they were deprived of a meaningful merger vote, the court ruled.

The court also determined that substantial evidence exists to support the plaintiffs' assertion that they will suffer irreparable harm if the merger were consummated without an informed vote.

"This confirms my view that if the merger should proceed, it should be the merger promised to members and all conflicts should be resolved in a SMART constitution prior to submission to the members for ratification," said UTU International President Mike Futhey in a prepared statement.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 6/27/2008