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Rail News: Labor

UTU members bless merger with sheet metal workers union

The long list of rail labor union acronyms is about to get longer.

More than 71 percent of United Transportation Union (UTU) members recently ratified an agreement to merge the union with the Sheet Metal Workers International Association (SMWIA) and form the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART). The merger — which had been in development the past three years — takes effect Jan. 1, 2008

The SMWIA previously approved the plan to create SMART, which will represent about 230,000 workers (the union currently comprises 150,000 members and the UTU, 80,000 members).

“SMART will boost the UTU’s strength at the bargaining table and bolster substantially the UTU’s strength in fighting off attempts by other organizations and carriers to take our jobs,” said UTU International President Paul Thompson in a prepared statement.

The UTU will remain autonomous and become part of a Transportation Division within SMART comprising the union’s rail, air and bus industry members. Railroad non-operating workers now represented by SMWIA will participate in national rail bargaining with the division.

Senior officers for the division will be elected next week at the UTU’s convention in Hollywood, Fla., and retain the duties of the UTU’s international president, assistant president, general secretary and treasurer, national legislative director and international vice president. SMWIA General President Mike Sullivan will become SMART’s general president.

Other labor unions have expressed an interest in joining SMART, according to the UTU, which was formed Jan. 1, 1969, through a merger of the Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen, Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen and Enginemen, Switchmen's Union of North America and Order of Railway Conductors and Brakemen.

The SMWIA was created in 1887 and began representing rail shop workers in the early 1900s.

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More News from 8/9/2007