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Rail News: Labor

UTU's Thompson, Johnson lay out post-legal fallout plan

Now that four former officers — including past international presidents Byron Boyd Jr. and Charles Little — have pled guilty to federal racketeering charges tied to events during their tenures, the United Transportation Union is trying to heal its black eye and re-establish its course.

In a recent letter to members, International President Paul Thompson, and General Secretary and Treasurer Dan Johnson said the most difficult challenge facing the union during the next few months isn't overcoming the recent legal events, but securing the UTU's future.

"To dwell on the wrongdoing only diverts our energies and scarce resources from working positively on behalf of our membership," they wrote. "We must not stop moving forward at a time when Republican control of the House, Senate and White House is encouraging employers to take a tougher line in contract negotiations, reduce health care benefits and back away from safety commitments."

To re-open lines of communication between members and union leaders, UTU is creating a link on its Web site ( to provide details of the legal proceedings, including copies of indictments and plea agreements.

To move forward, Thompson and Johnson pledge to continue negotiating contracts that improve wages and benefits, and provide safe working conditions and improved training programs; defending members against "unreasonable and excessive" discipline; filing, processing and winning grievances; meeting the challenges of new technology head-on to protect jobs and pay and ensure adequate training and safety; pushing for craft autonomy; achieving adequate funding for Amtrak; and restoring trust among members.

"In the coming months, we will prove once again to each of our members that they have an international leadership team that leads by example and through two-way dialogue with the members; leaders who tell the truth [and] use the strength of this organization entirely for the benefit of members and their families," they wrote.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 3/18/2004