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Four UTU members file federal lawsuit to block SMWIA merger


Four United Transportation Union (UTU) members — including a union vice president — recently filed a lawsuit in a U.S. district court in East St. Louis, Ill., seeking to prevent the UTU from merging with the Sheet Metal Workers International Association (SMWIA) on Jan. 1.

The UTU and SMWIA plan to combine and form the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation (SMART) Workers. In August, more than 71 percent of UTU members ratified the merger agreement.

UTU members Ed Michael, Jim Eubanks and John Hasenauer, and UTU Vice President Roy Arnold filed the suit claiming the UTU — which will become SMART's transportation division — will have no treasury of its own and all dues money will go directly into SMART's general fund; the UTU's constitution would not remain intact as promised; and any action by UTU delegates to change the constitution and any on-property agreement will need to be approved by sheet metal worker representatives. They also claim UTU members did not receive all the necessary information to accurately evaluate the merger before casting their ratification vote.

UTU lawyers currently are studying a copy of the lawsuit, said UTU International President Paul Thompson in a prepared statement.

"UTU members ratified the merger and our lawyers will vigorously defend the decision of our members," he said.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 12/6/2007