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Seven UTU board members urge union president to support SMWIA merger


Seven United Transportation Union (UTU) board members recently sent letters to UTU International President Mike Futhey demanding that he support the union's merger with the Sheet Metal Workers International Association (SMWIA).

In a Jan. 1 letter to UTU members, Futhey referred to the merger as a "shotgun wedding" and stressed that members — who ratified the merger agreement in August — didn't have sufficient information at the time to make an informed decision on the UTU/SMWIA marriage.

The board members urged Futhey to instruct UTU's law department to pursue an overturn of a recent court ruling. On Dec. 27, a federal district court in Akron, Ohio, temporarily halted the merger, which was set to take place on Jan. 1, pending a hearing. Four UTU members late last year filed a lawsuit seeking to halt the merger. The court recently extended the temporary restraining order until Feb. 8 so the parties can explore ways to resolve the dispute.

The merger was "boxed in secrecy and wrapped in a deception that would disenfranchise the craft and general-committee autonomy so cherished by our members," said Futhey in a statement responding to the board members' letters. "I was elected to protect our union's cherished craft autonomy and this administration will not retreat from its obligations to the membership."

In June 2007, UTU's board unanimously endorsed a plan to merge with SMWIA and form the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation (SMART) Workers. Futhey, who in September was elected international president to succeed the retiring Paul Thompson, would serve as president of SMART's transportation division if the merger occurs.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 1/7/2008