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Rail News: Labor

Sheet metal workers union blesses proposed UTU merger


The Sheet Metal Workers International Association’s (SMWIA) general executive council recently approved the union’s proposed merger with the United Transportation Union (UTU).

SMWIA’s constitution doesn’t require members to ratify a merger agreement, but UTU’s constitution does. So, UTU officials plan soon to begin the ratification process.

SMWIA, which represents 150,000 workers, and the UTU, which represents 80,000 workers, including 46,000 in the rail industry, plan to merge and form the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART) on or about Jan. 1, 2008.

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

When the UTU was formed in 1969 through the merger of four rail labor unions, there were 71 major railroads; today, there are five Class Is, providing the railroads more bargaining leverage than they’ve ever had, according to the UTU. The merger would provide the UTU, and SMART as a whole, more bargaining strength, UTU officials believe.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 6/20/2007