Vast majority of UTU members approve BLE merger (10/30/2001)


United Transportation Union Oct. 29 announced its members approved the proposed Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers merger by a nearly 6-to-1 margin.

American Arbitration Association — hired by BLE to print, mail and count new merger ballots, which BLE expects members to return by Dec. 10 — counted and certified UTU's ballot count of 23,368 in favor and 4,146 against (UTU members submitted ballots Sept. 17).

A lawsuit filed by three BLE members, seeking to halt BLE's balloting process, recently was dropped, enabling BLE to seek a re-vote and UTU to release its vote count.

"This vote proves that the UTU rank-and-file overwhelmingly supports this merger," said UTU International President Byron Boyd Jr. in a prepared statement. "A merged UTU-BLE will strengthen our bargaining position and prevent the carriers from driving a wedge between operating employees that leads to a race for the bottom."

If approved, the merger — with a target date of Jan. 1, 2002 — would create a 185,000-member union that would act as a bargaining agent for all unionized rail operating employees in the United States and Canada, as well as U.S. yardmasters, Canadian rail-traffic controllers, and other rail, bus, air and mass transit workers in both countries.

Source: Progressive Railroading Daily News