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BMWE courting two merger partners after IBB reenters picture

While merger negotiations with United Steelworkers of America (USWA) have cooled, a potential marriage with International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers and Helpers (IBB) again is heating up for Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes.
Although an IBB merger was shot down by 55 percent of BMWE members in September 2001, Members Against an Unnecessary Grand Lodge Dues Increase (MAD) — a committee comprising more than 50 BMWE members — last month petitioned President Mac Fleming to reopen negotiations with IBB, which represents about 150,000 American and Canadian skilled tradesmen in railroading, manufacturing, stove/metal, shipbuilding/repair, cement and construction.
MAD members in early May informally met with IBB officials, who offered to amend the initial merger agreement to guarantee "essential and necessary" operational funding for BMWE; exempt BMWE secretary/treasurers from paying dues; and guarantee that BMWE lodges with fewer than 35 members wouldn't be disbanded.
Fleming received a letter dated May 10 from IBB International President Charles Jones, who reiterated that IBB still was interested in a merger, was prepared to address all issues discussed with MAD, and was in good financial health, meaning the union didn't "need nor want [BMWE] to increase their dues as part of the merger process," according to a news item on BMWE's Web site.
Fleming and other BMWE officers then decided the union's original merger committee would meet with IBB officials to negotiate changes to the previous tentative agreement.
"Obviously, there are numerous advantages for the BMWE membership by returning to the bargaining table with the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers," said Fleming in a May 17 letter to members. "I know that some will disagree, particularly those who opposed the merger. However … this is a different agreement, one that provides substantial changes and increased benefits for the membership over the proposed merger agreement that was narrowly lost in the referendum vote in 2001."
Meanwhile, a BMWE committee met with USWA representatives in mid-April, at which time the steelworkers union declined to further pursue a merger until it received clarifications of BMWE’s financial structure.
BMWE furnished the information, and since has been awaiting USWA's response.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 6/11/2002