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Rail News Home Rail Industry Trends

12/11/2001



Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

BLE members trounce UTU merger proposal


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A vast majority of Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers members Dec. 7 rejected a proposed merger with United Transportation Union.
In a ballot count certified and released Dec. 10 by American Arbitration Association, 62 percent of BLE's active members voted 17,251 to 7,425 against forming a combined union that would've represented about 185,000 workers.
"[Members] have made it clear that this is not the right time and these are not the right conditions for a merger with UTU," said BLE International President Don Hahs in a prepared statement. "However, the BLE is prepared to continue working together with UTU members and leaders to improve working conditions for all operating crafts."
Hahs urged UTU International President Byron Boyd Jr. to accept the BLE vote and help build a relationship of trust between the unions "so that our members may dispose of the stigma of the last three years."
But Boyd claims UTU no longer will pursue a merger of all railroad operating unions — something UTU officials claim they've proposed for more than 25 years — and instead will follow through on previously announced plans to seek winner-take-all representation elections on each Class I, beginning with Kansas City Southern.
"There is no question in my mind that the result will be unification of the historical operating crafts and that the unification will be under the umbrella of the UTU," said Boyd. "No one should ever think otherwise."
UTU members Sept. 17 voted to approve the merger 23,368 to 4,146; the ballot count was released by the union Oct. 29.
BLE and UTU originally proposed a merger on April 9, 1998, but broke off negotiations a year later due to questions surrounding UTU's finances.
The unions again proposed a merger two years later on June 11, but encountered resistance from three BLE members, who in September won a lawsuit halting a merger ballot count.
The unions then in October agreed to destroy previously cast BLE votes, conduct a new BLE merger vote and enable the three BLE members to submit a written opposition statement with all mailed ballots.


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