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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

With IBB combination DOA, BMWE adopts never-say-never approach to future mergers


After Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes (BMWE) members Sept. 24 voted 52.5 percent against and 47.5 percent in favor of a merger with International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers and Helpers (IBB), BMWE officials spent the next several weeks evaluating what went right and what went wrong with the merger proposal.
The result? Union officials decided to accept the membership's decision and not attempt another vote.
"It would be arrogant and inappropriate to make another great expenditure of limited resources to try to change the result," said BMWE President Mac Fleming in an Oct. 12 prepared statement. "I fought in favor of the merger as I believed by joining forces with IBB, our membership would be provided with substantially more than we could provide them standing alone."
However, BMWE officials aren't entirely ruling out another merger attempt sometime in the future.
"This doesn't mean that there will never be another vote brought before the membership regarding the issue of BMWE merging with another union, including, perhaps, IBB," said Fleming. "A merger is critical for us, in order for BMWE to have the kind of clout we need to obtain good agreements and maintain decent benefits, especially in the United States."
A merged BMWE/IBB union would've represented about 150,000 American and Canadian skilled tradesmen in six industrial sectors: railroading, manufacturing, stove/metal, shipbuilding/repair, cement and construction.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 10/15/2001