An arbitrator has ruled that a merger between the UTU and the Sheet Metal Workers International Association (SMWIA) be implemented and that the presidents of the two unions – or their designees — meet to decide how the implementation is to proceed.
Arbitrator Michael H. Gottesman said the merger agreement to create the Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation (SMART) Workers Union is an enforceable agreement. Gottesman was named by AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka to decide the question of enforceability after binding arbitration was ordered by Federal District Court Judge John Bates.
Gottesman acknowledged that there is pending before Judge Bates another merger related case – a complaint by several UTU members that Titles I and V of the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRDA) were violated. When Judge Bates ordered binding arbitration to determine if the UTU-SMWIA merger agreement is enforceable, he said the LMRDA claims were beyond the purview of the arbitrator, and that he would decide those claims following the outcome of the arbitration.
Although the SMWIA asked Gottesman to allow the SMWIA to, in Gottesman’s words, “effectively micromanage the implementation of the merger, complete with timelines and very detailed instructions for the behavior of UTU officials,” Gottesman denied the request.
Ruled Gottesman: “It is far better that the parties decide how to implement the merger than to have an arbitrator do so.” Accordingly, the award simply directs the presidents of UTU and SMWIA (or their designees) to meet “to discuss any and all issues pertinent to implementation of the merger … and to continue meeting on a regular basis until all such matters have been resolved.”
HOLLYWOOD, Fla. – Mike Futhey was elected to his second four-year term as president of the United Transportation Union Aug. 8 during the UTU’s 11th quadrennial convention here.
Futhey was re-elected by a vote of 453-34 against challenger Scott Cole, delegate from UTU Local 278.
Also re-elected Aug. 8 — by acclamation — were Assistant President Arty Martin, General Secretary & Treasurer Kim Thompson and National Legislative Director James Stem.
Election results for Aug. 9 include:
* Robert Kerley, Dave Wier, John Previsich and Delbert Strunk were all returned by acclamation as International vice presidents.
In other International vice president elections:
* Paul Tibbit defeated John Babler, 371-117.
* John Lesniewski defeated J.R. “Jim” Cumby, 420-68.
* Bonnie Morr defeated Calvin Studivant, 274-213.
Additionally, Alternate National Legislative Director John Risch was re-elected, defeating Jay Seegmiller, 378-105.
* Calvin Studivant was elected alternate vice president-east, Bus Department, by acclamation.
* Brian Donald was elected alternate vice president- west, Bus Department, with 337 votes, defeating Adhi Reddy (75 votes) and Robert Gonzalez (74 votes).
* Larry Barrilleaux, R. W. “Red” Dare, John England, Troy Johnson, Doyle Turner and Daniel Young were elected alternate vice presidents, receiving a majority of votes (and more than 50 percent of ballots) among nine candidates for six alternate vice president positions. Defeated were Carl Farnie, Kevin King and Charles Piland.
* Dale Barnett was elected “Engine Service Member” on the Board of Appeals, defeating Daniel O’Connell, 369-116.
* Donald Seyer was elected, by acclamation, “Road Service (Train Service) Member” on the Board of Appeals.
* Dale Welch was elected, by acclamation, “Yard Service (Train Service) Member” on the Board of Appeals.
* Dirk Sampson was elected, by acclamation, “Commuter Authority Member” on the Board of Appeals.
* Alvy Hughes was elected “Bus Department Member” on the Board of Appeals, defeating Adhi Reddy, 379-106.
* Steve Dawson, Mike Anderson, Steven Mavity, George Millward and Robert Resendez were elected, by acclamation, to the Executive Board. Phil Craig defeated Harry Garvin, 346-140, in election for alternate to the Executive Board.
Terms of elected officers and alternates begin Jan. 1, 2012.
Per an arbitrator’s ruling in the pending litigation and arbitration of whether the merger agreement between the UTU and the Sheet Metal Workers International Association (SMWIA) is an enforceable agreement, a parallel election is being held for officers of the Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation (SMART) Workers Union.
Each of those elected Aug. 8-10 to a UTU position was also elected to the same-named position in SMART.
As to the parallel SMART election, Arbitrator Michael Gottesman required that “if SMWIA so requests,” the UTU convention will hold separate elections for officers of UTU and of SMART. SMWIA General President Joe Nigro has so requested. Accordingly, after nominations for each UTU officer position are closed and the election completed, nominations and elections for the corresponding SMART officer positions are being opened.
Arbitrator Gottesman said the required vote on SMART-officer positions should in no way suggest he has reached a decision.
The holding of the convention and procedures for election are provided for in the UTU Constitution. It is available for viewing by clicking on the following link:
A decision by an arbitrator to determine whether the merger agreement between the UTU and the Sheet Metal Workers International Association is an enforceable agreement is not expected before September.
The UTU and the SMWIA made presentations before arbitrator Michael H. Gottesman in early and mid-June. Briefs by both sides are to be delivered to Gottesman July 29.
Gottesman was named to arbitrate the dispute by AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka following a March 4 ruling of Federal District Court Judge John Bates.
Judge Bates, in his March 4 ruling, said a separate action by several UTU members challenging the validity of the merger is not within the arbitrator’s jurisdiction and he would delay a ruling on that complaint pending the outcome of the arbitration.
Arbitrator Michael H. Gottesman will hear presentations by the UTU and the Sheet Metal Workers International Association during five days of arbitration in June to determine whether the merger agreement between the UTU and the SMIWA is an enforceable agreement.
Gottesman, a law professor at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., was named to arbitrate the dispute by AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka following a March 4 ruling of Federal District Court Judge John Bates.
The choice of Gottesman was jointly approved by UTU International President Mike Futhey and SMWIA National President Mike Sullivan.
Judge Bates, in his March 4 ruling, said a separate action brought by several UTU members challenging the validity of the merger — alleging violations of Titles I and V or the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act — is not within the arbitrator’s jurisdiction and that he would delay a ruling on that complaint pending the outcome of the arbitration.
Gottesman will hear evidence from each organization June 7-9 and June 14-15. There is no deadline on his issuing a ruling.
Pursuant to a March 4 ruling of a federal district court judge, an arbitrator has been named to determine whether the merger agreement between the UTU and the Sheet Metal Workers International Association (SMWIA) is an enforceable agreement.
Georgetown University law professor Michael H. Gottesman has been named by AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka as the arbitrator — a choice approved jointly by UTU International President Mike Futhey and SMWIA National President Mike Sullivan.
In his March 4 ruling, Federal Judge John Bates said a separate action brought by several UTU members, challenging the validity of the merger — alleging violations of Titles I and V or the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act — is not within the arbitrator’s jurisdiction and that he would delay a ruling on that complaint pending the outcome of the arbitration.
Arbitrator Gottesman earned an undergraduate degree at the University of Chicago and his law degree from Yale University.
He teaches labor law, constitutional law and civil rights at Georgetown University.
Gottesman held an appointment from President Jimmy Carter to review hundreds of candidates for federal court vacancies, and has published numerous articles for law journals. His latest article, “The Role of Labor in the 21st Century,” will be published later this year by the Columbia University Law Review.
As matters develop, further information will be posted at www.utu.org.
WASHINGTON — Late Friday, March 4, U.S. District Court Judge John Bates issued several rulings regarding the pending cases regarding the UTU and the Sheet Metal Workers International Association — SMWIA v. UTU and Murphy et al. v. SMWIA.
Initially, Judge Bates granted the motion to consolidate the cases before him.
He also ruled that the claims regarding whether the merger ever took place, as well as other merger related claims, should go before an arbitrator to decide, and that he could make no ruling on those issues.
With regard to the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRDA) Title I and Title V claims concerning the validity of the merger, Judge Bates found that those were not within the arbitrator’s jurisdiction and would remain with him.
However, he ruled that he will hold those claims in abeyance pending the outcome of the arbitration.
Judge Bates also granted the individual UTU members’ motion to intervene with regard to the LMRDA claims.
As matters develop, further information will be posted at www.utu.org.
The National Railway Labor Conference (NRLC), in an April 1 letter to the Sheet Metal Workers International Association and its General President Mike Sullivan, has recognized the requirements of status quo under the Railway Labor Act and said all carriers will continue remitting UTU member dues to the UTU.
“The deduction and remittance of dues are governed by the requirements of Section 2, Eleventh of the Railway Labor Act [which] requires railroads to deduct and remit dues in accordance with union security provisions contained in collective bargaining agreements and written authorizations from individual employees authorizing the deduction of dues from their pay,” said the NRLC.
In addition, said the NRLC, the carriers recognize that there is additional merger-related litigation pending in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
SAN FRANCISCO — In response to UTU International President Mike Futhey announcing the flawed merger attempt with the Sheet Metal Workers International Association “dead,” some 800 UTU members at a western regional meeting here July 8 responded with thunderous applause, foot-stomping, cheering and whistling.
“There will not be a merger today. There will not be a merger tomorrow. There will never be a merger with the Sheet Metal Workers,” Futhey told the loudly supportive International vice presidents, general chairpersons, state legislative directors, delegates, local officers and leaders in training while delivering his state of the union message.
Futhey described 18 painful months of frustrating talks with the Sheet Metal Workers International Association (SMWIA) leadership, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in court costs incurred as a result of the flawed merger that was initiated by a previous administration.
Implementation of the merger was halted by a federal district court in December 2007, prior to Futhey taking office.
In issuing, first, a temporary restraining order against the merger, and then a preliminary injunction, the federal court ruled that the UTU membership had not been permitted an informed vote when the merger question first was put out for ratification in mid-2007.
If the merger were to be restarted, said Federal Judge John Adams, a constitution for the merged organizations would have to be written and then submitted to the UTU membership for ratification — a process that was ignored when the initial merger ballot was sent to the membership in 2007 by a previous administration.
Among crucial facts withheld from the membership was that UTU’s cherished craft autonomy would be eliminated upon implementation of the merger.
In an attempt to lawfully restart the merger process — as suggested by the federal court — Futhey sought to engage the SMWIA to write the constitution that would govern a merged SMWIA and UTU.
“I have gone to the SMWIA time and time again to put a constitution together and protect the interests of UTU members,” Futhey said. “I met a stone wall each time.” He said the UTU’s insistence that craft autonomy be preserved in any merger was met by a SMWIA response that craft autonomy “can’t be accepted.”
Futhey said that when he took the UTU Board of Directors to a meeting with the SMWIA leadership in Washington — asking, “What will it take to put the constitution together” — the UTU was again rebuffed. The UTU board “overwhelmingly” said, “let’s walk away,” Futhey reported.
The federal court injunction against the merger is currently on appeal before the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, with no time limit on when a decision might be reported out.
UTU: A UNION MOVING FORWARD
Futhey, in his state of the union message, said that in the 18 months since his administration has taken office, the finances, organizing efforts and image of the UTU have improved markedly.
The balance of the UTU general fund has almost doubled over the past 18 months, Futhey said, while the UTU Insurance Association surplus has climbed to $23 million, the Discipline Income Protection Plan is back in the black, the strike fund has grown by 45 percent, and necessary funds will be available for the 11th quadrennial convention in 2011.
Futhey reported that more than 300 pilots and flight attendants employed by Great Lakes Airlines have voted to be represented by the UTU; that more than 80 percent of some 110 pilots with Lynx Aviation have signed authorization cards seeking UTU representation; and the UTU is working to organize an even larger airline.
Increased organizing among bus-industry employees is further improving the UTU’s image — especially within the AFL-CIO — as a transportation union “moving forward,” Futhey said.
The UTU especially has gained stature among other transportation unions as a result of President Obama nominating two UTU officials for senior federal agency leadership roles, Futhey said.
Former UTU Illinois State Legislative Director Joe Szabo was confirmed by the Senate as the nation’s federal railroad administrator, and UTU Associate General Counsel Dan Elliott was nominated by President Obama July 7 to be chairman of the U.S. Surface Transportation Board.
COLLABORATING WITH TRANSPORTATION LABOR
The UTU, Futhey said, also worked jointly with other transportation unions on behalf of successful Senate confirmation of former Association of Flight Attendants President Linda Puchala to be a member of the National Mediation Board, and former Air Line Pilots Association President Randy Babbitt to be federal aviation administrator.
The UTU PAC is essential to gaining labor- and UTU-friendly legislation, Futhey said, pointing to efforts underway to achieve new bus- and airline-safety legislation, and passage last year of the most comprehensive rail safety bill in more than a generation.
“The [rail safety] bill goes farther than we wanted [in some respects] and we may need further legislation to fix what wasn’t contemplated,” he said. And, once again, the UTU PAC will play a crucial role in that effort, Futhey said.
MESSAGE FOR CARRIERS
Futhey also had a message for carriers seeking unilaterally to change labor contracts using elements of the safety bill as an excuse, rather than negotiate changes as contemplated by the legislation. “We will defend our contracts,” Futhey said.
He also said the UTU would “not tolerate” carrier intimidation and harassment of members, and is moving on multiple fronts — in collaboration with the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen — to ensure a minimum of two crew members on all trains, including switching operations in conventional and, especially, remote control modes.
UPCOMING SECTION 6 NOTICES
Futhey said that in advance of Railway Labor Act Section 6 notices being served in November — to begin a new round of national rail negotiations on wages, benefits and working conditions — UTU members will soon be asked for contract-change suggestions, and that a draft of Section 6 demands will be prepared for final determination in October by the autonomous UTU Association of General Chairpersons.
In spite of a federal court ruling Dec. 27 that UTU members were provided insufficient — and even misleading — information regarding the proposed merger with the Sheet Metal Workers’ union, seven current members of the UTU Board of Directors demanded in a letter to me Jan. 3 that I nonetheless support the merger and instruct the UTU Law Department to seek to overturn the court’s ruling.
In fact, the court’s ruling was supported by declarations from a majority of the previous board of directors who had voted to put the merger to a membership vote.
Now, seven current board members support the shotgun wedding of the UTU with the SMWIA that was boxed in secrecy and wrapped in a deception that would disenfranchise the craft and general-committee autonomy so cherished by our members.
The members of the Board of Directors who signed this demand are: John Babler, Vic Baffoni, Roy Boling, James Brunkenhoefer, J.R. Cumby, John Fitzgerald and Tony Iannone.
I was elected to protect our union’s cherished craft autonomy and this administration will not retreat from its obligations to the membership.
Assistant President Arty Martin, General Secretary and Treasurer Kim Thompson and I support providing the membership with full disclosure before asking them to vote on something so crucial to the future of this union, their careers and their families.
We ask Brothers Babler, Baffoni, Boling, Brunkenhoefer, Cumby, Fitzgerald and Iannone to explain why they don’t want to provide the membership with full and honest disclosure before seeking a vote on a merger with another organization.
Each of them committed in recent weeks that they were putting politics behind them and would work with this administration for the benefit of the entire union.
What, other than politics, would cause them to take the position they have taken? Indeed, in the face of indisputable evidence — validated by a federal court — that the membership did not have sufficient and factual information on which to vote, these seven brothers want that vote to stand.
Rumors are being circulated that unless we merge now — and under the recently disclosed and previously hidden terms that would disenfranchise our craft autonomy — the union is in danger of financial collapse. That is not true.
Former International President Paul Thompson said emphatically at our regional meetings in Kansas City and Pittsburgh, and our convention in Hollywood, Fla., that the union is “debt free.”
In fact, convention cost controls left us with a $1-million surplus from the convention. Moreover, the reduction of International vice president positions will save an additional $1 million annually, the $2 dues increase initiated by Paul Thompson will add another $1.5 million annually, and other cost controls being instituted will further improve our financial strength. Contrary to misinformation, this union is solvent and does not require a shotgun wedding to survive.
Meanwhile, the federal district court in Akron, Ohio, has extended until Feb. 8 the temporary restraining order halting implementation of the merger with the SMWIA creating SMART.
The 30-day extension was agreed to by parties so that we might explore all possibilities of resolution consistent with the interests of our members. I intend to use this period to clear up the lack of information and misinformation that previously was provided our membership.
Following is the form letter that was submitted to me separately by each of the seven brothers: John Babler, Vic Baffoni, Roy Boling, James Brunkenhoefer, J.R. Cumby, John Fitzgerald and Tony Iannone:
January 3, 2008
Mr. M. B. Futhey, United Transportation Union
14600 Detroit Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44107
Reference: UTU/SMWIA Merger
Dear Sir and Brother,
I understand that the UTU Board of Directors unanimously endorsed the merger of United Transportation Union (UTU) and the Sheet Metal Workers International Association (SMWIA). I also understand that on January 4, 2008, UTU will be represented in court in Akron, OH regarding a restraining order to permanently prevent the merger of the aforementioned Unions as outlined in the Merger Agreement between the parties.
As a member of the current UTU Board of Directors, I request that UTU’s legal position at the hearing support the merger of UTU and SMWIA as mandated by the Board of Directors and membership via their recent ratification vote. Furthermore, I request that any change(s), internal, legal or otherwise, regarding the merger of the UTU with SMWIA must have the concurrence of the UTU Board of Directors as set forth in the UTU Constitution. As a member of the UTU Board of Directors I so hold.