The Sheet Metal Workers’ International Association (SMWIA) and the United Transportation Union (UTU) recently announced plans to merge into a new 230,000-member union called the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART). Currently, the UTU has a membership of 81,000 members; while the SMWIA has some 150,000 active members.

On June 13, the General Executive Council of the SMWIA approved the merger. Under the SMWIA constitution, SMWIA membership ratification was not required for this merger. The UTU board of directors voted unanimously June 11 to put the merger before the UTU membership for ratification. If ratified, the merger would become effective Jan. 1, 2008. Details of the membership ratification process have not been finalized.

Under the proposed merger agreement, no UTU general committee of adjustment, local, or legislative board will be closed as a result of this merger, nor will any general committee or local lose its jurisdiction.

The proposed merger would create, within SMART, a Transportation Division, whose senior officers would be those elected at the UTU quadrennial convention in August in Hollywood, Fla. The officers would have the same duties of international president, assistant president, general secretary and treasurer, national legislative director, and international vice president as they do under the UTU constitution.

SMWIA President Mike Sullivan shares a special bond with the UTU, in that he is president of the Eugene V. Debs Foundation. Debs helped to organize one UTU predecessor union (the Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen) and was an officer of another UTU predecessor (the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen and Enginemen). The UTU was created on Jan. 1, 1969, through the merger of the Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen (BRT), the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen and Enginemen, the Switchmen’s Union of North America, and the Order of Railway Conductors and Brakemen. Subsequently, the Railroad Yardmasters of America affiliated with the UTU. UTU’s bus members trace their history to the BRT. In recent years, commercial aviation employees have chosen to affiliate with the UTU. The SMWIA, representing members of the nation’s building trades, production workers, and rail and shipyard employees, traces its roots to 1887, with rail shop workers having affiliated with the SMWIA early in the 20th century. “The SMWIA is all about representing people and delivering better wages, benefits and working conditions,” Sullivan said. “SMART will reflect the community of interest and philosophy that are shared by the UTU and the SMWIA,” Sullivan said.

Publication date: 07/30/2007