AKRON, Ohio - Federal District Court Judge John R. Adams has issued an order extending until at least early May a temporary restraining order (TRO) against implementation of a merger of the Sheet Metal Workers International Association (SMWIA) with the United Transportation Union (UTU) to create the Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers Union (SMART).

The judge’s order said the TRO is extended “until 10 days after the court rules on the pending motion to intervene.”

The judge ordered that a hearing be held in his courtroom April 25 “regarding the motion of Paul Thompson et al. to intervene as party defendants herein.” Others joining Thompson as party to that motion - seeking immediate implementation of the merger - are UTU International officers James Brunkenhoefer, Roy Boling, Tony Iannone, J.R. Cumby, John Babler, John Fitzgerald, and Vic Baffoni.

Judge Adams previously ruled that UTU members had not been provided a SMART constitution, giving them sufficient information on which to make an informed decision, when they voted last year to approve the merger.

The federal court action was initiated by a group of UTU members, who successfully complained to the court that UTU members should have been provided - prior to the vote - with a copy of the SMART constitution into which the UTU constitution was to be inserted intact. The complaint was filed following allegations that UTU members were not made aware of conflicts between the two constitutions.

Some 140 UTU general committee, state legislative, and International officers overwhelmingly voiced support Jan. 30 for a cooperative process to resolve differences over the stalled merger.

The UTU officers urged that UTU International President Mike Futhey and SMWIA General President Mike Sullivan follow the federal court’s order - as well as recommendation of UTU counsel - that the two (Futhey and Sullivan) settle upon the text of a SMART constitution.

When that task, which may require arbitration of conflicts, is completed, the UTU membership would be provided a copy, and then asked to vote on ratifying the new constitution.

Futhey said, following that meeting of UTU officers in New Orleans, that, “It is my feeling that the memberships of both the UTU and the SMWIA are best served by having a proper constitution prepared and presented to members for a vote.”

Publication date: 02/25/2008