CLEVELAND - A federal judge has halted the merger of the United Transportation Union (UTU) and the Sheet Metal Workers International Association (SMWIA), finding that relevant terms of the proposed combination weren’t disclosed to members.

According to the Kansas City Star, U.S. District Judge John R. Adams of the Northern District of Ohio issued a preliminary injunction June 25 after ruling that the plaintiffs, UTU members opposed to the merger, were likely to win the case on its merits and would be irreparably harmed if the merger went through.

The UTU, headquartered in Cleveland and consisting of about 80,000 members, was formed by the merger of four rail unions in 1969. The proposed merger with the much larger SMWIA would have created a 230,000-member organization called the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail, and Transportation Workers, or SMART.

The combination was orchestrated by now-retired UTU President Paul Thompson, who introduced the merger proposal at the UTU’s regional meeting in Kansas City in June 2007.

According to theStar, UTU said it attempted to send ballots to the 68,000 members whose names were in its database. Just over 12,000 members voted from July 17, 2007, to Aug. 7, 2007, on the merger proposal. It was approved by 8,625 members.

The merger originally was scheduled to take effect January 1 of this year. But four members of the UTU challenged the merger, asserting that UTU members had not been given a copy of the constitution for the merged union and were not aware of conflicts between the existing constitutions for UTU and SMWIA.

Publication date:07/14/2008