UTU withdraws from AFL-CIO

In pulling out of the AFL-CIO on March 15, the UTU took another step toward fulfilling President Charles Little's campaign promises of last year and set the stage for future attempts to destroy the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers.

In an August 27, 1999, UTU news release, the UTU President boasted that, "If we are not successful at the NMB, we will take on the BLE on the Union Pacific Railroad anyway That's going to be our first target. After that we'll do a few carriers at a time."

Taking these campaign promises into consideration, along with the facts that UTU lost the National Mediation Board decision of February 29 and pulled out of the AFL-CIO two weeks later, it can only be assumed that UTU's next step will be an all-out attempt to destroy the BLE.

In addition, UTU claims it disaffiliated from the AFL-CIO to avoid discretionary financial sanctions adopted by the AFL-CIO Executive Council in February. These sanctions apply to unions in violation of the "no raiding" clause, or Article XX, of the AFL-CIO constitution.

These sanctions would force the UTU to compensate the BLE for its expenses in pursuing the Article XX process, its lost dues or other income foregone, or its costs incurred as a result of the violation.

In this case, the BLE spent a substantial sum of money defending itself as a result of the UTU's Jan. 12, 1998, application, which sought to combine all operating employees into a single craft and force representation elections.

"Pulling out of the AFL-CIO is detrimental to the rank-and-file members of the UTU," BLE President Edward Dubroski said. "It is ironic that UTU leaders parrot their organization's slogan, 'progress through unity,' yet they willfully withdrew from the AFL-CIO, the very organization that exists to promote unity and harmony among all of organized labor."

Dubroski also pointed out the contrast between the long-standing UTU slogan, "progress through unity," with its latest catch phrase, "the power of one."

"On the one hand, they preach harmony and unity with other labor organizations, but on the other hand, they're promoting a 'power of one' campaign," Dubroski said. "I am of the belief that the power of many is much stronger than the 'power of one.' And now that's what the UTU is - one union, outside the House of Labor."

AFL-CIO President John Sweeney echoed Dubroski's comments, and urged UTU leadership to reconsider.

"Working men and women nationwide clearly have a stronger voice when they are united," Sweeney said. "The leadership of (the UTU) has attempted to destroy another AFL-CIO union's bargaining rights at Union Pacific and take away members from that union - a direct violation of the AFL-CIO constitution."

In February of 1998, impartial AFL-CIO umpire Paul Weiler ruled that the UTU's NMB application was a violation of Article XX, and subsequent UTU appeals were denied. In other words, UTU has been in non-compliance with Article XX for more than two years. In addition, UTU has been under full sanctions by the AFL-CIO since July of 1999, and UTU leaders have made no attempts to come back into compliance during that time. UTU leaders ignored repeated requests from the AFL-CIO to remove its application from the NMB, which would have resulted in the UTU coming back into compliance and having the sanctions removed.

BLE requested these sanctions be placed on the UTU in a February 24 letter to AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Richard Trumka. UTU pulled out of the AFL-CIO on March 15, just one day before sanctions could have been imposed, according to the AFL-CIO constitution.

This is not the first time the UTU has pulled itself out of the AFL-CIO.

It withdrew voluntarily for three years beginning in 1986, during which time it attempted to raid BLE members on the Norfolk Southern.

After convincing BLE victories in UTU-forced representation elections, the UTU quietly returned to the AFL-CIO in 1989.

2000 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers