UTU evicted in Nebraska

Due to its non-affiliate status with the national AFL-CIO, United Transportation Union representatives were evicted from their offices at the Western Nebraska Central Labor Council's headquarters in Alliance, Neb.

The AFL-CIO affiliated unions comprising the Western Nebraska Central Labor Council voted unanimously on February 20 to adopt a motion which gives UTU representatives 30-days notice to vacate the CLC's office building. The motion also forces a UTU officer to resign his elected position as Treasurer of the Western Nebraska CLC.

"This was not a personal vendetta, but legally, the UTU could not belong to the CLC or hold elected office because they must be a member of the national AFL-CIO," said Mike Thiellen, Local Chairman of BLE Division 622 (Alliance, Neb.). "We felt it was wrong that they were allowed to have an office here when they were not affiliated with the AFL-CIO."

BLE International President Don M. Hahs expressed his appreciation for the work done by the BLE, AFL-CIO affiliates, and the Nebraska State AFL-CIO in bringing the situation to a conclusion.

According to Ken Mass, President of the Nebraska State AFL-CIO, the actions taken by the Western Nebraska CLC were "above the board and legal."

"When the national UTU pulled out of the AFL-CIO, UTU locals in Nebraska were not allowed to belong to the State Fed or Central bodies," said Mass, noting that members of non-affiliated unions are banned from holding elected office in the AFL-CIO. "Along those same lines, only AFL-CIO affiliates can use AFL-CIO facilities or meeting space."

The UTU was asked to disaffiliate from the Nebraska State AFL-CIO in March of 2000 when the UTU International disaffiliated from the AFL-CIO. At that time, Mass advised UTU's Nebraska state leaders to contact their International officers and ask them to reconsider their decision to disaffiliate.

As a result of its disaffiliation, and the action taken by the Western Nebraska CLC, the UTU will be deprived of many of the benefits of belonging to the AFL-CIO. For example, UTU is banned from participation in the Nebraska State AFL-CIO Railroaders Convention, a regular meeting where representatives of railroad unions discuss work rules and safety issues in their state. In addition, UTU is banned from the Nebraska State AFL-CIO Constitutional Meetings, where policy is made, and from the Nebraska State AFL-CIO Endorsement Commission Meetings, where unions endorse candidates for national and state office and vote on policy decisions that impact the lives of working men and women.

"UTU members should speak out and encourage their leadership to get back in the House of Labor," Brother Thiellen said. "We should be spending our resources on a good contract or safety issues instead of fighting a rogue union."

Thiellen and Mark Hare, President of BLE Division 622 (Alliance, Neb.), said they will offer a solution to UTU members so they can remain affiliated with the AFL-CIO.

"We plan to extend them an offer to start a BLE train service division so they can be a part of the House of Labor," Thiellen said.

Mike Thiellen


2002 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers