|ONLINE VERSION||MAY 2000|
|UTU Withdraws from the AFL-CIO|
On March 15, United Transportation Union President Charles L. Little sent a letter to AFL-CIO President John J. Sweeney, declaring that the UTU was immediately disaffiliating from the AFL-CIO.
"We are extremely disappointed with the decision of the leadership of the UTU," said Sweeney in a statement issued the following day. "Their decision will prevent the 60,000 UTU members from having the support and solidarity of their 13 million union brothers and sisters." Sweeney urged the leadership of the UTU to reconsider their decision since working men and women nationwide clearly have a stronger voice when they are united.
Sweeney also noted that the leadership of the UTU "has forced its membership to leave the AFL-CIO on another instance - they disaffiliated in 1986 and reaffiliated in 1989."
In a letter sent to the leaders of the various groups affiliated with the AFL-CIO on March 17, Sweeney advised that "unless and until UTU does reverse this action, however, effective March 15 UTU and all of its affiliates are no longer affiliated with the AFL-CIO and its trade and industrial departments, state federations and central labor councils, and all officers of and delegates to these bodies who are UTU members many no longer remain in their AFL-CIO positions. Nor can UTU and its affiliates continue to exercise any rights or enjoy any protections under the AFL-CIO Constitution."
Sweeney went on to say that "President Little describes a number of circumstances that ostensibly justify UTU's disaffiliation, but the principal matter that apparently underlies this action is UTU's two-year long effort to represent a large, 8,000-member bargaining unit of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers at Union Pacific Railroad. This has been the first step of an admitted plan by UTU to continue to take over BLE's bargaining units through hostile raiding activity, threatening the viability of BLE itself. Of course, such a course is inimical to trade union solidarity and the Constitution and principles of the AFL-CIO.
"In January 1998 UTU filed a representation petition with the National Mediation Board to combine its 13,000-member unit at Union Pacific with the BLE unit and conduct a representation election in the consolidated unit. BLE filed a complaint against UTU under Article XX of the AFL-CIO Constitution. That case was held in abeyance while both organizations engaged in lengthy discussions concerning a merger. Unfortunately, those talks ended without agreement, and in May 1999 UTU renewed its NMB application and BLE renewed its Article XX claim.
"On February 29, 2000, the NMB dismissed UTU's application under the Railway Labor Act and UTU has filed a motion for reconsideration of that decision, which remains pending.
"Meanwhile, at its meeting on February 16, 2000, the Executive Council adopted a number of new policy statements under Article XX and Article XXI, including a statement setting forth both procedures for the longstanding provision in Article XX, Section 15 that confers upon the Executive Council the discretion to impose sanctions for non-compliance additional to those that automatically apply. This Council action reflected a consensus that had arisen in recent years that the customary sanctions are too often ineffective and that an orderly process should be provided for affiliates to seek Council consideration of additional sanctions, as the Constitution allows. The Council made this policy statement applicable to all pending cases, including instances of ongoing non-compliance, because the policy carries out the Council's existing and longstanding constitutional authority to impose further sanctions."
On February 24, BLE requested that the Council impose additional sanctions against UTU and AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Richard Trumka responded that this request would be processed under the new procedures following a 30-day period from their adoption as the policy statement indicated.
On March 27, legal counsel for the AFL-CIO wrote the National Mediation Board that the "AFL-CIO fully endorses the content of the statement filed by the" BLE on March 3, 2000, "opposing, on jurisdictional grounds, UTU's motion to the Board seeking 'reconsideration' of the Panel's decision" and continued for four pages to explain why the AFL-CIO was respectfully urging the Board to bring this case to closure and deny UTU's motion for reconsideration.