Local 1597                 


Arbitrator rules in favor of SMART merger - 10/11/2011

An arbitrator has ruled that a merger between the UTU and the Sheet Metal Workers International Association (SMWIA) be implemented at the “earliest possible date” and that the presidents of the two unions – or their designees — meet within 15 days to decide how the implementation is to proceed.

Arbitrator Michael H. Gottesman said the UTU-ratified merger agreement to create the Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation (SMART) Workers Union is an enforceable agreement. Gottesman was named by AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka to decide the question of enforceability after binding arbitration was ordered by Federal District Court Judge John Bates.

Gottesman acknowledged that there is pending before Judge Bates another merger related case – a complaint by several UTU members that Titles I and V or the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRDA) were violated. When Judge Bates ordered binding arbitration to determine if the UTU-SMWIA merger agreement is enforceable, he said the LMRDA claims were beyond the purview of the arbitrator, and that he would decide those claims following the outcome of the arbitration.

Although the SMWIA asked Gottesman to allow the SMWIA to, in Gottesman’s words, “effectively micromanage the implementation of the merger, complete with timelines and very detailed instructions for the behavior of UTU officials,” Gottesman denied the request.   

Ruled Gottesman: “It is far better that the parties decide how to implement the merger than to have an arbitrator do so. Accordingly, the award simply directs the presidents of UTU and SMWIA (or their designees) to begin meeting not later than 15 days after the effective date of this award (Oct. 10) to discuss any and all issues pertinent to implementation of the merger … and to continue meeting on a regular basis until all such matters have been resolved.”

Record pay boost in UTU tentative rail pact - 6/11/2011


A 17-percent pay increase, retention of the $200 monthly cap on health care cost sharing, FRA certification pay, a faster process for new hires to reach full pay rates, and no rollback of the January 2011 cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) highlight the new five-year national rail agreement negotiated between the UTU and the National Carriers' Conference Committee (NCCC).

Railroads represented by the NCCC include BNSF, CSX, Kansas City Southern, Norfolk Southern, Union Pacific and many smaller railroads. Some 38,000 UTU members, including yardmasters, are covered by the tentative new agreement.

UTU District 1 general chairpersons voted unanimously June 2 to submit the tentative agreement to the membership for ratification under the craft autonomy provisions of the UTU Constitution. The general chairpersons also voted unanimously to recommend ratification.

General chairpersons now have until June 20 to submit questions regarding details of the tentative agreement. The questions will be submitted to the NCCC for answers. The agreed-upon questions and answers will become part of the tentative contract submitted to the membership for ratification.

Additionally, forums will be scheduled nationwide at which UTU International officers will brief members on the contract's details and respond to member questions. A ratification vote will be scheduled later.

"In the 41-year history of the UTU, this wage increase is the highest in excess of the current and projected Consumer Price Index," said UTU International President Mike Futhey. The Consumer Price Index, or CPI, is a barometer of prices for goods and services as measured by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

"Combined with the previous agreement this administration reached with the NCCC in January 2008, our members will realize a more than 40-percent increase in their base wages at the conclusion of this agreement, if it is ratified," Futhey said. "A UTU member earning $80,000 in 2007 will be earning about $112,000 on the same job by 2015."

The tentative agreement is retroactive to Jan. 1, 2010, and extends through Dec. 31, 2014. The contract provides that retroactive pay, commencing with the July 1, 2010, increase, will be made by the carriers within 60 days of the effective date of the final agreement.

The cap on employee health care cost contributions is a major provision of the tentative agreement. The $200 cap on monthly contributions compares with an average of more than $330 monthly paid by workers in other industries.

Without the negotiated $200 cap, and under provisions of current UTU agreements, UTU member health care cost contributions could soar to $355 monthly by 2015.

To retain the current $200 monthly cap, adjustments will be made to copayments to reflect more economical ways to purchase medicines and reduce plan costs.

A new annual deductible is capped at $200 per individual ($400 per family), and an out-of-pocket maximum of $1,000 per individual ($2,000 per family) can be reached only if family medical costs exceed $40,000, which statistically affects only 2 percent of members.

The national rail agreement's 5-year entry rates provision has been amended to 4 years. Individuals under the 5-year plan -- as of May 1 and until the effective date of the final agreement -- will receive a one-time $3,000 payment. Individuals on properties with modified service-scale rules will receive a one-time payment of $1,200. Individuals under entry-rate agreements that commence at 90 percent, and increase to 100 percent within 2 years, shall not receive a bonus payment.

Additionally, the tentative agreement provides that local agreements may be negotiated -- not subject to binding arbitration if the sides cannot agree -- for alternative compensation, compensated leave, compensation enhancement, and electronic bidding and bumping.

Yardmasters have essentially the same agreement, but with additional pay increases unique to their craft.

New Hires - 5/21/2011

The UTU is proud to welcome the addition of seventeen new members to Local 1597.

 Please help us welcome members:



 Ronald Morin       

 David Reese

 Kenneth Steinbrenner

 Robert Talchik

 Andres Tapia

 John Wantiez

 Scott Wilczak

 Aurelio Zavala

 William Zokal




Chris Alacala

Adan Diaz

Antoni Fiorentino

Joe Gallegos

Ed Garza

Julian Olivas

James Rezek

Tom Swade

Unsafe Conditions - 4/23/2010

If you see any unsafe conditions, an unsafe condition report should be filled out immediately and called in to 4099. The report can be handed to Jeff Votteler or any local representative.

Collection boxes for unsafe condition reports have been placed in each the East and West yards, the hump tower, crew board and South Chicago trailer. These (red) boxes have unsafe condition forms with them for your use. Please be sure to call 4099 after the form has been filled out.

Arbitration Results - 3/15/2010

On September 23 2009, the Awards for the arbitrations regarding the U-man Agreement and Rod Shimkus were heard. The results are finally in.  Good News!  Rod is coming back to work. Congratulations Rod!  Unfortunately, the U-man dispute was lost.


Welcome to the United Transportation Union Local 1597. The information contained on this site is to keep members informed of current labor issues.

Remember to attend your local meetings.
Your input is important!

Meetings are held on the third Tuesday of every month. The next scheduled meeting is Tuesday, March 19, 2013 at 7:00 p.m. at the Raday Lodge located at 3220 W. 145th St., Midlothian, IL.