October 22, 2014

Arbitrator rules in favor of SMART merger

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

Arbitrator Michael H. Gottesman said the 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 of 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 meet “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.”