History of SMART-Transportation Division GO-953

We are General Committee of Adjustment 953 of SMART-Transportation Division (former UTU), headquartered in Topeka, KS. We are a broad-based, transportation labor union representing active and retired railroad workers in a 13-State area on the Union Pacific, Kyle, Nebraska Central, Wichita Terminal, and Portland Terminal Railroads. Our Committee is composed of 87 Local Chairpersons representing members from the railroad industry operating crafts and includes conductors, brakemen, switchmen, ticket collectors, ground service personnel, locomotive engineers, hostlers and workers in associated crafts.

 In 2019, GCA 953 began working with GCA 225 on a collaborative merger that would incorporate the former C&NW line with the Union Pacific's ED and PNW territories.  This consolidation became effective October 1, 2020, creating a strong, symbiotic Committee stretching from the Great Lakes to the Pacific Ocean.

Widely recognized as the leader among transportation labor unions, SMART- TD sets the pace in collective bargaining, and in efforts to improve safety and working conditions on the railroads.   SMART-Transportation Division has been successful in the past and continues to strive for progressive and innovative contracts that ensure excellent wages and benefits and a healthy pension system for those workers who have devoted their lives to service the railroad industry.

History of SMART- Transportation Division (formerly United Transportation Union)

In 2014 the first SMART General Convention was held in Las Vegas, NV, bringing to fruition a merger of the SMWIA (Sheet Metal Workers International Association) and the UTU (United Transportation Union). As stated by General President Joe Nigro at the close of the Convention:

"We closed the convention on Aug. 15 as one union. We are not divided and we will not let anything divide us. A house divided will fall and we will never go that way. We have a combined legacy of 270 years. We must build on what previous generations have passed to us by furthering our mission to make this union even stronger in servicing our members."

This built upon a legacy of strengthening mergers of the former United Transportation Union. In 1968 exploratory talks among the four brotherhoods’ interested in forming one transportation union proved fruitful and plans were formulated for merging of the four operation unions into a single organization to represent all four operating crafts.

In August of 1968, the union presidents announced that after nine months of planning, a tentative agreement had been reached on all phases of unity. It was further announced that the name of the new organization would be the United Transportation Union and the target date for establishing the UTU was Jan. 1, 1969.

In Chicago on Dec. 10, 1968, the tabulation of the voting revealed an overwhelming desire by the members of the four crafts to merge into a single union, and the United Transportation Union came into existence on Jan. 1, 1969.

Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen

The Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen, largest of the UTU’s predecessor unions, was founded in June of 1883 at Oneonta, N.Y., when eight brakemen crowded into D&H caboose No. 10 to change rail labor history.

At the time, rail workers earned a little more than $1.00 a day working one of the most dangerous jobs. An estimated 70 percent of all train crews could expect injury within five years. Realizing that passing the hat whenever a co-worker died was ineffective, rail workers formed a brotherhood to provide a benefit in case of death, at the time $300.00.

Begun as the Brotherhood of Railroad Brakemen, the BRT in 1889 changed its name to reflect its expansion into other crafts, with membership reaching out to include rail workers in 14 different trade classifications. Later, in 1933, the BRT organized interstate bus operators.

Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen and Enginemen

Lodge No. 1 of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen was organized by Joshua Leach and 10 Erie Railroad firemen at Port Jervis, N.Y., in 1873. The following year, delegates from 12 lodges met and formed the “BLF Insurance Association” to provide sickness and funeral benefits for locomotive firemen.

In 1906, BLF changed its name to Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen and Enginemen and joined in bargaining with the three other major railway unions.

In 1919, with 116,990 members, the BLF&E led the fight for an eight-hour day for rail workers, and in 1926 pressed successfully for passage of the Railway Labor Act.

Switchmen’s Union of North America

In 1870, switchmen employed on railroads in the Chicago area worked 12 hours a day, seven days a week, for $50.00. Helpless in bargaining with their employers individually, they banded together in August of that year to form the Switchmen’s Association.

In 1886, switchmen met in Chicago and formed the Switchmen’s Mutual Aid Association, but a lockout on the Chicago Northwestern Railroad and a disastrous strike in 1888 on the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad ended the Association in July 1894. Later that year, however, a meeting in Kansas City, Mo., led to the establishment of the Switchmen’s Union of North America.

Order of Railway Conductors and Brakemen

In the spring of 1868, T. J. “Tommie” Wright and a small band of Illinois Central Gulf conductors formed the first conductors’ union, known as “Division Number 1 Conductors’ Brotherhood” at Amboy, Illinois. Word spread quickly, and by November 1868, the union’s first convention was held in Columbus, Ohio, where conductors from the U.S. and Canada adopted the name “Order of Railway Conductors of America.”

In 1885, the ORC directed its leaders to aid in negotiating agreements with carriers, a revolutionary idea for the time. In 1890, the ORC adopted a strike clause and began a militant policy of fighting for the welfare of conductors.

In 1942, the Order of Sleeping Car Conductors amalgamated with the ORC, and in 1954 the organization was renamed the Order of Railroad Conductors and Brakemen to reflect its diverse membership.

International Association of Railroad Employees

Historically, exclusion and segregation characterized nearly every aspect of the lives of African-Americans, including their participation as members of organized rail labor. The International Association of Railroad Employees arose in response to this set of circumstances.

Among those represented by the IARE were conductors, trainmen, engineers, shop mechanics, porters and maintenance-of-way employees who, effective Sept. 1, 1970, found themselves welcomed into the fold of the nascent United Transportation Union.

Railroad Yardmasters of America

The Railroad Yardmasters of America (RYA), organized Dec. 2, 1918, in response to managerial abuses. The RYA voted in 1985 to affiliate with the UTU.

UTU-represented yardmasters today enjoy autonomy and craft preservation, as well as the protective advantages and strength associated with UTU membership