The United Transportation Union was formed in 1969 with the merger of four transportation-related unions: Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen (BRT), Order of Railway Conductors and Brakemen (ORC&B), Switchmen’s Union of North America (SUNA), and Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen and Engineers (BLF&E).
The General Committee of Adjustment GO-001, headquartered in Springfield, Missouri, represents workers employed by Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad Company. The Springfield office represents 16 locals of former Frisco and Sand Springs trainmen and enginemen in seven states. In addition, the general chairman of GO-001, (currently Robert Kerley) who resides in Springfield, oversees offices in St. Paul, Minnesota; Spokane, Washington; and Wichita Falls, Texas. These offices together represent 28 locals in seven states.
In 1926, Congress passed the Railway Labor Act, which regulates relations between railway workers and carriers. Thus, the federal government plays a considerable role in the relations between workers, unions, and companies.
In 1959, carriers gave notice they were going to renegotiate contracts with the national BLF&E. They contended that there was no need for the fireman position on train crews since engines changed from steam to diesel. In addition, they called for the elimination of one crew member. The BLF&E contested the carriers’ wishes. They were concerned not only about the loss of thousands of jobs, but also about the safety of the crew. By 1960, the negotiations were at impasse, and President Eisenhower called for a study to be made. In 1962, the Presidential Railroad Commission issued a report that agreed with the railroads that there were too many crew members on trains. Again the union vigorously objected. However, in 1963 Congress passed Public Law 88-108, and Arbitration Board 282 issued an award which supported the railroads, ending the dispute.
After the award went into effect on March 2, 1964, thousands of firemen lost their jobs. The BLF&E and BRT continued to fight for the reestablishment of the fireman position. They initiated surveys and studies of the impact that Award 282 had on safety, health, and welfare of crew members and on the efficiency of the train yards. Between 1964 and 1967, accidents on U.S. railroads increased by fifty percent. The BLF&E was successful, and on March 30, 1966 the award lost its effect. In 1972, a National Manning Agreement was reached which protected train crew positions. In 1985, railroads were allowed to eliminate the fireman position only through attrition, although must-fill fireman positions still exist.
The bulk of the collection contains records related to the dispute and negotiations surrounding arbitration award 282.
See the collection's finding aid for more information.