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Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

UNITED TRANSPORTATION UNION

UNITED TRANSPORTATION UNION

The UNITED TRANSPORTATION UNION was formed in 1969 from 4 railroad unions, the most prominent of which was the Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen, headquartered in Cleveland for most of its history since its founding in 1883 by 8 brakemen of the Delaware & Hudson Railroad in Oneonta, NY. In 1899 the national headquarters (Grand Lodge) of the Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen moved to Cleveland and established itself in the American Trust Bldg. on PUBLIC SQUARE. In 1922 it moved to the newly erected Brotherhood of Railway Trainmen building at W. 9th St. and Superior, which it occupied until 1944, moving then to 666 Euclid Ave.

The brotherhood, representing both "roadmen" and "yardmen" within the industry, was organized primarily as a mutual-aid and benevolent society, and did not bargain collectively on behalf of its members until well into its existence. Like the other railroad brotherhoods, it was both a benevolent society and a trade union, relying on legislative lobbying for passage of favorable state and federal laws regulating the railroad industry. Locally, the brotherhood both influenced and was influenced by Cleveland political and economic affairs. Generally supportive of Democratic party candidates, it was well connected to the party through its one-time chief legal counsel, RAY T. MILLER.

During the post-World War II period, brotherhood membership peaked in 1956 with 217,000 trainmen in the U.S. and Canada. Fiercely independent for most of its history, the trainmen finally joined the newly merged AFL-CIO in 1957. Responding to the decline in the railroad industry in the 1960s, the brotherhood merged with the Switchmens Union of North America, the Order of Railway Conductors & Brakemen, and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen & Enginemen to form the United Transportation Union in 1969. Railroad Trainmen president Charles Luna assumed leadership of the newly merged organization of 230,000 members. In 1995 the United Transportation Union headquarters were located at 14600 Detroit Ave. in LAKEWOOD with a membership of 110,000.