CLEVELAND — United Transportation Union Assistant President Paul C. Thompson has assumed the duties of the office of president of the UTU following the March 2 decision of the UTU International Executive Board to suspend from office President Byron A. Boyd Jr. The UTU Constitution provides for Thompson’s elevation.

The International Executive Board found Boyd guilty of violating the UTU Constitution and ordered he be “suspended” from office “without wages” and “for the duration of your current term.” The board found Boyd guilty of violating the UTU Constitution with regard to hiring and directing of UTU employee Ralph Dennis, who pleaded guilty in federal court to charges of racketeering, fraud, bribery and embezzlement. Dennis awaits sentencing.

The board also ruled Boyd’s suspension “will automatically be revoked” and that Boyd would be reinstated with all lost wages if he is found not guilty of federal criminal charges currently pending in Houston, Texas, or if the charges are dismissed. That trial is scheduled to begin March 22.

Separately, UTU General Secretary and Treasurer Dan Johnson was found by the International Executive Board “not guilty” of charges of violating the UTU Constitution and was specifically exonerated.

“It is with heavy heart that I assume the duties of president,” Thompson said. “Byron Boyd’s vision at the negotiating table gained for our members unprecedented job security and an improved standard of living. This was accomplished in the face of Republican control of the House, Senate and White House, which has emboldened employers elsewhere to cut employment, wages and health care.

“My first action upon taking the office,” Thompson said, “was to reach out to former presidents Al Chesser and Tom DuBose. Each pledged his advice and support during this very difficult period. I shall be calling upon them frequently as we begin a healing process and continue our leadership role among other organizations.

“At this difficult moment in our history, be assured I will dedicate all my energies to maintain this union as one of the strongest. We should not forget it was the UTU that led the successful fight to increase Railroad Retirement benefits, provide emergency funding for Amtrak and federal dollars for bus operator training,” Thompson said. “The UTU won job protection in the face of carrier implementation of new technology. The UTU negotiated trip rates, which ended the two-tier wage system, put to bed forever carrier attempts to increase the basic day, and provided members with predictable pay checks with fewer computational errors,” Thompson said. “And the UTU negotiated some of the best bus operator and bus mechanic contracts out there.”

General Secretary and Treasurer Dan Johnson said that Thompson, a locomotive engineer, “is among the UTU’s strongest advocates for preserving craft autonomy. He has been a key and effective member of the national negotiating team and one always willing to assist other officers in preparing for difficult grievance and arbitration proceedings.”

Source: UTU