Who is Railroad Workers United?

We are a diverse group of railroad workers, family members and retirees from throughout North America. We have members from all the rail crafts and all of the railroad unions. RWU also allows for "Solidarity Members" from different walks of life - mostly in rail related industries - who support our efforts.

 

RWU membership is open to all railroad workers, who are not managers or supervisory personnel,  in North America- - Canada, the US and Mexico.

 

Click Here to read our Annual Activity Reports. These are brief summaries of our activities and accomplishments in recent years.

 

Click on the map to see where our members, supporters and contacts are working.


RWU Steering Committee

The Railroad Workers United International Steering Committee (ISC) has evolved into a diverse group of railroad workers from coast to coast. TheSteering Committee has included lots of engineers and trainmen from the U.S., but also a trainman/engineer from Canada; a contract locomotive servicing worker from Chicago; a conductor from a non-union railroad in Wisconsin; a hostler/laborer from Chicago; a track worker from Ohio; an electrician from California; a machinist from New York; and car knockers from Chicago, Indiana, and Georgia.

Seniority among the current group ranges from 3 to 43 years. Crafts represented include: engineer, conductor, switchman, car inspector, hostler, and laborer. Over the years, the ranks of the ISC has been drawn from fellow workers from the following unions: Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen (BLET); Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees Division (BMWED); Industrial Workers of the World (IWW); International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW); International Association of Machinists (IAM); National Conference of Firemen & Oilers (NCFO); SMART (formerly the United Transportation Union - UTU); Teamster Canada Rail Conference (TCRC); and the Transportation Communications Union (TCU).

Members on the current Steering Committee work for a number of rail carriers including: Amtrak (AMTK), Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF), Canadian National (CN), Canadian Pacific (CP), CSX, Norfolk Southern (NS), Wisconsin & Southern (WSOR) and Union Pacific (UP).  These
members are drawn from eleven states/provinces: Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, Ontario, Washington and Wisconsin. (If you are interested, view the listings of previous Steering Committee members).

 

Current RWU Steering Committee

2016 - 2018

Ron Kaminkow: General Secretary Ron has served as the RWU Secretary and now as General Secretary since 2008, and currently heads up the RWU Newsletter Committee. Prior to hiring out as a brakeman with Conrail in 1996, he served as President of AFSCME Local 634 in Madison, WI. In 2005, Brother Ron helped to found Railroad Operating Crafts United (ROCU), an RWU predecessor. A former brakeman/conductor/engineer for Conrail and later NS in Chicago (UTU #168) and Elkhart, IN (UTU#194), Ron currently is working as an Amtrak engineer in Reno, NV where he is a member of BLET #51.  

Ron Kaminkow - General Secretary

Ron Kaminkow has served as the RWU General Secretary since 2008, and currently heads up the RWU Newsletter Committee. Prior to hiring out as a brakeman with Conrail in 1996, he served as President of AFSCME Local #634 in Madison, WI. In 2005, Brother Ron helped to found Railroad Operating Crafts United. A former brakeman, conductor and engineer for Conrail and later NS in Chicago (UTU #168) and Elkhart, IN (UTU#194), Ron currently is working as an Amtrak engineer in Reno, NV where he is a member of BLET #51, serving as the National Division Delegate.


Hugh Sawyer - Treasurer

Hugh was elected one of the original three Co-Chairs of RWU in 2008 and after a two-year hiatus from the Steering Committee, returned to that position in 2012. In 2014 he took on the Treasury position. He is the former President of BLET #316, NS in Atlanta, GA. A former Local Chairman, Hugh and his division have been instrumental in the struggle to win – and then preserve and protect -- one-member-one-vote officer elections in the BLET. Brother Hugh has served on the Steering Committee of Teamsters for a Democratic Union (TDU) and has been active in BLET national affairs.


John Wright - Organizer

This will be J.P.’s third term on the RWU Steering Committee. His second term 2012 - 2014 he served as the newly created position of Organizer. For 2014 - 2016 he served as Co-Chair, and now he has once again assumed the Organizer position.  Brother J.P. comes from a union family (CWA, IBEW and BRS) and has worked on the railroad for 15 years. He is a CSX extra board engineer, working various territories that radiate out of the Louisville, KY hub, formerly serving as Secretary-Treasurer for BLET #78. John formerly worked as a conductor and was a member of UTU #376 . In recent years, he has been elected to the Teamsters for a Democratic Union (TDU) Steering Committee.  John is a talented musician, singer, and song writer. (Click on his picture to go to the John Paul Wright YouTube page).


 

James Wallace - Recording Secretary

James Wallace is serving his third term on the Steering Committee after joining RWU in 2011 not long after hiring out on the railroad. He currently holds the position of Recording Secretary. Brother James is chairing the RWU Committee on Single Employee Crews and was appointed in December 2016 to be the RWU International Solidarity Liaison, the first member to hold the newly created post.  He currently works as a road conductor for the BNSF out of Lincoln, NE. and is a member of SMART Local #305.


Jen Wallis - ISC Co-Chair

Jen hired out with BNSF in 2004 and a few years later was a founding member of ROCU, then RWU. She works as a hostler in Seattle, WA and is a member of BLET #238. Jen recently won a whistleblower case in Federal Court against BNSF over a claim of retaliation for reporting a personal injury on the job. She wants to use her experience to assist other railroaders facing harassment and intimidation for reporting injuries or safety issues, and hopes to make the FRSA more able to hold the carriers accountable.  When she's not working, she enjoys hitting the trails, beaches, or open roads with her son, Arlo.


Ross Grooters - ISC Co-Chair

Ross has more than a decade with Union Pacific railroad, and currently works in Des Moines, IA as a locomotive engineer. This is his first term as Railroad Workers United Co-Chair.  He is a member of the BLET #778 in Des Moines, IA and serves his local as the Legislative Representative for the BLET Iowa State Legislative Board.  As a member leader with Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, a non-profit dedicated to putting people before profits, Ross' work is wide-ranging, and includes workers' justice issues such as stopping wage theft and promoting a $15/hr. minimum wage.  As a railroad worker, he follows in the footsteps of his grandfather who was employed as a Missouri Pacific car repair worker in Omaha, NE.


Jim Thomason - ISC Co-Chair

Prior to hiring with the railroad, Jim Thomason was a Union Carpenter and a Business Agent/Organizer for the Carpenters Union in Colorado. When work dried up, Jim moved his family to Minnesota and went to work in the iron ore mines where he worked in the various railroad crafts including MofW, Signal Maintainer, Carman, Conductor, and Engineer for a short-line railroad. After five years, Jim went to work for CN Railway where he has worked now for the last 6 years. Jim served as Local Chairman for the Conductors of SMART Local #1292 until recently relocating to Missisippi. Jim has a strong passion for helping out his fellow workers, which is what brought him to join RWU in 2015.


Andrew Weir - Trustee

Andrew Weir is currently the Vice General Chairman for the Teamster Canada Rail Conference (TCRC) CN Central CTY. He is also Local Chairperson Road Division #240; Safety Rep #240; and On-the-Job Trainer for Sarnia & Windsor. Andy hired out with CN Rail in 1988 and has been a union representative since 1997. This is his second term on the Steering Committee. He is married with two kids.


Paul Matchett

Paul Matchett - Steering Committee

Paul Matchett formerly worked in emergency services before hiring out with the railroad as a tie gang laborer for a contractor in Columbus, OH. Paul went on to become a track inspector for another contractor in Kentucky.  In July 2013, Paul hired on as a conductor for the Wisconsin & Southern Railroad (WSOR) in Janesville, WI.  Before the railroad, Paul had previous union experience with the Michigan State Employees Association (MSEA) Local #2. This is his second term on the RWU Steering Committee.


John Vitaska

John Vitaska - Steering Committee

John Vitaska joined RWU in 2012 at the third RWU Convention. This is his second term on the Steering Committee. John hired out with the Soo Line in 1991, working on a section gang. Later he transferred to the mechanical department where he has worked as a mechanical hostler/laborer ever since.  Brother John is 47 and has 24 years of service. He currently works for Canadian Pacific at the Bensenville yard in Chicago, IL. and is a member of the National Conference of Firemen & Oilers (NCFO) #395.


Cameron Slick - Trustee

Cameron Slick has been working as a conductor at Canadian Pacific in Minnesota for the past 2 years, and is a member of UTU #911 in St. Paul, MN.  Prior to that, Cameron worked as a conductor for Canadian National.  Before hiring out with the railroad, Cameron worked in the hospitality industry and was a member of UNITE HERE Local #17.  He is also a member of 15Now Minnesota.


Robert Hill - ISC Alternate

Robert assumes his fifth term on the Steering Committee, this time as an Alternate,  after serving his first term as one of the RWU Co-Chairs. He chaired the RWU Website Committee for a number of years, starting in 2009. Brother Robert hired out in 2001 as a conductor and joined his UTU local. He currently works as a BNSF engineer on the Seattle Subdivision out of Auburn, WA. and is currently the Alternate Legislative Rep for SMART Local #556 in Tacoma, WA. Since hiring out, Robert has been an active member of both the UTU (SMART) and the BLET (double-heading at times) in addition to his work with RWU.


Brian Clark - ISC Alternate

Brian Clark - ISC Alternate & Trustee

Brian Clark has been a carman at the CN Champaign, IL terminal for 2 years and a member of BRC/TCU/IAM #6608.  Prior to that, Brian worked as a bridge and track worker at CSX for 8 years where he was a member of the BMWED.  Before becoming a railroader, Brian worked in trucking and intermodal and was a member of the Teamsters in locals 710, 279, 135, and 26.  He is also a member of the Teamsters for a Democratic Union (TDU).


 

Alan Thompson – ISC Alternate

Alan is a 44-year veteran and current conductor on UPRR from former UTU Local #316 in Clinton, Iowa.  He's served 43 years as local Legislative Rep., over 30 as local Secretary, one term as Iowa State Legislative Board Secretary and Executive Committee member, twice served as delegate to the UTU's International Convention, created and organized the R.E.C.O.I.L. group, fought against removal of cabooses, was the only trainman representative to submit comments relative to the FRA's Proposed Notice of Rulemaking for utility men, lobbied Congress in Washington, D.C. against crew consist and helped to expose the collusion between our union  and Congressional leaderships in imposing crew consist by unanimous consent upon our C&NW membership, thereby setting the stage for the decimation of our national membership.  Subsequently joined, helped plan and win the effort to replace UTU union leadership.  Alan assisted to organize, plan, fight and win the struggle against UPRR's efforts to create a hub and spoke operation out of Omaha which would have otherwise displaced and destroyed hundreds of families throughout Iowa.  The combined organized efforts kept seniority districts intact, preserved the fiscal integrity and existence of the General Committee, provided for the immediate creation of 60 new jobs and the creation and distribution of a $13 million dollar claims settlement to the members for their outstanding, unsettled arbitration claims.


Members of the RWU International Steering Committee in Chicago, IL at the close of the 5th Biennial Convention, April 1, 2016. They will hold office until the next Convention, Spring of 2018.

Members of the RWU International Steering Committee in Chicago, IL at the close of the 5th Biennial Convention, April 1, 2016. They will hold office until the next Convention, Spring of 2018.