Johnson, Dan


Retired former United Transportation Union (UTU) General Secretary & Treasurer Daniel E. Johnson III, 67, passed away early May 21, 2015, according to reports received by the SMART Transportation Division.

Johnson, who retired in August 2007 and was living in Lincoln, Cal., had been battling a number of health issues.

Funeral arrangements have not been determined.

Johnson was elected as the UTU’s General Secretary & Treasurer by the UTU Board of Directors in February 2001. He was subsequently re-elected to that position by acclamation at the UTU’s 2003 Quadrennial Convention, and continued to serve in that post until he retired in August 2007.

Johnson began his career in 1966 as a brakeman on the Southern Pacific, and was promoted to conductor in 1970. He joined Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen Lodge 460 (now Smart Transportation Division Local 807, in Tucson, Ariz.) in June 1966, and served as Vice Local Chairperson from 1969 to 1972, Local Chairperson from 1973 to 1980, Legislative Representative from 1971 to 1980, Delegate from 1975 to 1979, and Chairperson of the Arizona State Legislative Board from 1975 to 1983.

He also served as Vice General Chairperson from 1981 to 1990, and then General Chairperson of General Committee of Adjustment GO-887, for Southern Pacific Lines (Western) from 1990 to 1997.

Johnson was elected UTU Alternate Vice President-West in 1995, and became UTU Vice President in June 1997. He was re-elected to that post at the 1999 UTU Quadrennial Convention.

In addition, Johnson chaired the Southwest General Chairperson’s Association from 1991 to 1996, the Western General Chairperson’s Association from 1996 to 1997, and was a member of the UTU/BLE Merger Committee in 1993. A member of UTU’s National Negotiating Committee in 1995 and 1996, he also was a member of the National Wages & Rules Panel from 1997 until his retirement.

Johnson was proud to have been a founding trustee of the National Railroad Retirement Investment Trust, serving from its inception February 1, 2002, until January 31, 2004.

He was also proud of a white paper he authored entitled, “We Must Stop the ‘Race to the Bottom,’” which argued for unification of all operating historical railroad crafts as a means of standing forcefully against the carriers in the 21st Century.

A member of the University of Arizona Alumni Association, he received a B.A. in 1969 and attended graduate school there in 1969 and 1970. He served from 1973 to 1975 on the board of directors of Planned Parenthood in Tucson, Ariz.

The family asks that persons wishing to make donations in Johnson’s memory be made to: Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research Foundation, 110 East 42 St., 16th floor, New York, NY 10017. Checks should be made payable to ‘Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research.’ Donations can also be made online at

A celebration of life is being planned for July or August.

UTU International Vice President Delbert Strunk, who recently was selected by the UTU Board of Directors to succeed Kim Thompson as International general secretary & treasurer Jan. 1, chose, instead, to retire Dec. 31.

Thompson previously announced his Dec. 31 retirement.

The UTU Board of Directors will meet to determine another successor to Thompson.

By Kim Thompson
UTU General Secretary & Treasurer

Nobody spends someone else’s dollars as carefully as we spend our own.

The UTU International leadership is especially sensitive to the fact that members entrust us with their own hard-earned dollars, and every member rightfully expects their union to gain the most value for their dues money. We do not take this obligation lightly.

Since taking office in January 2008, we have instituted new cost controls and conservative investment policies that, even in the face of significant furloughs by rail carriers and problems in financial markets, have made the UTU more efficient and financially secure.

The International’s General Fund, as detailed in the most recent GS&T report, has grown since the Futhey administration took office almost 18 months ago — from $2.1 million to $4 million, which is a 90 percent increase.

The General Fund pays for International operations, including employee wages and benefits, travel tied to assistance provided general and local committees of adjustment, and headquarters rent.

Separately, our strike fund has grown by 45 percent, to $2.7 million, and our convention fund is on track to have the necessary minimum on hand to pay traditional and contemplated costs of the eleventh quadrennial convention in 2011.

Total International funds have grown from $7.5 million, when we took office in January 2008, to more than $13 million, which is an increase of more than 70 percent. This is in the face of sharp carrier cutbacks of employees — many being UTU members — in response to a sour economy.

Among cost-cutting actions was the reduction of one full-time administrative officer in the Cleveland headquarters and redistribution of that work to headquarters staff and other International officers. We have gone from 15 full-time International officers to 11, which is more than a 25 percent reduction.

Travel expenses have been reduced by combining International officer assignments and assigning officers geographically closer to the committees they are assisting. Every travel expense is checked to ensure it is necessary and proper.

Our International funds are invested conservatively so they are available when needed without undue risk of principal.

Our investment advisers are paid directly for sound financial advice and do not profit by moving our money from one investment alternative to another, or as a percentage of short-term investment gains. As a result, our International finances have withstood the effects of this recession and associated financial calamities far better than most organizations.

The UTUIA, meanwhile, earned more than $300,000 from operations during the first quarter of 2009. The UTUIA remains strong with more than $23 million in surplus, as recently validated through an annual audit.

As for the DIPP, premiums exceeded claims for the first quarter 2009, which boosted the fund’s balance. We continue monitoring this fund, as claims are tied directly to the level of carrier discipline.

We have met — and continue to meet — with carrier officers to discuss what we consider to be arbitrary discipline that unjustifiably damages employee morale, impeding our ultimate goal of providing world-class transportation service.

At the local level, we are assisting local treasurers through workshops, individual assistance and the UTU University to better equip them to carry out their duties in managing their local’s funds.

The financial state of the United Transportation Union is strong and secure, and we intend to keep it that way through careful spending and improved productivity within every department and through every activity of the International.