Union Pacific’s Union Man

Born in Wisconsin in 1841, George Vroman began his railroad career in Indiana as a fireman on the Wabash Railroad. In 1869, he became an engineer with the Union Pacific in North Platte, eventually rising to manage the machine shops.

In 1877, Vroman organized an employee grievance committee, and in 1891 was elected general chairman of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, overseeing 24 lodges and 8,000 miles of rail. In 1879, he won a ruling for the employees in America’s first arbitration case between railway workers and their company.

In 1887, UP issued a wage-reduction order for all employees. Vroman took the matter to the U.S. Circuit Court in Omaha–the first time a labor question had been taken to a higher court. The ruling in favor of the workers represented one of labor’s greatest victories.

He was so dedicated to labor relations he named his second daughter, Arba Tration Vroman. George Vroman died in May 1921.