May 18, 2011

(SPRINGFIELD)—May 18—House Bill 1573 has passed the Illinois Senate unanimously and will be sent to Gov. Quinn for his signature.

The bill, which was introduced on behalf of the UTU, mandates that all contract-carrier vehicles that transport railroad crews must be equipped with the same type of first-aid kits that have long been mandatory on locomotives and trains and on company-owned vehicles.

“We are very pleased that the Senate, like the House before it, unanimously supported this safety legislation,” said UTU Illinois Legislative Director Robert W. Guy. “As soon as we reported on the need for this type of legislation, the sponsors in both chambers did their best to move the bill along as quickly as possible.”

Guy said the union should be proud of the fact that when HB 1573 was presented to the full floor in each chamber, the sponsor introduced the bill as “an initiative of the United Transportation Union.”

“It was our members who originally spotted the need for this legislation and asked their LRs to act on it,” Guy said, “and that’s just what they did.

“I want especially to recognize Brother Bill Mathes, legislative representative of Local #1402, who raised initial concerns regarding this issue, and his persistence that will ultimately lead to all crews having access to a simple first aid kit while being transported in a contract-carrier vehicle,” Guy said.

“Bill led the effort at our last re-organization meeting to pass a resolution that sought the Board’s effort in passing language that would require such a kit,” he said, “and today we’re one step closer to making that a reality.

“Our members have long realized that they were being driven down the highways at speeds higher than they were traveling on most of the trains they were operating, yet they had no first-aid protection,” Guy said. “They turned to the union leadership for help, and they got it.”

Guy called the successful passage of HB 1573 another example of the UTU’s increasingly successful “bottom-up approach” to protecting its members.

“This is exactly the kind of member-driven initiative our union has become known for in Illinois, and it’s one of the reasons why we’re well respected in the Illinois General Assembly,” he said. “All of us owe a big thank-you to everyone who spoke up and to everyone who reached out and asked a senator or representative to vote ‘yes.’”