October 19, 2009

SPRINGFIELD (Oct. 19)—Gov. Pat Quinn has appointed UTU Illinois Legislative Director Bob Guy to the 8-state Midwest Governors’ High Speed Rail Steering Committee.

The Committee was established July 27 in Chicago to coordinate the efforts of Midwestern states that applied for some of the $8 billion in high-speed rail development funds made available under the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

In addition to Illinois, the states of Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Missouri, Minnesota and Iowa are members, as are the Class I carriers, the Association of American Railroads, Amtrak, the City of Chicago, and the Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Commission, which is represented by Ill. House Railroad Committee Chairwoman Elaine Nekritz (D-Des Plaines).

“The governor’s office reached out to me recently to see if I would be interested in becoming a member of the committee to represent rail labor,” Guy told “Hot Topics.” “When they asked me whether I wanted to be a member I said, ‘Absolutely.’”

Guy said UTU International President Mike Futhey nominated him for the position after UTU legislative directors in the seven other states agreed Guy should represent labor region-wide. Illinois AFL-CIO President Michael Carrigan and UTU National Legislative Director James Stem also agreed to support Guy.

Guy will attend his first meeting when the Committee meets in Chicago Oct.27. He said the coming discussions among the eight states are critical because the amount of money available under ARRA is too small to meet all the states’ requests.

“Twenty-four states have submitted 270 applications totaling $50 billion in funding requests for rail projects,” he said. “That’s six times more than the total amount of money available under the Recovery Act.

“So we’ve got to collaborate to make sure whatever funds we do receive are spent in a way that yields the best results for the entire region and provides the greatest opportunity for job growth within the rail industry” he said. “I’m looking forward to being a part of that effort, and I’m grateful to Gov. Quinn and all those who supported me for a position on this critically important committee.”