April 14, 2015

SPRINGFIELD (Apr. 15)–SMART-TD’s legislation raising the insurance coverage for railroad crew members riding in contract-carrier vans has passed the Illinois House by a resounding 108-4 vote.

“This is the best kind of victory for our members because the support was very bi-partisan,” said SMART-TD Illinois Legislative Director Robert W. Guy. “Legislators from both sides of the aisle recognized the potential losses that our members face should they be injured in a contract-carrier vehicle.”

Known as House Bill 439, the legislation was sponsored in the House by State Rep. Jay Hoffman (D-Swansea). It now moves to the Senate, where it will be sponsored by Sen. Tony Munoz (D-Chicago) Both Hoffman and Munoz sponsored the original legislation in 2005 that established minimum levels of coverage.

The bill’s amended language raises the minimum amount of uninsured/underinsured coverage for contract carrier vehicles from $250,000 to $500,000 per injured passenger at the beginning of 2016, with another statutory increase to $750,000 in the year 2020.

“The current minimum amount of $250,000 has been in place since our predecessor union, the UTU, got the original bill passed in 2005,” Guy said. “Today’s $250,000 minimum requirement is simply outdated given the potential losses for our members who cannot return to work as a result of a career ending injury at the hands of an uninsured or underinsured driver.”

Guy also noted that for the first time the legislation specifically mentions “railroad crews” as the beneficiaries of the higher coverage.

“It’s important to recognize, in statute, that this coverage will specifically cover railroad employees who are required to travel in contract-carrier vehicles as a condition of their employment”, Guy said.

“The board would like to thank all of our members who reached out via phone, fax and e-mail to ask their state representatives vote for this bill,” Guy said. “It’s clear from the overwhelming majority we secured that our message was heeded. We’ll alert everyone again when the bill comes up for consideration in the Senate.”