January 4, 2010

CHICAGO (Jan. 4)—The UTU Illinois Legislative Board has completed its list of endorsements for candidates running in the Feb. 2 Primary Election.

The Board endorsed 91 candidates for the Illinois House, 20 candidates for the Illinois State Senate, 16 candidates for the U.S. House, one candidate for the U.S. Senate and three candidates for Illinois Appellate Court vacancies, in addition to candidates for governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state and state treasurer.

The full list of UTU endorsements can be viewed on the union’s Web page by clicking on the “Endorsements” link under “Ill. Legislative Board.”

“As we always do, the board deliberated carefully on all of these endorsements,” said UTU Illinois Legislative Director Robert W.Guy. “We focused particularly hard on the races for governor, lieutenant governor, state treasurer and state attorney general because these leaders can have an especially powerful effect on issues affecting railroad workers.”

Guy said the union followed its historic policy of endorsing candidates from both parties.

“The UTU does not endorse on a partisan basis,” he said. “The sole criterion we use in endorsing a candidate is the candidate’s positions on issues affecting the safety and well being of our members and their families.

“Thus, if the candidate is an incumbent or has held other public offices, we look at his or her voting record to see what the candidate has done to protect working people,” Guy said. “If the candidate is a challenger who has never held public office, we look at the candidate’s background and positions on important issues that could have an impact on railroad employees and their families.

“Then we ask ourselves: Does this candidate support legislation that protects the welfare of working people and their families, particularly in the railroad industry? Is this individual likely to vote for legislation that guarantees a safe workplace? Is this individual likely to support a well funded Railroad Retirement System and strong health-care benefits for railroad families?

“And finally, we look at the individual’s record on unionization. The UTU supports elected officials who protect the rights of all workers to organize themselves into unions and bargain collectively for better wages, benefits and working conditions. The right to organize is the heart and soul of the union movement, and we seek out candidates who have a record of supporting it.”

Guy urged all UTU members to make sure they vote in the Feb. 2 primary and to consider early voting.

“As railroaders we understand that most of us don’t work in a scheduled environment, so early voting gives us the opportunity to make sure our voice is heard,” he said. “Please don’t take the chance that you won’t be working on Feb. 2nd and miss your opportunity to cast your important vote. If your work schedule is in question please vote early.”

Early voting in Illinois begins on January 11th and runs through January 28th and can usually be accomplished at your local County Clerk’s Office or County Building. To determine the location where you can vote early, or for more information on early voting or grace-period registration and voting, please visit the Illinois Board of Elections Web site at www.elections.il.gov and click on the “Voting and Elections” section.

“Voter turnout in primary elections normally is low, so that means the few who do vote exert greater leverage,” Guy said. “I urge all of our members and their families to get out in force and vote for UTU-endorsed candidates.”