April 25, 2015

SPRINGFIELD (Apr. 27)–Legislation that would limit a rail carrier’s ability to use crew-van surveillance videos to harrass its employees has passed the Illinois State Senate by a
vote of 57-0.

Senate Bill 1834 would require contract carrier vehicle owners to place a notice in a visible location in the vehicle stating that a passenger’s conversation could be recorded.

The bill also stipulates that any data recorded by a video event recorder shall be the sole property of the registered owner or lessee of the vehicle.

“The new video event recorders that are now commonplace in contract-carrier vans are intended to capture and correct risky driving habits and to identify, prioritize and correct causes of poor driving before they lead to a collision,” said SMART-TD Illinois Legislative Director Robert W. Guy. “The recorders are also there to collect evidence of liability in case of an accident, not material to be used in disciplining rail crews.”

Guy said the union asked Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) to introduce legislation limiting the use of the recorders to highway-safety purposes so that railroad managers would not
be tempted to turn their recordings of speech and images into a new tool for intimidating crews.

“Railroad supervisors unfortunately have a record of using intimidation as a management tool,” Guy said.

“Although these new event recorders focus on driver behavior and
highway situations, they also have the ability to pick up a certain amount of background audio and video generated by the crew members riding in the van, which could be tempting to an aggressive railroad manager trying to build a case against an employee.”

Guy said SB 1834 sets reasonable parameters for the use of such recordings.

“It simply makes the contents of those recorders the property of its owners, which are not the rail carriers,” he said. “We support the responsible use of this equipment in contract
carrier vehicles as a way to improve safety when our members are being transported around the state. but rail carriers shouldn’t have unfettered access to the data.”

“The language of S.B. 1834 provides our members with the proper warning that such recordings could take place,” he said. “The overwhelming majority that voted for the bill suggests it really resonated with the Senate as both a privacy issue and a workplace-
fairness issue.”

The measure now moves to the House. Guy said the union would alert members to contact their state representatives and ask for a “Yes” vote when the bill comes up for passage.