October 28, 2013

DUPO, Ill. (Oct. 28)—SMART-TD Local #1402 representing Union Pacific employees in the St. Louis Metro East area, has joined the AFL-CIO’s Central Labor Council covering Southern Illinois as it girds for the battle to make two-person train crews a federal law.

Local #1402 Legislative Representative Bill Mathes said the cost was negligible while the payoff promises to be huge.

“Joining the Central labor Council will cost our local about 15¢ per member per month,” Mathes said. “We have 208 members at the moment, so we’ll pay about $504 per year.”

In return for that modest investment, Mathes said, his local will be able to call on the 20,000 members of unions affiliated with the Central Labor Council when the campaign to pass H.R. 3040, the so- called “two-person-crew bill,” kicks into high gear.

“Instead of getting calls from 208 railroad employees and their families, our congressmen will get calls from school teachers, carpenters, steamfitters, plumbers, truck drivers and airline pilots all across Southern Illinois—maybe 20,000 of them,” Mathes said.

“We’re getting more bang for our buck,” he said. “In the past we didn’t know how to reach out to the school teachers or the carpenters. Now it’ll be labor helping labor—working people all across Southern Illinois reaching out to help one another.”

“That’s what we’re hoping for,” said SMART-TD Illinois Legislative Director Robert W. Guy. “We not only need railroaders to call their representatives but all of our brothers and sisters in organized labor. It’s everybody’s fight.

“That’s why we encourage all of our locals to join their respective central labor councils,” Guy said. “With the seemingly endless attacks on labor we need to form partnerships with other labor bodies, There’s truly strength in numbers.”

This is not the first time Mathes has got Local #1402 involved in a good cause. He’s also organizing a food drive to help ensure the many poor families in the River East area don’t go hungry during the holiday season.

“We’re working with the Dupo Food Pantry at the local Baptist Church,” he said. “Our members have been dropping off donations of food at the yard office, and the union makes sure it gets into the hands of the food-pantry people. We don’t like to see folks go hungry.”