July 15, 2002

CHICAGO (July 15)–The Illinois Legislative Board is alerting all members and their families to reach out to Illinois’ two U.S. senators for immediate help in passing S. 1991, the National Defense Rail Act, authored by Sen. Ernest F. Hollings (D-S.C.)

“The message we want to send is slightly different for each senator,” said UTU Illinois Legislative Director Joseph C. Szabo.

“The message to Sen. Dick Durbin is that we want him to contact the Majority Leader, Sen. Tom Daschle, and ask him to schedule floor time for S.1991 as soon as possible,” Szabo said. “There is a huge crush of legislation that the Senate must debate and vote on before the November election. The Majority Leader schedules which legislation will be acted on and when. We want to make sure that Sen. Hollings’s bill is on the top of the pile for quick action. It has both operating funds for Amtrak and capital funds to start building the modern tracks, signaling systems, stations and grade-crossing protection this country needs before it can run high-quality passenger trains.

Republican Sen. Peter Fitzgerald should be given a different message, Szabo said.

“As a member of the minority part he cannot affect the scheduling of legislation,” he said. “However, it would send an important message to his colleagues in the House if Sen. Fitzgerald were to become a co-sponsor of S. 1991. The bill already has 37 co-sponsors in the Senate. Please call Sen. Fitzgerald and ask him to join the list of co-sponsors.”

Szabo said Sen. Durbin’s staff can be reached at (202) 224-2152. He advised callers to identify themselves as members of UTU and leave a short message urging Sen. Durbin to contact Majority Leader Daschle and ask him to schedule floor time for S. 1991.

“Be courteous, state your message clearly and succinctly, then thank the staffer and say good-by,” Szabo said.

Szabo said the same policy should be used in contacting Sen. Fitzgerald: Call(202) 224-2864. Identify yourself as a union member (or member of a union family), request that the Senator become a co-sponsor and supporter of S. 1991 and that he vote yes when the bill comes up for a vote.

Then thank the staffer, say good-bye and hang up.

“That will free up the phone for a call from the next union member making a call,” Szabo said. “We want everyone to call because S. 1991 is the best chance this country has ever had to start building a 21st-century passenger-rail system.”