April 10, 2013

CHICAGO (April 10)—UTU members are being urged to contact their state representatives immediately and ask for a “Yes” vote on legislation that would permit local communities keep parades and demonstrations from marching over railroad grade crossings.

House Bill 3255 was introduced last month by State Rep. Elaine Nekritz (D-Des Plaines) to give local public-safety officials the ability to prohibit, through their permit or permission process, any portion of a route that would cross an active railroad right of way at grade.

The legislation, which Nekritz introduced at the request of the UTU Illinois Legislative Board, has now cleared committee and is ready to go to the floor for a vote.

“It’s time for every UTU member in Illinois to pick up the phone and call his or her state rep to ask for a ‘Yes’ vote on HB 3255,” said Illinois Legislative Director Robert W. Guy. “Now is the time to let them hear from us.”

Guy urged members to use the “Legislative Lookup” feature on the Union Web site to find the name and phone number of their state representative’s office.

“Just go down the left side of our welcome page to ‘Links to Useful Web Sites,’ and you’ll find ‘Legislative Lookup’ at the bottom of the list,” Guy said. “All you have to do is enter your address and ZIP code and the site will show you the name of your state rep and the phone number at his or her office.”

Guy said it’s not necessary to speak with the legislator personally.

“Just tell the person who answers the phone that you’re a UTU member and you’re requesting the member to vote ‘Yes’ on Rep. Nekritz’s House Bill 3255,” he said.

Guy said that HB 3255 will help make sure Illinois never experiences the kind of tragedy that happened last November 15 when a Union Pacific freight train struck a parade float in Midland, Tex., carrying veterans being honored for their service in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Four vets were killed and five seriously injured in the Midland incident,” he said. “We have to make sure nothing like that ever happens in Illinois and that no train crew in this state ever has to undergo what that UP crew did. They did nothing wrong and had to watch helplessly as their train struck a parade float that was on the tracks without a permit.”

Guy urged members to keep their messages to their state reps “short and sweet” and to identify themselves as UTU members.

“Grass-roots voices have an extra measure of power and credibility that professionals cannot duplicate,” he said. “Let them hear our voices now. Passing the ‘parade bill’ is the surest way to make sure that the Midland tragedy never will be repeated in Illinois.”