April 7, 2005

SPRINGFIELD (March 7)—“We’re getting close to the final buzzer and we’re building momentum. It time for that extra effort in making calls.”

That’s what UTU Illinois Legislative Director Joseph C. Szabo said late Thursday as he tallied up the number Illinois House members prepared to vote in favor of legislation that would bar railroad managers from interfering with the medical treatment of an employee injured on the job.

“It’s the phone calls that are doing it,” Szabo said after a day of visiting members’ offices. “What we are finding is that where calls are being made, we’re getting strong commitments. Representatives who have received lots of phone calls from rail employees say they’re going to vote for the bill. Those who aren’t getting many phone calls are showing only lukewarm support.”

Szabo said the lobbying opposition by the railroad industry has been ‘fierce.’

“They are calling this a ‘do-or-die’ bill and putting immense pressure on the state reps to vote against it,” Szabo said. “The only counter we have to that is contacts from constituents – you – from back home. Your power in turning around a rep is tremendous. It is so fun to be here in Springfield and watch it work.”

Szabo said that he anticipated that the bill would be called for a final vote on Monday (4/11) or Tuesday (4/12).

“Amendment #1 – our tweaking language – has been approved by the Rules Committee and will move straight to the floor for adoption,” he said. “Assuming that this happens on Friday or Monday, HB 2449 will be set for a final vote the next day.

“That makes our job simple,” Szabo said. “Keep calling your State Rep and urging your co-workers to call their state representatives too. Ask for a ‘Yes’ vote on H.B. 2449 and be a part of the magic.”

If you don’t know the name of your state rep, just go to http://www.elections.state.il.us/dis/pages/SelectOfficialSearch.asp and punch in your home address, Szabo said.

“The system will identify your state rep and the phone number and email address of his or her district office,” he said. “For most members it will be a local call. When the phone is answered, just identify yourself as a railroad employee and tell the other party that you’d like your representative to support H.B. 2449.

“The calls are really making a difference,” Szabo said. “We’re in the fourth quarter, we’re close to the goal line and the time has come to make that extra effort. We know that when we call, we score. That means we simply have to make more calls to more state reps.

“Once we’ve done our job, no railroad official will ever be able to delay, deny or interfere with our medical treatment again,” he said. The satisfaction of victory will be yours.”