January 10, 2002

The first serious attempt to dismantle Amtrak is under wayin Congress, threatening thousands of jobs and endangering the Railroad Retirement system.

The threat comes in the form of a bill known as H.R. 3591, which was introduced into the U.S. House of Representatives December 20. H.R. 3591 calls for Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor and its Virginia-to-Florida Auto-Train operation to be separated from the national system operated by Amtrak and turned over to the states or possibly to private operators.

The rail unions are asking all of their members to call their U.S. representatives and ask them not to co-sponsor H.R. 3591 and to vote “No” if it comes to the floor for a vote.

Illinois is represented in the House by 20 congressmen, evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats. If you do not know the name of your U.S. Representative, there’s an easy way to do it through a convenient link on this Web site.

First, go back to the Home Page and scroll down the left-hand column that lists the links to the different features. Go to “Links to useful sites” and click. Next, click on “Federal agencies.” Finally, click on “U.S. House.”

Once inside this link you will be presented with boxes in which you can enter your state and your ZIP code. Please enter your entire 9-digit ZIP code, as the extra four digits can be critical in locating certain congressional districts. Once you have entered the necessary information and clicked the “Submit” button, you will see the name of your congressman. You will also see a form in which you can write your congressman an e-mail asking him to withold support from H.R. 3591.

Use the e-mail form at once. Then, turn to your White Pages and find the phone number for your congressman’s District Office. Call the number and tell the staffer who answers the same message you sent to the congressman by e-mail: Do not support H.R. 3591. Remember to tell the staffer who takes your call that you are a railroad employee or family member.

Why is it essential that rail union members and their families fight this attempt to dismember Amtrak? Simple: Amtrak has 20,000 union employees–and every one of them needs his or her job. Equally important, for every one of those employees, Amtrak pays into the Railroad Retirement system that stands behind all of the nation’s rail employees and their families. If the number of Amtrak jobs is cut, payments into the Railroad Retirement Fund are cut as well, reducing the pool of capital which the Railroad Retirement Board invests to provide benefits for you and your family. Weakening Amtrak weakens Railroad Retirement and endangers the important new benefits we just won with the passage of the Railroad Retirement and Survivors Improvement Act.

Don’t let it happen. Call and write your congressman now and ask him not to support H.R. 3591.