February 25, 2016

Springfield, IL (Feb 25)-After a full two days of business meetings and visits by some powerful speakers, the Illinois Legislative Board of SMART-Transportation Division wrapped up their Twelfth Quadrennial Reorganization Meeting in Springfield on February 23rd.

“It was an aggressive agenda,” said Legislative Director Robert W. Guy, “but one that I hope was fulfilling, insightful and enjoyable for our Board.”

Officers reelected to positions included Guy, Assistant State Director Joe Ciemny (#1534), Chairman John O’Brien (#1290) and Alternate State Director Carl Draper (#768). Two vacancies existed on the Executive Committee entering the meeting, the Vice Chairman position, which was filled by Jeff Votteler (#1597) and the vacant Secretary position, which was filled by Dennis Nee (#1895).

“First, I’d like to welcome Brothers Votteler and Nee to the Executive Committee,” Guy said. “They are long serving Legislative Representatives who have proven themselves over the years and deserve leadership positions on the Board.”

“Second, I want to express my sincere appreciation to our Board and the members of Illinois for their support and confidence in me,” Guy continued. “It’s truly humbling to be able to represent our members on a day-to-day basis and I will continue to do so to the best of my ability.”

While the Reorganization Meeting was a time to conduct meaningful business, it wasn’t lacking important and inspiring guests.

The meeting kicked off on Monday morning with a visit and welcoming address from U.S. Senator Dick Durbin’s Downstate Director Bill Houlihan.

Next was a visit from the Labor Member of the U.S. Railroad Retirement Board, Walter A. Barrows, who reminded attendees that it’s always SMART-TD, and its predecessor UTU, that leads the rail labor fight in protecting railroad retirement.

After lunch, Illinois Congressman Rodney Davis (R-13) addressed the group to thank the body for their support over the years.

Then came a presentation from Steve Fender, FRA Region VI Administrator.

SMART-TD National Legislative Director John Risch followed Fender with an update on the activities of our national legislative office.

Then came Illinois Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth (D-8). A Purple Heart recipient from injuries sustained during Operation Iraqi Freedom, Tammy provided a glimpse into why she supports working families and the unions that protect them.

To close out the day, Mike Matejka of the Illinois Labor History Society provided the group with a presentation entitled ‘The History of Rail Labor”.

“Quite honestly, that presentation was the perfect ‘icing on the cake’ for a day full of guests,” Guy said. “The audience was in awe, and Mike was his usual self and delivered a wonderful depiction of how far we’ve come as railroaders and union members and reminded us all of the importance of unions in protecting workers rights.”

Tuesday began with a visit from Illinois State Senator Andy Manar, whose 48th Senate District includes the hotel which provided the meeting space.

After Sen. Manar came a trio of speakers, including Illinois Commerce Commission Rail Safety Program Manager Mike Stead, and FRA’s Steve Illich, Region IV Administrator, and Kirk Gill, Region IV Deputy Administrator.

After lunch, the group welcomed SMART-TD International President John Previsich and SMART-TD Vice President John Lesniewski. Brother’s Previsich and Lesniewski provided an International update on national contract negotiations and held a brief Q&A with the Board.

Finally, a group of SMART-TD designated legal counsel performed a joint presentation.

“I’d like to thank all of our guests for taking the time to travel to Springfield and attend our meeting,” Guy said. “I think it’s an indication of the professionalism and reputation of our Board that we can garner such visits.”

“You hope for the best when you plan an event like this,” Guy said. “Our Board should be very proud, and thankful, with the lineup of guests that were able to join us, I sure know I was.”

Railroad Retirement Board

From L to R: Chairman John O’Brien, State Director Bob Guy, Labor Member of Railroad Retirement Board Walter A. Barrows, Asst. Director Joe Ciemny, Alt. State Director Carl Draper

Rodney Davis

Congressman Rodney Davis

Andy Manar

State Senator Andy Manar

SMART-TD National Legislative Director

From L to R: John Risch, SMART-TD National Legislative Director, Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth & Joe Ciemny, Asst. State Director