November 3, 2004

CHICAGO (Nov. 3)—Endorsements by the UTU Illinois Legislative Board worked like a good-luck charm in Tuesday’s election, as 94 per cent of the candidates receiving the union’s approval in Illinois won their races.

Among Illinois candidates for the U.S. House and Senate, 100 per cent of the UTU candidates won. Those winners included the state’s new junior U.S. Senator-Elect, Barack Obama, and Congresswoman-Elect Melissa Bean, who ousted veteran Phil Crane as U.S. Representative for the 8th District.

In the Illinois State Senate, 21 of 22 UTU-endorsed candidates achieved victory and of 101 UTU-endorsed candidates in the Illinois State House, only eight suffered defeat.

“These victories represent a tremendous achievement for our union in Illinois,” said UTU Illinois Legislative Director Joseph C. Szabo.

“We lost a few good friends in the State elections, but overall came out extremely well,” Szabo said. “In addition to assuring our members will be represented by legislators who understand the concerns of railroad employees, these victories tell us that our union’s political-involvement strategies are paying off. Members understand the value of a UTU endorsement.”

Szabo said he was particularly pleased at the high level of member involvement in UTU-PAC, the political-action committee that raised campaign funds for union-endorsed candidates, particularly Obama and Bean.

“Barack Obama is going to be a great U.S. senator, Szabo said. “John Burner and I have long had the pleasure of working with him in his capacity as a state senator, and ever since he first arrived in the General Assembly we were impressed with his extraordinary abilities. We have been blessed to call him a good friend.

“And I’ve gotten to know Melissa Bean over the course of the last two years, and am certain that she too will be an unusually gifted public servant. The election of these two candidates vastly enriches the strength of the Illinois congressional delegation.”

Szabo said both Obama and Bean possess “a thorough understanding of the issues that are important to railroad employees.”

“Elections have consequences, especially for us as railroad workers,” he said. “While I’m concerned over the direction of our national politics, I’m pleased that our members in Illinois understood what was at stake and responded so enthusiastically. A job well done.”