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IL Legislative Dir., Robert W. Guy
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The United Transportation Union’s Illinois Legislative Board

While collective bargaining remains a major tool used by labor unions to achieve fair wages and decent working conditions for their members, another tool has emerged to become equally powerful: legislation. The UTU maintains one of the most extensive and effective legislative organizations in the labor movement to shape new laws protecting the interests of its members. The National Legislative Director is located in Washington, D.C. and is assisted by a staff widely respected for its professionalism in moving needed legislation while blocking the passage of laws hostile to the interests of working people. In the U.S., 49 of the 50 states have their own UTU Legislative Boards, each made up of Local Legislative Representatives and headed by a State Director.

Illinois is a major center of UTU legislative activity because it is the hub of the North American rail network and has one of the largest populations of railroad employees. Illinois is the only state served by all five U.S. Class I carriers as well as both Canadian Class I roads. It has more than 50 short lines and switching carriers, 50 Amtrak trains per day, and the Metra system serving the six-county Chicagoland area with the largest commuter-train network outside New York. Making sure the employees of these railroads receive appropriate representation in state government—and at the national level as well—is the responsibility of the UTU’s Illinois Legislative Board.

The Board is made up of 38 Local Legislative Representatives, one from each UTU Local in the state. Every four years the Board meets to elect a Director, an Assistant Director, and an Executive Committee consisting of Chairman, Vice Chairman and Secretary. State Legislative Director Robert W. Guy and Assistant Legislative Director Joseph Ciemny conduct an ongoing dialogue with members of the Illinois General Assembly and the U.S. Congress. They make sure lawmakers understand the needs of railroaders and their families so that legislation to protect union members can be turned into law, such as the 2002 Contract Carrier Safety Act, which mandates safety inspections for vehicles that carry train crews.

In addition, Guy and Ciemny work closely with state and federal regulatory authorities to make sure that existing laws protecting railroad workers are enforced. Such enforcement action has led the state’s rail carriers to replace many of their dilapidated crew locker rooms with modern facilities and to cease interfering with employee access to medical care. At the federal level, Illinois Legislative Board action has resulted in fines against carriers that instructed crews to violate safety regulations and the Hours of Service Act. The Illinois Legislative Board is recognized as a major tool in the fight for a better workplace and a better life for UTU members and their families.

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