It definitely matters whom we elect to Congress

Published: October 24, 2014

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Risch

Congressional elections do matter. Actions of Congress can make a big difference when it comes to our job security, our wages, our fringe benefits, our retirement and safety in our workplace.

In this issue of the SMART Transportation Division News are our official endorsements for the Nov. 4 election. These endorsements are based on recommendations from our state legislative boards which, with our national office, reviewed the voting records of incumbent lawmakers and conducted thorough interviews with new candidates seeking national office.

Our constitution requires that we make these endorsements and we take this obligation seriously. A full listing of how Congressional legislators voted on issues important to our members can be found on the Transportation Division website at www.utu.org by clicking on the 2014 Voter Information tile at the bottom right corner of the homepage.

The upcoming session of Congress will be a busy one. We will be working to pass legislation requiring a minimum of two persons – a certified conductor and a certified engineer – working on all trains. One current bill, Senate Bill S. 2784 – the Rail Safety Improvement Act, is reported on page 1 of this publication.

We will be working to see that our transit systems and Amtrak receive the funding they so desperately need. Likewise, we will be working to make sure that the National Mediation Board receives the funding it needs to resolve disputes in the workplace in a timely manner. We will be working with our Sheet Metal brothers and sisters on issues important to the construction industry and to ensure that the Essential Air Service program is properly funded.

Electing labor-friendly legislators is the key to our success. Our Legislative Department can be the best in the business, but if this election produces a Congress in which a majority of its members don’t even believe in the fundamental rights of workers, our efforts to protect our members’ jobs, paychecks, benefits, retirement income and workplace safety will be much harder.

We all have our personal views about life and the government. I understand that we have members that are Democrats, Republicans, independents, Tea Party Libertarians, Green Party environmentalists and just about every flavor out there. While I appreciate our diversity, I urge you to take into consideration the endorsements in this newspaper when you cast your ballot.

These endorsements were based on issues like support for two-person train crews, Amtrak, the coal industry, mass transportation funding, and other work-related issues.

Our endorsed incumbents have supported our work-related issues and the endorsed candidates have pledged to do so.

Neither I nor anyone else in our union tells anyone “how to vote.” What we do is fulfill our constitutional responsibility to endorse those that we believe will support us once they’re elected. To do anything less would be shirking our constitutional responsibility.

Come Nov. 4, no matter whom you choose to vote for…choose to vote. If your state has early or absentee voting, take advantage of this opportunity, especially if you work a road job or an extra-board.

I look forward to serving each of you as your National Legislative Director and pledge to do my best. That being said, our legislative department’s odds of success will be much better if you send folks to Congress that support our issues.

John Risch

National Legislative Director
SMART Transportation Division

Below are Congressional scorecards compiled by the SMART Transportation Division Legislative Office. See how your legislators voted on the issue affecting your job.

House of Representatives
Senate

Click here for the SMART Transportation Division’s congressional endorsements as determined by its state legislative boards and National Legislative Office.