Matt Hanson, alternate legislative representative and trustee for Local 171 (Aurora, Ill.), is continuing his bid to retain his seat on the Kane County Board.
Illinois State Legislative Director Bob Guy, left, and Kane County Board Member Matt Hanson, an officer for SMART-TD Local 171, pose together at an event for Hanson’s re-election campaign.
Hanson, an incumbent seeking a full term, is facing a Democratic primary challenge March 18 and continues to build momentum for a successful campaign with endorsements from the North Central Illinois Labor Council (NCILC) and the Fox Valley Building Trades (FVBT) along with several elected officials since entering the 2020 election cycle.
“I will continue to govern, drive discussion, and vote to support all employees of Kane County whether or not protected through collective bargaining,” Hanson said in an email. “Votes can be cultivated and secured using a variety of means, all of which I look to utilize. I always “do the work” for myself and like-minded candidates when my assistance is requested.”
During this effort, Hanson’s been juggling time serving on the county board, his union officer responsibilities, and his full-time career as a locomotive engineer for BNSF and can use the support of his fellow union brothers and sisters both in Illinois and elsewhere.
He has a fund-raising event scheduled 5 to 7 p.m. Feb. 3 at Mike & Denise’s Pizzeria, 1760 N. Farnsworth Ave., Aurora, Ill., 60505, and invites members to come out and support his efforts. Tickets are $25.
“Any help that can be lent is needed and immensely appreciated,” said Hanson. “I am proud to tell everyone encountered on the campaign trail that I am a card-carrying union railroader that belongs to SMART-TD Local 171.”
To contact Hanson and contribute to his campaign, email firstname.lastname@example.org or mail checks to Friends of Matt Hanson, P.O. Box 1101, Aurora, IL 60507.
SMART Transportation Division Illinois State Legislative Director Bob Guy testified Nov. 13 before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials regarding the future of Amtrak as members of Congress continue the reauthorization process for the national passenger carrier and the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act.
He touched upon the topics of assault upon workers, Amtrak funding and having a labor member on the carrier’s board.
Illinois State Legislative Director Bob Guy testifies before members of the U.S. House rail subcommittee on Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2019. At left behind Guy is SMART TD National Legislative Director Gregory Hynes and to the right behind Guy is Alternate National Legislative Director Jared Cassity.
Guy called for Congress to increase the level of appropriations reserved for Amtrak so that the carrier can go forward as an important part in the groundwork of a multimodal transportation system in the United States.
“Congress should allow Amtrak to be America’s railroad and support their ability to maintain a qualified workforce that meets customers’ demands now and well into the future,” Guy told representatives on the subcommittee.
He said steps taken by legislators in the FAST Act, including the addition of three grants administered by the Federal Railroad Administration, have helped to increase momentum for improving Amtrak’s service.
“These grants are successful, and they work.”
But operationally, there are areas of concern — Guy urged representatives to preserve and protect Amtrak’s long-distance service, which had been in jeopardy of being axed last year — especially the Southwest Chief route — before legislators stepped in.
On the administrative side, Guy said the Amtrak Board of Directors should have a member from labor on it, mirroring what the Railroad Retirement Board does, Guy said. Often, the experiences of SMART TD members and other unionized workers who keep Amtrak running day to day can be enlightening on what to do and what not to do when running the railroad, he said.
“Passengers interact with our members on board trains,” Guy said. “We hear concerns and complaints … having a labor member at a board level will help Amtrak make decisions that could affect service.”
Guy was one of three labor representatives who discussed the carrier’s relationship with labor. Over the past year, Amtrak has engaged in what has been described by some as “union busting” behavior, especially as it concerns cuts to the jobs of unionized call-center and food-service workers, police officers and rural station agents.
“When you are reducing the workforce that’s in charge of inspections and fixing equipment and whatnot, it makes it hard to keep things in a state of good repair, regardless if new equipment is coming,” Guy said. “I wouldn’t want to see worker reductions to the point where safety is jeopardized. We don’t think it is, but that’s a path we wouldn’t want to see.”
Amtrak reported a positive fiscal 2019 with an increase in ridership, a decrease in operating loss and an increase in operating revenue, but subcommittee Chairman Dan Lipinski, who represents Illinois’ 3rd District, was highly critical of the carrier’s cuts that helped to achieve those results in his opening remarks.
“Amtrak clearly has decided that the way to prosperity is to have its workers pay for it,” Lipinski said. “This is not the way to run this railroad.”
Among the cuts were about 500 jobs at a call center in Riverside, Calif. About 350 of those jobs were later brought back at non-union sites.
“Amtrak used to be an enviable place to work,” said Jack Dinsdale, national vice president of the Transportation Communications Union, in criticizing the loss of those union jobs. “It was about union busting, period.”
Also testifying on labor’s behalf was Dan Regan, secretary of the AFL-CIO’s Transportation Trades Department.
John Harold Burner, 75, of Robinson, Ill., a former assistant state director for the United Transportation Union, died at 10:50 p.m. Oct. 22, 2017 at the Good Samaritan Hospital in Vincennes, Ind. He was born April 21, 1942, the son of Harold & Edith (Comer) Burner, both of whom preceded him in death.
“John was more than an assistant director, he was a true partner when it came to representing rail workers in Illinois,” said Joe Szabo, a former Federal Railroad Administrator who also served as legislative director for the union in Illinois. “His ‘country boy’ manner resonated with members of the Illinois General Assembly, and he was trusted by both Republicans and Democrats. Together we accomplished a lot, and I owe John so much – as does every rail worker in this state. ”
SMART TD Legislative Director for Illinois Bob Guy also said that rail workers in his state are better off because of Burner’s efforts.
“The list of issues and topics that John worked on over the years is far too large to describe, but rest assured that our members are better off today for having John Burner representing us, I know I am,” Guy said. “So on behalf of all of our Illinois members, active and retired, I want to thank John for his service to our union, and I want to especially thank his wife Shirley and the rest of the Burner family for sharing him with us all those many years.
“We owe you, John — you won’t soon be forgotten, rest in peace my friend.”
John was a 1960 graduate of Palestine High School, and went on to further his education at the University of Illinois in Champaign, Ill. In 1962, he started working as an engineer on the Illinois Central Railroad, where he worked for 34 years before becoming assistant state director for UTU. He retired in 2008, and was a man who truly enjoyed his work, as anyone who knew him could attest.
Burner married Shirley Kay Corder on July 28, 1963, and she survives. He is also survived by his son & daughter-in-law, John S. & Kirsten Burner (Ventura, Calif.); by his daughter & son-in-law, Tammy & B.J. Fralicker (Palestine, Ill.); and by his grandchildren, Nick Halterman (Robinson, Ill.), Kiara Fralicker (Palestine, Ill.), and Sophia Burner (Ventura, Calif.); as well as a number of nieces and nephews.
In his free time, John could often be found on the water. In his younger days, he enjoyed water skiing. As he grew older, skiing turned to fishing, and this brought him so much joy through the years. He was also very active locally with the Boy Scouts. A former Eagle Scout, John was instrumental in starting the scout camp north of Palestine years ago. He was also active with girls’ softball for many years. Though John was many things to many people, he was first and foremost a family man. No one could doubt the love he had for his wife, children, and grandchildren, who have lost a friend, partner and patriarch.
John was a member of the Crawford County Bass Club and the Palestine High School Alumni Reunion Committee.
Visitation will be 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 26 at Goodwine Funeral Home in Palestine, Ill. Funeral services will be 10:30 a.m. Friday, Oct. 27 at the funeral home, with burial following in Palestine Cemetery. Celebrant Curt Goodwine will be officiating the service.
Memorials may be made to the Ronald McDonald House in Indianapolis.
The following is an article written by SMART Transportation Division Illinois State Legislative Director Bob Guy and was originally published on the Illinois State Legislative Board website, www.illini.utu.org.
Upon the urging of SMART, the Will County Board passed a resolution supporting the Federal Railroad Administration’s (FRA) proposed two-person crew rule. The deadline to submit comments on the propose rule is May 16, 2016. Click here to submit your comments.
Will County Board passes resolution supporting FRA’s proposed two-person crew rule
JOLIET, Ill.—A coordinated effort recently among SMART TD and SMART led to the passage of a resolution in support of FRA’s proposed two person crew rule by the Will County Board.
The resolution passed unanimously last Thursday at the regular meeting of the Will County Board after passing unanimously out of the Legislative Committee on April 12.
“When FRA announced its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for two person crews, SMART TD State Directors were encouraged to garner support for the pending rule,” said SMART TD Illinois State Director Robert W. Guy.
“What better way to show support than by having a rail-intensive community pass a resolution in support of FRA’s proposed rule and submitting it as part of the docket,” Guy said.
The strong relationship between our Illinois members of SMART TD and SMART really paid off in this effort.
“Once we got our marching orders from our national legislative office I met with Don Moran,” Guy said. “Brother Don is a Business Representative for SMART Local 265 out of Carol Stream, but also serves on the Will County Board.”
“When I briefed Don on the pending rule he immediately saw the potential negative implications for his community should rail carriers be allowed to operate trains with a lone crew member,” Guy said. “He was more than happy to introduce and shepherd through the supportive resolution.”
“The overwhelming support for the resolution is a testament to Don’s hard work,” Guy said. “We owe a big thank you to Don and his colleagues on the Board.”
“The ground work that Don accomplished really showed when I addressed the Board at their meeting last week,” Guy said. “After explaining what the proposed rule would do the Board passed the resolution unanimously.”
That local support should way heavy on FRA when they consider all comments received in regards to the proposed rule. It’s communities like Will County that have the potential to suffer most if rail carriers are allowed to operate trains with one crew member.
“This kind of support reinforces the results of the extensive polling SMART-TD has conducted over the past few years regarding crew size,” Guy said. “Citizens overwhelmingly have shown that they don’t want trains running through their communities with less than two people on board.”
The Resolution as passed by the Will County Board:
RESOLUTION OF THE COUNTY BOARD
WILL COUNTY, ILLINOIS
Resolution in Support of FRA Crew Size Rule
WHEREAS, the safe operation of freight and passenger trains are vital to commerce; and Will County supports efforts to keep train operations safe in our (state, county)
WHEREAS, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has published a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) regarding adequate staffing on trains, a factor we believe is
vital to ensuring safe train operations; and
WHEREAS, national studies show that a minimum of two on-board crew members are vital to operate a train safely and minimize the likelihood of train-related accidents; and
WHEREAS, virtually all trains in North America are already operated by crews of at least two individuals, making the economic impact of this proposed rule minimal; and
WHEREAS, the FRA agrees that, while advancements in automated technology such as Positive Train Control (PTC) systems improve railroad safety, they are not a substitute for a train’s on-board crew members.
NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Will County Board hereby supports the Federal Railroad Administration’s proposed ruling, requiring that trains operated in America be operated by no less than a two-person crew.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the County Clerk shall send a copy of this Resolution to the United States Department of Transportation in the form of comments in support of the proposed federal rule.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Preamble of this Resolution is hereby adopted as if fully set herein. This Resolution shall be in full force and effect upon its passage and approval as provided by law.
CHICAGO — The Federal Railroad Administration told SMART Transportation Division it has filed a violation against the Union Pacific Railroad in response to a union complaint that the railroad ordered a train crew to work outside its assigned territory while being piloted by a manager who was not qualified on the physical characteristics of the territory.
FRA Region IV Administrator Steve Illich informed SMART TD Illinois Legislative Director Robert W. Guy of the agency’s action in a letter dated October 27.
The incident under investigation by the FRA was reported to the Illinois Legislative Board by a member of the crew of a Bloomington-based local assigned to UP’s Springfield Subdivision.
Although the southern boundary of the territory for which the crew was qualified ends at Milepost 222, Carlinville, Ill., the May 28 job was ordered to retrieve some maintenance-of-way equipment spotted at milepost 234 near Shipman, Ill., 12 miles further south in territory over which none of the crew members were qualified.
“The standard procedure in such cases is to supply the crew with a pilot, normally a fellow transportation employee, who is qualified over the territory,” Guy said.
“But it turned out the UP manager assigned as pilot wasn’t qualified on that territory either,” Guy said. “In fact, he had never been over that track on a moving train, and he not only admitted his lack of qualification but claimed it wasn’t important.”
In his report to the SMART TD Illinois State Legislative Board, the conductor said that he and the engineer, “made it very clear that we were not comfortable having a pilot that he himself [admitted] was not qualified on the territory. His reply was that it was CTC, how hard could it be?”
The conductor asked the manager whether he had a copy of the work orders for the assignment. The manager allegedly replied that all he needed to know was that the ballast undercutter, two flat cars and two hopper cars of ballast were restricted to 25 miles-per-hour.
“The only paperwork I saw was that he had a timetable,” the conductor told the legislative board.
Guy said the crew handled the incident in exactly the right way.
“They notified the manager pilot that they weren’t comfortable,” Guy said. “Then once their tour was over they documented the incident and forwarded the details to local SMART TD officers for handling.”
“The FRA investigator in charge even noted the accuracy of the crew members’ statements regarding the manager pilot,” Guy said. “Once confronted, another UP manager stated that the pilot was not qualified on that segment of track.”
Guy also said he was “appalled” by the cavalier attitude of the manager pilot as witnessed by the crew involved in the May 28 incident.
“It’s not just that this official violated Part 240.231 of Section 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations,” Guy said. “It’s that he did it in such a flagrant and dismissive manner.”
Guy said the manager’s attitude is even more inappropriate in view of the territory where his violation occurred.
“The UP main line between Joliet and Alton has been one continual construction zone so it can be upgraded for 110-mph Amtrak service,” Guy said.
“This territory is full of equipment and manpower, and the track and bridge work migrates to different locations every day,” Guy said.
“Slow orders, Form Bs and other notices related to train movements can be issued and abolished quickly, which is why a crew unfamiliar with the track needs a pilot who knows not only the geography of the alignment but the way the railroad is using it from moment to moment.
“If a train crew is not familiar with the pilot assigned to their job, they should always question the qualifications of that pilot to determine if in fact the person is suitable to serve in that capacity.”
SMART Transportation Division’s Illinois State Legislative Director Bob Guy responded to a “letter to the editor” published in the Nov. 5 issue of the The News-Gazette and Guy’s letter was published by the newspaper Nov. 13.
“A recent letter about Amtrak from the Heritage Foundation regurgitated tired arguments that Amtrak critics have spewed for decades, that Amtrak receives taxpayer assistance, doesn’t run on-time, should be privatized and (my favorite) blamed the workforce, yet dismisses ridership records attained nearly every year for a decade.
“The author gripes about taxpayer assistance but omits the fact that roads and aviation don’t nearly pay for themselves and rely on public support; the state of the highway trust fund and its seemingly yearly bailout is proof enough.
“The author slams Amtrak for on-time performance but admits it’s the freight railroads’ fault, yet insists that’s no excuse. Handling of Amtrak by their freight “hosts” is a huge problem, especially Chicago-Champaign, which is why Amtrak is taking action, having the Surface Transportation Board investigate Amtrak’s handling by Canadian National Railway.
“The author blames the unionized workforce for their “above-market” wages. What market? These aren’t 9-to-5 jobs. Amtrak’s highly skilled, trained, safety-sensitive employees work 24/7 every single day serving the most precious cargo, passengers.
“Finally, the author retreads “privatization.” Forty-plus years ago, Congress allowed railroads to shed passenger service; it wasn’t profitable. If these same private railroads, while enjoying record revenue and profits, could make passenger rail profitable, they would. But they can’t, so they don’t!
“Amtrak should be accountable to taxpayers. But, with a generation of young people driving less to stay electronically connected and relocating to locales with public transportation, why starve a transportation mode Americans are obviously demanding.”
State Director, Illinois Legislative Board, International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers, Transportation Division