Illinois AFL-CIO, Rail Labor and first responders applaud Biden administration for new rule on two-person crews

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – The Illinois AFL-CIO, Illinois railroad unions, and Associated Fire Fighters of Illinois (AFFI) applaud the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and Department of Transportation (DOT) for finalizing a new federal rule requiring railroads to maintain minimum two-person crews for most freight and passenger operations.  


In 2019, the same organizations worked to pass SB 24 (PA 101-294) through the Illinois General Assembly, which required two-person crews for freight trains in Illinois. The new federal rule creates uniformity across all states and ensures our railroad infrastructure has vital safety support. 


The Illinois AFL-CIO and rail labor unions across the state supported the Federal Railroad Administration’s proposed rule when announced in 2022, commenting in support of the Train Crew Staffing NPRM and securing a letter of support from Governor J.B. Pritzker.  


“Illinois is one of the nation’s most important rail hubs, and two-person crews on our railways help ensure our workers can safely move vital goods across America,” said Pat Devaney, Secretary-Treasurer of the Illinois AFL-CIO. “We are thankful to the Biden administration for continuing to put workers first and ensuring that rail workers across the country have the same protections we passed in Illinois.” 


“SMART-TD and rail workers across Illinois and the country have long advocated for common sense crew size regulations to ensure that freight trains are operated with a minimum of two crew members,” stated Bob Guy, Illinois State Director of SMART-TD, the largest rail union in the nation. “Yesterday’s long-awaited rule announcement supports the work we’ve already done here in Illinois. By creating parity across the country, we are protecting the safety of rail workers, local communities, and the environment.”    


“This rule acknowledges the value the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen places on safety and maintains partnerships that keep our members and the public safe,” remarked Cory Martin, Chairman of BLET Illinois State Legislative Board, North America’s oldest rail union. “America’s railroaders are committed to the safest possible transportation of passengers and freight, and a two-person crew is crucial to that goal. We commend Secretary Buttigieg and FRA Administrator Bose for putting people before profits.” 


“Firefighters and first responders across Illinois thank the Biden administration for their work finalizing this important safety rule,” said Chuck Sullivan, President of AFFI. “While there is still work to be done, train crew minimum staffing will prevent future disasters, and if an accident does occur, provides a first line of defense before emergency personnel arrive.”