The unfortunate, recently issued Seventh Circuit ruling federally preempts the Illinois Two Person Crew law (SB 24), which was passed and signed into law in 2019. The courts basis for its ruling was the Federal 3R Act, which created Conrail. The 3R Act was designed to reorganize struggling railroads in the Northeast and Midwest, bringing them under governmental control until they were returned to the private sector in 1987. But, within the 3R Act was a section effecting 17 states (Illinois was included) that prohibited those states from enacting laws that required “specified number of persons to perform any particular task, function, or operation”.
We addressed the 3R act with the Illinois General Assembly, explaining that since Conrail had been properly returned to the private sector, it’s content shouldn’t be used against potential passage of our Two Person Crew Bill, which the General Assembly and Governor agreed with. The Seventh Circuit, however, disagreed by stating…”The preemption language of the 3R Act is too specific to ignore.”
While this is disappointing news, it doesn’t end the fight for our Illinois Two Person Crew law. I’m assuming that we, along with the BLET, will appeal this ruling.
Regardless of what happens next in the judicial arena, we do have the upcoming FRA rule making process where Deputy Administrator Amit Bose has indicated his desire for a federal crew size regulation.
I also want to take the time to thank our entire SMART-TD team that worked tirelessly in 2019 to get SB 24 passed and signed into law, it was a true team effort and something I will always be proud of.
Robert W. Guy
Illinois Legislative Board
126 N. Scott St.
Joliet, IL. 60432