As National Legislative Director, International Vice President Robert Davis oversees TCU’s legislative and political action programs.
The Legislative Department’s challenge is to protect the gains our members have made over the years and to work for legislation to further improve conditions in the workplace and in society. Department staff work both at the national level and in the states and rely on assistance from TCU’s local lodge and district officers and their grassroots committees consisting of activist members dedicated to advancing our Union’s agenda.
The department works closely with other union legislative representatives through the AFL-CIO and other allied groups, participating in coordinated efforts. Staff works closely with legislators and their representatives to persuade them to support TCU’s legislative priorities. Sometimes this demands an all-out effort–for example our successful campaign to enact significant improvements iu Railroad Retirement, or our work to enforce rail safety. At times our role is to work to block passage of harmful legislation–for example, stopping the repeal of New York Dock labor protection in rail mergers and protecting the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA).
The department monitors and reviews all pending legislation introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate during the current session of Congress to determine which issues might affect TCU members.
Voting Records and Candidate Endorsements–The Legislative department assesses how every Senator and member of the House of Representatives has voted during each session of Congress. From these evaluations they develop data for the RCPL voting records. Based on these, the department makes recommendations of candidate endorsements to TCU members at election time. These recommendations are made only after an extensive review of an incumbent’s voting record and his or her position on pending legislation of importance to TCU members. All candidate recommendations are made only after checking their political background, labor endorsements and their potential to win the election, regardless of party affiliation.
RCPL –An integral program of the department is RCPL, the Responsible Citizens Political League. Through RCPL, our Union is able to help deserving elected officials whose voting records reflect support for workers’ issues in general and rail labor in particular.
RCPL is financed only through the voluntary contributions of TCU members. By federal law, no union dues money can be used for partisan political activity in supporting federal candidates for political office.
PEP–TCU has PEP, its Political Education Program, to strengthen our legislative efforts financed from union funds. PEP activities are aimed at educating our members and their families about political issues and candidates, encouraging them to register and urging them to vote. These include activities to promote legislative research, campaigns to encourage voting, lobbying for legislation we support, and education programs to inform members and their families about political issues and candidates, and conducting get out the vote drives.
To supplement what money the Grand Lodge assigns to such initiatives, PEP encourages contributions from local lodges, districts and boards. PEP contributions go only toward political education for members and their families, not the general public. Lodge, district or system board treasury funds used for PEP purposes are not counted as candidate contributions and therefore such funds can be contributed to PEP.
Local lodge or district treasury funds may be used for financing fundraising drives, such as direct mail appeals to members, personal contacts, raffles and dances; however, under certain conditions expenditures must be reported. Local units should contact TCU’s Legislative Department when considering such activities.