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Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
3:33pm
Thu Jun 11, 2015

Whistleblower Becomes Alleged Victim Of Retaliatory Firing At Nippon Sharyo Plant (VIDEO) (UPDATED)

Passenger railcar manufacturer Nippon Sharyo has once again garnered the attention of activists and workers' rights advocates, this time for an alleged retaliatory firing. A former Nippon Sharyo worker says she was let go last week after speaking out about alleged unsafe working conditions and unfair treatment at the company's plant in Rochelle, Illinois.

Back in mid-March, then-Nippon Sharyo worker Jennifer Svenkerud filed a whistleblower discrimination complaint with the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), claiming that she was written up and sent home without pay after speaking to company officials about an alleged fall hazard in the non-unionized facility.

Svenkerud, 42, worked at Nippon Sharyo's Rochelle plant as an interior railcar assembler. Before filing her complaint with OSHA of the U.S. Labor Department, Svenkerud said she was assigned on March 3 to work inside a passenger railcar that lacked handrails and safety boards to prevent falls.

"They had me drilling up into a ceiling, and I had a five-foot drop within about a half an inch from me," she told Progress Illinois. "And we're supposed to have boards there. So I went to my boss to get boards there, and they told me that that was part of my job, and I didn't need the boards."

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
3:07pm
Mon May 4, 2015

Illinois Transportation Advocates: Rauner Budget Could Mean Major Fare Hikes, Service Cuts (VIDEO)

Illinois public transportation advocates are calling attention to the potentially "devastating" effects Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner's 2016 budget proposal could have on train and bus services across the state.

Spearheaded by the Midwest High Speed Rail Association, the coalition of advocates has launched a new campaign called "Grow Illinois Transit" to raise awareness about Rauner's proposed budget cuts to Amtrak, the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), Metra, Pace and downstate bus services. Other organizations involved with the coalition include the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 308, the Illinois Environmental Council, Illinois PIRG and the Sierra Club's Illinois chapter.

Under Rauner's budget plan for the 2016 fiscal year, which beings July 1, the CTA, Metra and Pace could see their collective funding slashed by over $160 million. Amtrak faces a $16 million cut, which represents a 40 percent reduction in funding.

Speaking at a Chicago press conference Monday afternoon, transit advocates said Rauner's fiscal plan could result in significant fare hikes as well as bus and train services being reduced or eliminated altogether. 

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