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Rail News: Labor

Chicago job fair drew thousands of railroad job seekers, Rep. Rush says


On Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) hosted a transportation industry job fair at Chicago State University that attracted thousands of job seekers, including many who sought employment in the rail industry.

About 4,700 people registered for the job fair and more than 1,000 people lined up before the doors opened at 10 a.m., said Rush in a prepared statement. His office estimated that about 7,000 people attended the event, which featured hiring representatives from 28 transportation companies, including railroads, airlines, trucking firms and public transit agencies.

The employers included Amtrak, the Belt Railway Co. of Chicago, BNSF Railway Co., CN, the Chicago Transit Authority, CSX Corp., Metra, Norfolk Southern Corp. and Union Pacific Railroad, as well as the Federal Railroad Administration, Illinois Department of Transportation and United Parcel Service.

“Several weeks ago, my staff and I identified … transportation companies that are planning to hire more than 2,000 new employees,” said Rush. “We found that freight trains are rolling. Many of our biggest rail companies are making profits and they’re hiring. It’s a hopeful sign for the economy.”

Companies working on rail and highway infrastructure improvements in Chicago and northeastern Illinois also manned booths at the event. Some of the job interviews were generated by Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency (CREATE) program, which aims to reduce railroad congestion and improve air quality in the Chicago area, said Rush. The construction of bridges and tracks will be an economic driver for the region and lay the foundation for the Midwestern portion of the nation’s high-speed rail system, he said.

“I believe that people who get hired at the start of this railroad infrastructure project will, potentially, have work for decades,” said Rush. “The transportation sector is doing well and I believe their growth is an early indicator of an economic recovery.”

On Monday, Rush also hosted a vendor fair in Chicago for Disadvantaged Business Enterprise-qualified contractors interested in bidding on contracts for the CREATE program’s Englewood Flyover project.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 8/11/2011