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Senate confirms Szabo's nomination as FRA administrator

(The following appeared on the Progressive Railroading website on April 30, 2009.)

Next month, Joe Szabo will become the 13th administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). Yesterday, the Senate confirmed his nomination as the agency’s leader.

A fifth-generation railroader, Szabo, 51, is the first FRA administrator to come out the rail labor ranks. He most recently served the United Transportation Union (UTU) as Illinois state legislative director.

Szabo’s appointment is a “validation that this Obama Administration is a friend of organized labor,” said UTU International President Mike Futhey in a statement posted on the union’s Web site.

Szabo began his railroading career in 1976 with the Illinois Central Railroad (IC), where he was a yard switchman, road trainman and commuter-rail conductor. He later joined Chicago’s Metra after the IC sold its commuter-rail division in 1987. Szabo also previously served as mayor of Riverdale, Ill.

In 1984, Szabo was elected secretary/treasurer of UTU Local 1290, and later became a delegate and legislative representative. In 1992, he was elected vice chairman of the Illinois State Legislative Board, and in 1996, was installed as state legislative director.

Friday, May 1, 2009

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