'Safety' is middle name of UTU D.C. legislative director

April 13, 2011

For UTU District of Columbia Legislative Director Willie Bates the recognition and honors keep rolling in.

The latest is from the State of Virginia, which on April 7 bestowed upon Bates the Governor’s Transportation Safety Award in the category of rail safety.

His accomplishments in earning the award speak for themselves:

  • Volunteering as a mentor, Bates has frequently declined premium-pay assignments to work overnight on safety-training sessions for newer Amtrak employees.
  • Under what the award describes as his “commitment, dedication and daily active support of safety,” his Richmond, Va., train and engine crew base has worked injury-free for three successive calendar years.
  • Bates has worked injury-free for 25 years as an Amtrak conductor and never had a safety-rules violation.

In June 2010, Bates was selected from among 79 applicants by U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood for appointment to the Obama administration’s Transit Rail Advisory Committee for Safety (TRACS), created to assist the Federal Transit Administration in drafting national safety measures for rail transit. LaHood said Bates was selected based on his leadership and organizational skills in the area of rail safety.

And in 2009, Amtrak President Joseph Boardman awarded Bates Amtrak’s highest safety honor — the Charles Luna Memorial Safety award that is named in honor of the UTU’s first International president, who later was an Amtrak board member. The award, presented annually since 1990, recognizes Amtrak employees who demonstrate the highest degree of safety awareness.

In presenting the award, Boardman described Bates as “a consistent participant in safety programs and safety committees.”

Bates is a former president and vice local chairperson of UTU Local 1933 in Richmond.