State chamber president to retire

State chamber president to retire

A roundup of business news:

SPRINGFIELD — Doug Whitley plans to retire as president and CEO of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce next year after 12 years in the job.

Whitley, 63, notified the chamber's board of directors of his plans Thursday, according to a chamber release.

Chamber Chairman Ray Drake said Whitley has transformed the chamber into "a robust organization that is well-respected and recognized" as the statewide voice of business.

Drake said the board will conduct a nationwide search for Whitley's successor. He thanked Whitley for giving long advance notice that should lead to an easy transition.

Whitley said "it will be good for the Illinois chamber to have a new leader with a fresh perspective when the next gubernatorial administration starts, whether Gov. Pat Quinn is re-elected or we have a new governor."

Whitley, who grew up in Atwood, was previously president of Ameritech Illinois. He spent two years as director of the Illinois Department of Revenue under former Gov. Jim Edgar.

Whitley also served as president of the Taxpayers' Federation of Illinois for 14 years.

OSHA rules in favor of Urbana rail worker

URBANA — An Urbana railroad employee has been awarded $105,000 in damages by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Thomas M. McKinley was awarded compensatory damages of $5,000 for mental pain and emotional distress and $100,000 in punitive damages in connection with an injury he reported to his employer in 2011.

The damages were assessed against the Illinois Central Railroad Co., a subsidiary of Canadian National Railway.

The company has until mid-September to file objections and request a hearing before an administrative law judge. If no objections are filed, the findings become final.

According to OSHA, McKinley, an engineer at the Urbana Yard, received a work-related injury March 28, 2011, when he strained his lower back while securing a hand brake on a locomotive.

He reported the injury to the assistant superintendent later that day, and the company found the hand brake working and free of defects.

The company held an investigative hearing on April 18 of that year to determine whether McKinley violated any company rules in connection with the incident. McKinley was later notified that he had violated three safety rules and was given a 20-day deferred suspension. OSHA determined the evidence presented at the investigative hearing was "not persuasive" that McKinley had violated any safety rules.

A 35-year employee of the company, McKinley had "little to no" record of discipline before reporting his injury, with the last recorded disciplinary action occurring eight years earlier, the agency said. OSHA said it found reasonable cause to believe the company violated the Federal Railroad Safety Act by giving the deferred suspension even though evidence showed McKinley hadn't violated company rules.

The agency said that on two previous occasions, Illinois Central violated the act's whistleblower provisions when the company brought disciplinary charges against employees who reported workplace injuries and terminated their employment.

Company activates 4G LTE network in C-U

CHAMPAIGN — AT&T recently announced that it has activated its 4G LTE network in Champaign-Urbana, providing speeds faster than many other mobile Internet technologies.

The company claims it not only has the nation's fastest 4G LTE network, but also the most reliable.

The launch comes as part of AT&T's Project Velocity IP, a three-year investment plan announced last fall to expand and enhance its IP broadband networks.

As part of that project, AT&T plans to add more than 10,000 macro cell sites nationwide by the end of 2015. It also plans to deploy more than 40,000 small cells and add more than 1,000 distributed antenna systems to increase the density of its wireless network.

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