As a mother of five, Pensacola, FL, bus driver, and member of Local 1395, Arlene Wires is used to juggling a very busy life. When Escambia County Area Transit (ECAT) transit workers decided to go on strike to protest ECAT contractor Veolia proposing massive service cuts, she knew they could be in for a long fight.
While family comes first for Arlene, she wanted to volunteer all the time she could to this critical fight because her family’s future was at stake. Arlene and her husband juggled their schedules to allow her to work for the union on her days off and at night after her work.
Arlene found time to volunteer 20 to 25 hours each week. On her off days she sometimes worked 16 hours a day on the campaign. She played a critical role on a petition campaign and helped build coalitions with Pensacola transit riders and Occupy Pensacola.
A ‘huge asset’
Local 1395 President Mike Lowery called Arlene a ‘huge asset” to the success of getting Veolia removed as the contractor for ECAT. “Arlene went above and beyond as an ATU volunteer,” said Lowery. “She drove her own vehicle around Pensacola to local businesses to spearhead the campaign that got more than 5,000 signed petitions against Veolia.”
Arlene continues to volunteer 15 to 20 hours each week for the local. She has assisted in ATU-COPE and COPE-Plus drives. When asked what motivates Arlene to volunteer so much time for the local, she spoke about her family. “Since the strike I understand that one person can actually make a difference. I now understand how the Union benefits my family and my future,” said Arlene. “I love the ATU and I love what we stand for, especially the idea of standing up for my fellow workers.”