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60th Convention Daily Proceedings - Day One

Day One Recap of the
60th International Convention

International President Costa Convened 60th International Convention to Order

The 60th International Convention of the Amalgamated Transit Union convened in high style, Monday, September 19, at 8:41 a.m.

The Day One festivities began with the rousing sound of bagpipers who marched throughout the Convention hall and the Presentation of Colors by the Eldorado High School Naval Junior Reserves Officers Training Corps Company. The attendees then joined vocalist Tymara Walker in singing the Star-Spangled Banner and Kelly Vonn in singing Oh, Canada.

International Secretary-Treasurer and Temporary Chair Kenneth Kirk opened the proceedings, bringing Father Daniel Rolland from St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Community to give the invocation to start the Convention. “How many people depend on you to take care of their children, to get them safe to and from school, the many workers who need you to get them to work on time. Thank you. And all those who help make it possible,” said Father Rolland in an inspiring invocation.


Welcome to Las Vegas

Host Local 1637, Las Vegas, NV, President, Terry Richards, Vice President, Sandra Adams, and Financial Secretary, Tim Bush, took the stage to offer some welcome remarks, which was followed by Kirk’s introductory address.

Kirk recognized late former Secretary-Treasurer Oscar Owens whose position he filled. He went on to speak about the importance of the week’s convention. “And now as delegates representing your locals you have the special responsibility of charting the future for our great union.  The Convention is the highest authority in the ATU.  The officers and board members we elect this week will carry out that vision that you, the delegates, determine here at this convention. As the ATU has done in the last 59 Conventions, I have every confidence that we will meet the challenges we face this week.”


To view the Convention Day One photo gallery, click on the photo below: 

Passing of the Gavel

The IST then passed the gavel on to International President John Costa, who he said has had “the difficult task of leading our union through some of the most difficult times in our history.” Costa came to the podium amidst rousing cheers and applause as the song “Friendship Train” played.

International President and Convention Chair Costa introduced himself, saying, “It's my honor to welcome you, as our International President to our 60th International Convention.” Referring to the loss of Oscar Owens, the pandemic, the tragic shooting in San Jose, Costa said, “It's been a challenging three years since we last met.”

Despite the loss, our Union stood together, fought like hell for protections and funding and resisted layoffs and concessions, and have organized more members than we have in a decade,” Costa continued to a round of applause.

“For the workers of the world who are rising up, for the generations that come after us, the sacrifices of those who came before us, we would not be this great union, this mighty, mighty union without you.  We truly are and will always be Stronger Together.”


‘Keeping Our Communities Strong’

After Costa’s inspirational speech, he introduced Liz Shuler, President of the AFL-CIO who praised the ATU and our members for their commitment to keeping our countries moving. “And whether you are operating a bus or a subway, light rail, streetcar, a ferry, helping maintain or manage transit operations, I know we have got municipal employees in the room. You have got a very diverse union and your union is what keeps our economy going and keeps our communities strong and moving across America and across Canada.”


Good Union Jobs

International President Costa then introduced Ted Pappageorge, Secretary-Treasurer of the Culinary Workers Union Local 226 in Las Vegas. “So this is a great Union and these are great jobs that you have all worked hard to create and protect.  But we have to be honest, these jobs weren’t always great jobs until you made them great jobs and they became union jobs.”


Committee Appointments

The appointment of members of the Credentials Committee followed Shuler’s motivating speech.

International President John Costa then honored the attending widows of former international officers, Mrs. Betty Owens and Mrs. Doris Reynolds.

Next the ATU’s retired international officers were introduced, concluding with revered retired International President Jim La Sala, who received a standing ovation.

Next, Costa introduced the current members of our International General Executive Board and our international and ATU Canada teams.

Delegates and guests then watched an opening video summarizing the past three years, including the struggles and victories of the ATU.

Sergeant-at-Arms were then introduced and thanked for their service followed by the Report of the Credentials Committee which was unanimously adopted by voice vote.

The appointment of members of the Rules Committee was next.


‘We Are, We Are Union’

Costa introduced the Coalition of Labor Union Women President Elise Bryant who broke into song throughout her rousing speech. “I am a union woman, just as strong as I can be.  I do not like the bosses and the bosses don’t like me” along with a rendition of ‘Solidarity Forever’ and leading the delegates in a chant of “We are, we are union” to the tune of Queen’s ‘We will rock you.’

More assignments to convention committees were made after the mayor’s welcome:

  • Appeals
  • Resolutions
  • Laws
  • Next Generation
  • Paratransit
  • Maintenance and New Technology and Work Force Development
  • International President’s and General Executive Board’s Reports
  • International Secretary‑Treasurer’s Report
  • Balloting
  • Occupational Health & Safety Mental Wellness
  • Operations Workforce Development
  • Political Action
  • Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
  • Organizing and Collective Bargaining
  • School Bus
  • Over‑the‑Road Committee

The Report of the Rules Committee was then unanimously adopted by voice vote.


The Importance of Elections

After a recess for lunch the Convention reconvened at 2:00 p.m., and first heard a video message from Rachel Notley, a member of the Legislative Assembly and the leader of the Alberta New Democratic Party who spoke about the importance of elections. “Recently, Local 569, Edmonton, and Local 583, Calgary, mobilized to win important elections from city council to mayor.  You were focused and you were organized.  To those Albertans in the room, if you want a better government, I'm asking you for the same kind of support in this next election.”


Financial Secretary-Treasurer Awards

Next up was the Financial Secretary-Treasurer Awards, the Oscars, honoring the unsung heroes of our local unions who have distinguished themselves with service to their members with the ultimately challenging job. Award recipients were:

  • Salvador Morales-Local 398, Boise, ID
  • Harold Richardson-Local 1182, St. John, NB
  • Luann Bruno-Turpin-Local 1595, Pittsburgh, PA
  • Ralph Buccitti-Local 281, New Haven, CT
  • Mark Hodel-Local 752, Bloomington, IL
  • Dion Zacharias-Local 987, Lethbridge, AB
  • Rhealene Wagner-Local 615, Saskatoon, SK
  • Douglas Behr-Local 1267, Ft. Lauderdale, FL
  • Tanika Thompson-Local 1385, Dayton, OH
  • Toi Bowers-Local 241, Chicago, IL
  • Tommy Bellfield-Local 1005, Minneapolis & St. Paul, MN
  • Lawrence Prosser-Local 1091, Austin, TX


‘Stronger Together’

International President Costa then introduced A. Phillip Randolph Institute President, Clayola Brown who has addressed numerous pATU conventions. Brown reminded attendees about the power of trust with our members. “So establish your trust.  Make sure that people can trust you by what you say and what you do, be true to your union as your union is true to you.  Be true to each other and do those things that you know will make you Stronger Together.”


Gary Mauer Organizing Awards

Next up, ATU honored Locals for their organizing efforts with the Gary Mauer Organizing Awards presented by International President Costa and New Organizing Director Justin Panos. Awardees included:

  • Washington, DC-Local 689, 11 new units
  • Pittsburgh, PA-Local 1743, six new units
  • Austin, Texas-Local 1091, four new units
  • West Palm, Florida-Local 1577, three new units
  • Bridgeport, Connecticut-Local 1336, 2 new units
  • Hartford, Connecticut-Local 425, 2 new units
  • Springfield, Massachusetts-Local 448; 3 new units
  • Portland, Oregon-Local 757, 3 units
  • Arcadia, California-Local 1756, 214 workers or 20% of the local
  • Lethbridge, Alberta-Local 987, 22 workers in unit or 17% of the local (largest %)
  • Edmonton, Alberta-Local 569, 121 workers in unit (largest unit)


Convention was then adjourned until 8:30 a.m., Tuesday, September 20, 2022.