U.S. Legislative Conference 2021




For the final day of the 2021 ATU U.S. Legislative Conference, International President John Costa was joined by more than 200 U.S. Local Presidents/Business Agents and Financial Secretaries from across the ATU. IP Costa kicked off the day with International Secretary-Treasurer Ken Kirk discussing contributing to COPE and the impact it has on passing pro-transit legislation.

The first speaker was Inside Elections Editor and Publisher Nathan Gonzalez, offering expert analysis on the political landscape in the U.S. since the Georgia Senate runoff elections and what lies ahead and is at stake in the 2022 mid-term elections.

Attendees then heard from ATU Political staffer Clem Balanoff about International President John Costa’s commitment to get the ATU more involved in elections, the early endorsement and election of Joe Biden for President, and the critical role the ATU played in Georgia Senate runoff election victories. Balanoff also talked about how IP Costa continues to raise the profile of the ATU in the White House, on Capitol Hill and across the United States.

Up next was a close friend of the ATU and Local 268-Cleveland, OH and a proud progressive and union supporter, Ohio State Senator Nina Turner, who is running for Congress. The ATU endorsed Turner, who spoke at the 2016 ATU International Convention in Toronto, ON, pledged her continued support for public transit and working families and legislation to protect transit workers on the job when she is elected to Congress.

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, endorsed candidate for NYC Mayor by ATU NYC Locals 726-Staten Island, 1056-Flushing, 1179-Queens, and 1181-New York, spoke about his platform to fight crime, expand public transit in NYC to transit deserts, and support and protect the jobs of NYC School Bus workers. The working class and the blue-collar candidate, Adams, thanked the ATU for our endorsement.

U.S. Senator John Ossoff (D-GA), who the ATU helped to win in the Georgia Senate runoff election in January, sent a video message. Sen. Ossoff thanked ATU members and especially Locals 732-Atlanta and 1324-Savannah for their support for his election. He also praised ATU members for being frontline heroes, keeping communities moving throughout the pandemic, pledged to continue to support transit and unions in Congress, and push for passage of the American Jobs Plan.

Next up, attendees heard a video message from Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY). The Senator thanked International President Costa for his leadership and thanked the Locals in NYC. He offered condolences to Local 265-San Jose, CA, and the families of our brothers lost in the tragic shooting. Sen. Schumer talked about securing emergency transit funding during the pandemic and the push for legislation to support transit jobs, unions, and working families.

IP Costa and ATU Government Affairs Director Jeff Rosenberg discussed the importance of the ATU COPE program to our union and politics and increasing membership participation across our Union. A new ATU COPE website page was premiered featuring an interactive page to allow members to contribute, a downloadable COPE brochure, a QR code directing to the ATU COPE page and other features.

U.S. Rep. Andy Kim (D-NJ) and U.S. Rep. Julia Brownley (D-CA) participated on a panel led by ATU Government Affairs Director Jeff Rosenberg on the important role the ATU and labor plays in the political process and activism in elections and the legislative process in Congress. Both Representative thanked IP Costa and ATU Locals in their districts for mobilizing our members to re-elect them and secure a Democrat majority in Congress. They talked about the critical upcoming mid-term elections and the important role the ATU and unions play on the ground and financially to maintain Democrats control of Congress.

IP Costa wrapped up the 2021 ATU U.S. Legislative Conference stressing the importance of COPE contributions of our Locals across the United States by outlining a roadmap to increase participation of our members. IP Costa was able to demonstrate the clearest examples of our political involvement through our COPE program with a cast of senior elected and appointed officials and politicians and the election of the President of the United States Joe Biden.


ATU International Legislative Conference 2021 - Day Three



Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg kicked off day two of ATU 2021 U.S. Legislative Conference joining International President John Costa. Secretary Buttigieg thanked ATU members for keeping our communities moving throughout the pandemic and discussed the impact of layoffs on transit workers due to the pandemic, the importance of the mask mandate on public transit, the American Jobs Plan, raising the profile of transit workers and unions, and other issues impacting ATU and all transit workers.

Next up was former head of the Santa Clara (CA) VTA, FTA Administrator Nuria Fernandez, who spoke about her personal grief in the wake of the tragic shooting that took the lives of nine Local 265-San Jose union brothers. She also discussed the importance of job safety, closing the gaps of transit deserts for communities that depend on public transit, creating transit jobs, expanding safe and affordable transit service, and continued COVID-19 vaccine priority for transit workers.

Attendees then heard from former union leader and former Mayor of Boston, Secretary of Transportation Marty Walsh. He talked about his strong relationship with Boston Carmen’s Union, ATU Local 589 and spoke about the importance of the rights and respect of workers, the critical role public transit plays in our communities, and other issues impacting the ATU and our members.

IP Costa also paid tribute to longtime ATU General Counsel Robert Molofsky who announced his retirement after more than 35 years of service to ATU. Costa went on highlighting important moments in ATU history which Molofsky’s guidance was critical.

IP Costa was joined by ATU Workforce Development Coordinator Jamaine Gibson, Jobs to Move America’s Madeline Janis, and former transit agency head and current founder of Introducing Youth to American Infrastructure Dr. Bev Scott on a panel on the importance of workforce development and apprenticeship programs highlighting the need to provide opportunities for women and minorities in our industry career advancement in skilled crafts.

A friend to the ATU and Local 757-Portland, OR in his district, U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio, Chairman of the House Transportation Infrastructure Committee, addressed the conference about securing emergency transit funding during the pandemic and thanked IP Costa for his leadership in advocating for transit workers. Rep. DeFazio also discussed his INVEST in America bill to be marked up tomorrow. The bill has an unprecedented investment in public transit, the establishment of a National Workforce Training Center, improved worker safety, and other priorities that will benefit our union, our members and our industry.

IP Costa wrapped up the day with a discussion on the importance of ATU COPE, advice from Local leaders that have high membership involvement in COPE and called on all Locals to increase their COPE contributions and member participation in this critical program.


ATU International Legislative Conference 2021 - Day Two



Today, International President John Costa kicked off the 2021 ATU U.S. Legislative Conference via Zoom, thanking the Local Business Agents for their leadership during the pandemic and discussing the recent tragic shooting that took the lives of nine Local 265-San Jose, CA members. IP Costa talked about the importance of political action to fight for additional funding, increased safety measures and protocols, preparation for the ever changing technology in our industry, and the launch of a new effort to invigorate the ATU COPE program.

The attendees heard first from U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), who praised the heroism of ATU members keeping our communities moving throughout the pandemic and the importance of protecting transit workers on the job. Next up was AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka offering condolences for the San Jose tragedy and the ATU members lost to COVID-19. He went on to discuss the labor movement’s push to pass the PRO Act and other pro-union legislation.

Later in the day, IP Costa participated in a panel discussion with APTA President/CEO Paul Skoutelas and Transportation Learning Center (TLC) Executive Director Jack Clark on workforce development and apprenticeship programs to ensure our members are trained to deal with new technologies, including but not limited to zero emission vehicles. Attendees also heard from U.S. Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia (D-IL), a longtime friend of ATU and champion of public transit and working families.

To the end the day, ATU Government Affairs Director Jeff Rosenberg discussed ATU securing COVID relief funding and our union’s legislative priorities moving forward.

ATU International Legislative Conference 2021 - Day One