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Building This Great Union Together

It’s been a busy but inspiring time to be part of the ATU Executive leadership team. I’ve had the pleasure of joining International President John Costa and International Secretary,-Treasurer Kenneth Kirk, in visiting many of our Locals throughout the U.S. and Canada. We were able to meet with Local leadership and many of our brothers, sisters, and siblings throughout North America.  


Success That Comes with Solidarity

One common thread I saw during these site visits was the success that comes with solidarity. Whether it was a small Local or a large one, all were able to share fascinating stories of challenges that were overcome by uniting the Local membership to protect and improve the wages, benefits, and working conditions within our ATU family. 

We were also able to bear witness to the extraordinary work being done within the ATU mentoring and apprenticeship programs in building partnerships, creating career pathways, and preparing our members for changing technology in our industry.

We’ve also seen our health and safety committees secure strong language to improve workplace health and safety for our members. In the U.S., we must recognize and thank the Biden administration for the passing of the IIJA (Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act), which included the PTASP (Public Transportation Agency Safety Plan) provision, which requires certain public transportation agencies to work with our Locals and members to develop processes and procedures to implement a Safety Management system. The joint committees are tasked with reviewing and approving changes to the transit agency’s current safety plan, identifying hazards, and recommending ways to fix them. With the increase in assaults, violence and drug abuse on public transit, we must be sure to include recommendations to protect ourselves from these daily work hazards as well.


Our Mental Health

Let’s not forget about our mental health. It’s as important as our physical well-being.

Transit workers have traditionally been subject to chronic and acute stressors contributing to mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, and stress disorder. It’s not surprising that these issues can lead to an increased risk of injuries and chronic diseases and influence retention and recruitment. Our Union is working with the International Transportation Learning Center (ITLC), which is developing a comprehensive guidebook and interactive products to assist transit agencies in identifying and mitigating the factors that cause negative impacts on mental health, wellness, and resilience for transit workers.

You may have seen in-person trainings started, which will continue along with hybrid models on subjects such as new officer training, executive board training, steward training, health and safety, and women’s equity. Whether virtual or in person, our trainings have been filled with ATU family throughout the U.S. and Canada eager to learn and be a part of what the ATU stands for. 

If we are to continue to grow and build power within our Union, we must continue to educate ourselves. We must also know that when times are tough, it’s natural to look to others for that helping hand or someone to lighten the load, which is understandable, but also disempowering when we do this. What happens when no one is there to help us? We can’t rely on others. This is why we must take personal responsibility to get involved and help to continue to build our  great Union together.