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57th Annual ATU International Black Caucus Conference: Leading Through Adversity

With the theme Leading Through Adversity, the ATU’s Black Caucus held its 57th Annual Conference in May in Maryland. More than 300 members from across North America gathered to discuss critical issues and ensure our Black brothers, sisters, and members are well represented.

ATU Black Caucus President Jeffrey Richardson, President/Business Agent, Local 1342-Buffalo, NY, kicked off the conference with host Locals 689-Washington, DC, and 1300-Baltimore, MD, welcoming everyone.

Next, presentations were made on Microtransit, Organizing, and other critical issues impacting our Locals and members.

The day continued with an impressive group of speakers, including Prince George’s County Executive and candidate for Maryland U.S. Senate Angela Alsobrooks, Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Rep. Kweisi Mfume (D-MD), Rep. Glenn Ivey (D-MD), Maryland State Senator Malcolm Augustine, and others.


Empowering Our Members

Day two was just as inspiring as the first, as the hundreds of delegates showed up in unity in their Black Caucus t-shirts to conduct the business of the Caucus and hear from another group of esteemed speakers.

After a moving dance performance from the award-winning teen Fearless Dance Empire, International President John Costa addressed the Caucus, recalling his days at New Jersey Transit and his rise to become International President. “When we work hard, fight for our members, anything is possible. The work this Caucus is doing is important. You can be assured that our Union is dedicated to education and training as a means to empower our Black members and all members,” said Costa, who has been attending the Black Caucus since the 1990s. “I want to thank you for the honor to represent you and the respect you have shown me. You make me proud to be a member of this great Union.”


Maryland is a Union State

Next, delegates heard from Loudoun County, Virginia, Supervisor Phyllis Randall, whose grandfather was a member of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porter, who spoke about being proud to be called a “Union Thug” for her support for the successful strike by our Local 689 Loudoun County Transit members.

After Randall, Maryland Governor Wes Moore took the stage to deliver a rousing speech, thanking Costa, Local 1300 President/Business Agent Mike McMillian, and Local 689 President/Business Agent Raymond Jackson for their leadership and support. “To have you all here in Maryland means a big deal because to be very clear: We are Maryland Strong because Maryland is Union Strong,” said Moore. “You do not understand my story if you do not understand the power of Labor,” Moore said after telling the story of his union family roots. “There is no way I would be the 63rd Governor of the state of Maryland, only the third Black Governor ever elected in the history of this country if it was not for Labor.”

In the afternoon, the Caucus surprised International President Costa with the Black Caucus Appreciation Award for his years of dedication to the Caucus.

International Executive Vice President Yvette Trujillo and International Secretary-Treasurer Ken Kirk had an opportunity to speak to the Caucus, thanking them for their commitment and dedication to our Union. Also in attendance were International Vice Presidents Marcellus Barnes, Gary Johnson, Curtis Howard, Anthony Garland, Amanda Sawyer-Turner, Mark Henry, and Ken Day.

The Black Caucus, like all ATU’s Caucuses, is an independent and member-driven organization that advocates for all ATU members. Let’s not underestimate the power of caucuses in strengthening and advancing our Union. They are crucial for building a united front, promoting solidarity, and achieving our common goals. Let’s continue to support and participate in these caucuses to ensure that our voices are heard, and our interests are protected. Thank you to all our Black Caucus members for a great showing and for being so passionate and dedicated to our Union.