Skip to main content

Driving Change

Our Union’s commitment to protecting the rights of our members is unwavering. Securing powerful contracts that honor and appreciate the dedication and commitment of our members is absolutely crucial. Politics and legislation also play an important role, especially when it comes to safety measures and transit funding. With the upcoming election in the United States and a possible spark election in Canada, it is important to get involved to elect officials who are committed to passing policies that benefit our members. Bargaining, legislation, and politics aren’t the only tools we have to enact meaningful change. Our Union’s power lies in our collective action, including organizing and making the brave decision to go on strike for a fair contract.


Parliament Hill

The importance of politics for our Union was put into action at the ATU Canada’s Legislative Conference in Ottawa in March. I had the privilege of joining leaders from across the country. Together, we learned and lobbied for change. This conference comes on the heels of the successful strike of Local 107-Hamilton, ON, and the strike threat of Local 616-Windsor, ON. These Locals demonstrated that our Canadian members are ready to fight.

Together, we marched to Parliament as a united front to meet with Members of Parliament to advocate for more dedicated funding for transit operations and stronger penalties for assaults on transit workers.


Black Caucus

In early May, I had the honor of attending the Black Caucus in Maryland with more than 300 members from across our Union. Politics and the critical U.S. election were front and center, as delegates heard from an esteemed group of politicians. Maryland Governor Wes Moore, Representative Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Prince George’s County Executive and candidate for Maryland U.S. Senate Angela Alsobrooks, and others, all proudly thanked our Union and members for our support and reminded us of what’s at stake in the coming U.S. election in November.

With that in mind, we are gearing up for our upcoming U.S. Legislative Conference this June, which will be covered in the next magazine. It reminds us that our fight is the same cause in both of our countries, and our solidarity is more important now than ever.


A Big Win for Worker’s Safety

Ensuring the safety of our members at work is our top priority among the issues we advocate for. We need to change the culture of our transit agencies that only offer condolences to victims and their families without taking any real action to prevent further incidents. That’s why, in a huge win for our Union, we have successfully advocated for our members to be at the table to shift the decision-making on safety. Through Public Transportation Agency Safety Plans (PTASPs) labor-management safety committees that our Union fought for in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) recently published regulations that ensure we will now have an equal voice when it comes to strategies and solutions to protect ourselves on the job.


In Memory of Thomas Dunn

This victory is for our Local 1593-Tampa, FL, Brother Thomas Dunn, and all our members we’ve lost in the line of duty. A HART Bus Operator with a wife and young children, Brother Dunn, was tragically killed on the job by a mentally ill passenger in 2019. I was in Tampa for his solemn funeral in 2019. Now, it has come full circle for me as I traveled to Tampa to attend an event in May honoring Brother Dunn by naming a driveway on 21st St. “Thomas Dunn Way.” We were joined for this momentous event by Dunn’s family, our Local 1593-Tampa, FL, and Locals from across Florida. Also, on May 18 at 4:16 pm, all HART buses, vans, and streetcars came to a complete stop for a moment of silence in remembrance of when Thomas lost his life.

The ATU is fighting for the safety of our members from many different avenues, including playing a key role in the development of the Bus of the Future, which offers an innovative bus design that intends to improve operator security, vision from blind spots, ergonomics, and biohazard protection. I was on the ground in Toronto at Centennial College to tour the bus and the amazing work our members are doing through battery-electric bus training. This bus design could have saved Brother Dunn’s life, and it’s up to us to make sure that not one more of our members is killed on the job because they’re not protected.


Direct Action

Another powerful way we protect our members is through direct action. Local 689-Washington, DC, showed us the way when more than 650 Fairfax Connector operators and maintenance workers walked off the job in February. After a 15-day strike, where I proudly walked the picket lines, our members ratified a strong contract with contractor Transdev that achieved the Locals’ demands for better pay and benefits.

Our Local 113-Toronto, ON, has also demonstrated how to enact change through direct action after regaining their right to strike, which they lost for over a decade. With the contract for our largest Canadian Local expired on March 31, 2024, our Local is currently engaged in contract talks with the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC). Having the power to shut down public transit in Canada’s largest city is a game changer. Local 113, through its United to Win campaign under the direction of ATU International staff, has already started planning tactics for not only the negotiating table but also to mobilize thousands of our members through internal organizing.

Throughout our history, direct action has been instrumental in achieving significant wins for our Union. The ATU proudly continues the tradition of using direct action to turn our grievances into victories and our demands into realities.

Thank you to all of you who work tirelessly every day, whether lobbying elected officials, bravely going on strike, serving on a safety committee, or encouraging people to vote. Every action is the heartbeat of our mission: to ensure that every member’s voice is heard.