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For the Working Class

As President Joe Biden seeks reelection in the U.S., we must remind ourselves that his term has been marked by a commitment to infrastructure, with a particular focus on public transit systems. Since taking office, his Administration has spearheaded ambitious investment plans aimed at modernizing transportation networks throughout the country. 

President Biden’s IIJA (Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act) included up to $108 billion for public transit representing the largest federal investment in U.S. history. This infusion of funding addressed a wide array of challenges faced by transit systems, including outdated infrastructure, limited accessibility, and environmental sustainability.

These federal funds helped create good-paying jobs and provided significant wage increases for our members in many ATU Locals throughout the U.S. It facilitated the implementation of Fair Labor Standard Practices and provided opportunities allowing us to expand our workforce development and training programs. 

What’s clear is the Biden Administration is committed to ensuring that workers have the skills and support they need to thrive in an evolving industry. We need leadership that will work with our Union to ensure that our Locals and our members are prepared for changes coming to our industry with autonomous vehicles and emerging electric bus technology.

As a woman in transit, it has been important for me to see that we have a U.S. President who has taken steps to help empower women economically. The wage increases we were able to receive under this Administration were life-changing for many within our Union and have had a profound impact on helping to lift women and their families out of poverty by providing good-paying Union jobs in public transit.

We also know that transit workers are under attack, and women are more likely to be victims. During International President John Costa’s first month in office, our Local 1593-Tampa, FL, Brother Thomas Dunn was tragically murdered on the job. Costa immediately made it a priority to demand our employers, transit agencies, and elected officials in both the U.S. and Canada do more to protect our members from assault and other workplace violence.

In Canada, In March, I had the honor to attend the ATU Canada Legislative Conference with International President Costa in Ottawa, ON, where we joined with our Local leaders to meet with Members of Parliament to lobby to amend the Criminal Code to change the definition of a transit operator to all transit workers.

In the U.S. our Union has pushed for legislation to better ensure the safety of our members. The Biden Administration heard us and has allowed transit workers to be empowered to make our systems safer for our members through the now finalized PTASP (Public Transit Agency Safety Plan) rule. We know that the establishment and implementation of safety committees did not happen as quick as we would have liked to see, but the final rule does give clear requirements on some issues that were delaying the process. We believe this new rule will be a tool to help us hold management accountable and help us build effective committees that will not only improve working conditions but gives us a stronger voice on workplace safety issues.

While some may have an opinion that differs from mine, I have seen first-hand while advocating for us that we need a U.S. President who is committed to public transportation and women’s rights.

As we consider our choices in the critical U.S. election in November, it is crucial for us to recognize the impactful changes President Biden has brought to public transportation. His continued leadership promises further advancements not only for us and our families but for all of the working class.