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ATU Attends AFL-CIO Convention

The ATU has joined with the labor movement to aggressively fight to end the inequity in our countries that the pandemic has only further exposed. 

Every four years, the AFL-CIO, which the ATU is a member of, holds a convention to elect its officers. Delegates attending the convention are elected by their union and represent working people from across the country and from every job category. This year in Philadelphia, PA, the ATU joined our union siblings to choose our leaders, voice our preferences on policy, and set the agenda for how to build a bold, dynamic and inclusive movement that this moment urgently needs. 


Remembering Richard Trumka 

On the first night in Philadelphia, International President John Costa and International Secretary-Treasurer Ken Kirk attended an emotional Tribute to celebrate the life of the late AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, a close friend of the ATU. 


Day One: Historic AFL-CIO Elections 

It was a moving first day of the convention. Local 26-Detroit, MI, bus operator Eric Colts addressed the convention about the challenges of driving a public transit bus even before the pandemic and how our Union successfully won protections for our members, including PPE, bus shields, and more. Colts also talked about losing his best friend, Jason Hargrove, a 50-year-old fellow Detroit bus driver, to COVID after he posted a Facebook live video that went viral complaining about one of his passengers openly coughing numerous times without covering her mouth. 

Then it was time to elect who will lead the AFL-CIO. International President Costa was elected as a Vice President of the AFL-CIO Executive Council. In an historic first, Liz Shuler and Fred Redmond were elected as the first woman President and first Black Secretary-Treasurer at the AFL-CIO. In his role, Costa will continue to represent the interests of our members, our Union, and our industry in guiding the work and vision of the federation. 

Joining IP Costa and IST Kirk were elected ATU AFL-CIO delegates, Mark Henry, Local 1056-Flushing, NY, Kenneth Day, Local 1338-Dallas, TX, Keith Hill, Local 241-Chicago, IL, Pablo Gonzalez, Local 820-Union City, NJ, Printus Dates, Local 689-Washington, DC, and Shirley Block, Local 757-Portland, OR, along with Alternate Delegates Ken Franklin, Local 308-Chicago, IL, Jeffrey Di Perna, Local 85-Pittsburgh, PA, Troy Miller, Local 627-Cincinnati, OH, Jeff Richardson, Local 1342-Buffalo, NY, Chantel Daniels-Jones, Local 1197-Jacksonville, FL, and AFL-CIO Triangle (NC) Labor Council Delegate Terrence Dewberry, Local 1328-Raleigh, NC.


Day Two: The ATU Represents

On the second day of the convention, Local 689-Washington, DC, and Local President Raymond Jackson took center stage in recognition of their successful strike at the DC Circulator to win health care improvements, better retirement benefits, and substantial wage increases from contractor RATP Dev.

ATU Research Director Andrew Gena also spoke on a panel about our Union’s work with Carnegie Mellon University on a study on the impact of automation on our members and our industry. Gena talked about the importance of our members’ participation as frontline workers who know the challenges on the job.

U.S. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh addressed the delegates, thanking them for their service to our country and the importance of the labor movement in fighting for the rights and dignity of all workers. He also talked about how the DOL is working to promote unionization.


Day Three: The Most Pro-union President in History

It was an exciting third day of the convention. President Joe Biden delivered an impassioned speech thanking the labor movement for electing him, saying, “I will continue to be the most pro-union President in history.” He talked about the Infrastructure law, which our Union helped to get passed, with the highest investment in public transit in history, how the law will create “good paying union jobs,” and his commitment to getting the PRO Act passed.

Also, Democrat Candidate for Georgia Governor Stacey Abrams fired up delegates by talking about her campaign and the critical midterm elections. She urged all union members to “speak up, stand up, and show up at the polls to meet the moment to fight for our democracy!”


Standing In Solidarity with AFSCME 

The ATU delegation ended the day on the “Rocky” steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Costa, Kirk, and the ATU delegates showed our support to our brothers and sisters of the Philadelphia Museum of Art Union - AFSCME District Council 47 at a packed and raucous rally in their fight for a fair first contract after almost two years of negotiations. The ATU pledged a $5,000 donation to the workers’ strike fund. “We have a saying at the ATU, Together We Fight, Together We Win!” Costa chanted along with the inspired crowd of trade unionists. 

When workers are in a fight, the ATU is there in full force! It was an amazing week in Philadelphia, and our commitment to solidarity has never been stronger.