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ATU: A Union that makes things happen

You will find no grass growing under our feet in the ATU these days. We are living up to our promises:

  • Training is expanding, and it is getting better. Throughout ATU our members are learning to
    do more.
  • We are running campaigns in Las Vegas, Atlanta, Washington, DC, fighting for member rights.
  • In congressional districts across the U.S. our Locals are fighting against Fast Track - Free Trade—also known as sending more jobs to China and Vietnam.
  • In Vancouver, BC, our Locals are campaigning for a referendum to raise funds for mass transit.
  • In Winnipeg, MB, this In Transit reports on Local 1505 conducting “ride-alongs” with elected officials.
  • In Ontario the campaign against privatization continues.
  • In Ohio our Locals are preparing a fight for transit funding.
  • In Alabama we are working to build a campaign for transit on the 50th anniversary of Rosa Parks’ arrest on a bus.

One ATU star is Bus Operator Karen Reed who, as a part of Local 689’s campaign for private sector transit workers, rose in a church packed with 850 activists to tell her story of working 65 hours a week but still being homeless while working for First Transit’s discount wages in the U.S. Capital. Her brilliant speech to the new mayor of Washington can be seen at under videos. Please watch this member tell the story about the impact it has on workers when private companies run transit.

In Scranton, PA, members of Local 168 have done a great job of organizing riders, and through the riders, preventing service cuts and layoffs. I am proud of the energy that is exploding around our Union.

While training continues, we are renovating our own new training center and as you will read in these pages, the General Executive Board has agreed with my recommendation to name our campus in honor of a couple of the best organizers in our two countries’  history, Rosa Parks and Tommy Douglas.

As you read their stories and feel their humanity I’m sure you will sense the power of their compassion for their fellow citizens. Both fought for the dignity of regular people and in winning health care for Canadians (Douglas) and civil rights for Americans (Parks) they set the bar for us all.

We hope that many generations of community and labor organizers will emerge from our trainings at the new campus. We expect a dedication of the new campus in Silver Spring, MD, in the late spring of 2015.

So much is coming together right now for the ATU - we are seeing great success in organizing both new members and our existing ones.

Finally, we are about to establish the Joint Industry Councils and at the same time put more resources into the safety of our members. The recent tragic death of Jake Schwab, a mechanic and member of Erie, PA, Local 568, brought to us a reality we are compelled to deal with. Too many of our mechanics work without proper training and without adequate safety procedures.

We promise to grow our safety campaigns – for mechanics to be trained and protected from hazards and bus operators to be protected from assaults.

Some Locals have really picked up the fight for bathroom breaks and their stories in this issue highlight the success your Local can have. This is again an issue of basic human dignity. So all in all, I can report with sincerity and with confidence that the ATU is, more and more, a Union that makes things happen.

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