Media Center

Hope is on the Horizon

Despite its many challenges, ATU members met 2020 with courage and conviction. 

This year you put your lives on the line to serve the public during the COVID-19 pandemic. You stood up for racial justice after the murders of unarmed black citizens at the hands of police brutality and racism. Then, you helped save America’s democracy, making history, by getting out the vote for President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. 

The story of this U.S. election season is about the power of working people coming together to fight for change. 

Not only did voters come out in the largest numbers in the history of our country but we also elected Kamala Harris, the first Black and Asian-American woman to the nation’s second highest office.

Going forward, we assure you that your voices will be heard by working closely with this administration to advance our collective cause. As President-elect Joe Biden told us at our town hall meeting – the only one he held with a labor union – we now have a friend, a partner and an advocate in the White House. Together, we know we can accomplish great things.

One ATU family

Now is the time to heal. Instead of division, we need unity. Instead of chaos, we need calm. Regardless of who you voted for, we are still one ATU family, and our work together is far from over. In fact, it’s only just begun. 

The ATU will continue to provide the leadership
necessary to guide us through what is projected to be a dark winter. We will not let up on our urgent demand for what our members and our riders need to fight the pandemic from PPE to hazard pay to transit funding. 

This year, the ATU took the coronavirus head on by launching our Safe Service Now campaign, setting up a COVID-19 command center, and mobilizing members digitally and for socially distanced actions. 

The ATU also played a key role in successfully advocating and securing emergency transportation funding through the CARES Act and a COVID relief bill that was passed by Congress at the end of the year.

In Canada, ATU Locals secured $1.8 billion to be allocated for public transit, a reversal from the government’s earlier decision not to aid public transit at all. 

Through extensive media coverage and interviews on international, national and local news, we were able to raise our visibility and make the public realize how essential our jobs really are.

Honor our fallen ATU heroes

We will never forget our fallen ATU heroes who lost their lives this year to COVID-19. In their honor, we

will continue our fight to ensure you get home safely to your families. 

While fighting the pandemic, the ATU and our Locals continued to bargain contracts and win organizing campaigns. 

We started 2020 with a victory for Local 689-Washington, DC members after a strike of more than 82 days at Transdev Cinder Bed Road Bus Garage. This hard-fought contract ended the longest transit strike in the region’s history.

In New York, Local 1181-New York, NY was able to end a two week strike of MTA paratransit workers in Brooklyn and Staten Island to reach a contract agreement with private contractor MV Transportation. 

In Canada, Locals 1415-Toronto, ON, 1505-Winnipeg, MB and 987-Lethbridge, AB all saw their first organizing victories in almost a decade.

In California, Locals 192-Oakland, 265-San Jose, 256-Sacramento and 1575-San Rafael had more than 240 members participate in innovative labor-management mentorship and apprenticeship programs to advance their careers in the industry.

At the ballot box in Seattle, Washington and in Austin and San Antonio, Texas, our Locals played a critical role in the passage of transit initiatives that will save and expand jobs for ATU members.

Continue to work for a better future in 2021

In the coming year, as we build back our countries and our union from the loss of jobs and lives, we look ahead to what 2021 holds. 

As I write this column, our Locals and members in Georgia are mobilizing for Democratic candidates Jon Ossoff and Reverend Rafael Warnock in the key Senate runoff elections in early January that will determine the balance of power in the Senate. An ATU branded Ossoff-Warnock Express Bus is caravanning across the state to get members and riders to vote in this election. 

Together in 2021, we will work to expand our workforce development programs as well as our other critical training programs that we’ve moved online to continue this important work, despite the pandemic. 

There is encouraging news on effective COVID-19 vaccines. However, we must continue our fight for better protections for our members, not only from COVID-19, but from assaults, including our long-standing demand for safety shields for drivers. 

As we head into the future, our members’ voices and jobs will need to be at the forefront as advances in battery-powered electric buses become a reality. 

As always, we will also continue to bargain for better contracts for our members and more funding for transit. 

To say that 2020 was tumultuous is an understatement, but we’re ending it with hope. We’re ending it ready to continue to work for a better future for all workers.

And remember, Together We Fight, Together We Win!