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ATU Mourns Passing of International President Larry Hanley

The Amalgamated Transit Union and the entire labor movement lost a trailblazing leader and working class champion on May 7, 2019, when Lawrence J. “Larry” Hanley, International President, passed away.

Under Hanley’s leadership, the ATU was transformed into one of the fiercest and most progressive unions in the labor movement, aggressively advocating for more and better public transportation and fighting for social, racial, and economic justice for all working people.

Hanley devoted more than 40 years of his life to the ATU and the broader labor movement. He was a tireless and tenacious advocate for his members, transit riders, and all trade unionists.

Hanley began driving a bus in 1978, at age 21, in Brooklyn, NY, and attended his first union meeting that September as a member of the Transport Workers Union (TWU).
In 1979, he transferred to Staten Island and became a member of ATU Local 726-Staten Island, NY. On his
first strike, he was renowned for walking the picket line
every day and night. 

He became a shop steward, helped lead a takeover of his borough’s Democratic party machine, and was elected as the youngest president of Local 726. In that role, he pioneered worker-rider organizing, leading thousands of union members and transit riders in a successful effort to reform the way transit service was provided on Staten Island. He ran the Staten Island operation of David Dinkins’ successful campaign for mayor of New York and helped found New York’s Working Families Party. 

In 2002, Hanley rose to become an ATU International Vice President before being elected as a reformer to the office of International President in 2010. As International President, Hanley restructured the ATU to better fight back against rising privatization of public transit and to protect the livelihoods of transit workers. 

One of the many hallmarks of Hanley’s storied career was recognizing the power and strength that can be achieved in uniting transit workers and riders in the fight for better public transportation. He also firmly believed that an educated member was a powerful one and made it his mission to develop one of the most far-reaching training programs in the history of organized labor. Because of his efforts and commitment, thousands of ATU members have been trained and inspired to fight for justice in their communities.

Hanley is survived by his wife Thelma, his daughter Monica, and his son Lawrence, Jr.