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Training

We have spent a lot of time and resources training local officers, and increased that over the last several years since we own a training center.  We have introduced a few different ideas to our officers.


Training for negotiations

First, is that we should not casually agree to “bargaining rules.” They are usually designed to neuter the union. Sometimes Locals agree, for example, to not talk to their own members during bargaining. 

This is suicide.

We urge your officers to open communication with the members. That’s not to say that every word in bargaining is made public, but the members must know what issues are at stake and the tone of the bargaining. This should come from your president, not independently from other people at the bargaining.

Second, we cannot give up the right to talk to the press. No contract should be “negotiated” in the press, but when we have issues of public concern, we cannot give up our right to speak out – ever.

Third, with a shrinking labor movement and constant attacks on unions, we must, must, must build relationships with our riders. Transit and our Union are under attack. That affects us and our riders. There was never a more natural alliance than us with our riders.


Malpractice

It is malpractice if our Local Unions ignore the power of organizing our riders. There are 100 riders for every active member in your city. What are you waiting for? Start a rider organization, get connected to one if it exists!

The issues of our members and our riders, at the fundamental level, are the same. But often we let politicians and bosses turn our riders against us. This should be a topic at every union hall. School bus Locals need to know and work with parents, transit and paratransit Locals with riders and special needs advocates. As local budgets and the federal budget cut transit, we need a bigger voice. It is right there waiting for you.


Anti-worker forces

The anti-worker forces are coming again to take away your right to have a strong voice at work through your Union. Backed by billionaires and given huge budgets to destroy unions, they will get their U.S. Supreme Court to change the rules to allow freeloaders to not pay union dues. 

And their counterparts in Canada will be watching what happens in the U.S. as they make plans to do the same.

ATU has led the way in preparing for this, but please consider that the power of the union is not just in organizing our coworkers, it’s in organizing the people with whom we share a third of our lives – our passengers.

Any Local Union in need of help in organizing riders should call my office. We are fully committed to this effort. Next issue, we will salute the rider groups and Locals they work with.