Media Center

You are not alone

I have struggled to find the words to adequately express my appreciation of, and my concern for you – our ATU heroes – providing essential transportation throughout the U.S. and Canada. 

It’s also hard to find the words to express my anger at the recent murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and to the countless other families who have lost loved ones to police brutality and racism.

Nevertheless, I will try to express the feelings that come straight from my heart.

One of the problems of this incredibly difficult time is that the righteous anger over these unjust deaths is happening while we still face the danger posed by the Coronavirus pandemic.

Almost every day last month, I called a Local President to offer the International’s condolences over a member lost to Covid-19. Sadly, as of this writing, I have made over 50 phone calls. 

We should not forget our fallen heroes. You’ll find a special “Remember Our Fallen” memorial section in this magazine, which will also be continually updated on www.atu.org. 

Like you, I was outraged by the murder of George Floyd, who pleaded, “I can’t breathe,” as he was being murdered.

It made me sick to hear those all-too-familiar words, first uttered by Eric Garner, another African-American who was similarly suffocated during a 2014 arrest by a white New York police officer. You can’t unhear those heart-wrenching sounds which echo the cries of people of color who endure this kind of injustice every day. 

This heinous behavior must stop.

Furthermore, just as our operators have the right to refuse work they consider unsafe, so too our drivers have every right to refuse the dangerous duty of transporting police to protests and arrested demonstrators out of these communities – communities where many of our drivers themselves live. This is a misuse of public transit.

We have all the respect in the world for our fellow union sisters and brothers in our American police forces, but we will not be used as a tool to intimidate righteous protesters.  

I want you to know that you are not alone. We have launched the ATU “Safe Service Now Campaign,” demanding Coronavirus protections, and continued employment for our members.

As this virus respects no boundaries, our U.S. and Canadian locals have been more united than ever in this effort. We are also battling shoulder-to-shoulder with the Transport Workers Union of America (TWU) to protect our members and the riding public.

As you’ve so often heard, “we’re all in this together.” For union members that’s just another way of expressing “solidarity.” Solidarity sustains us in good times and bad, and if it means anything, it’s got to mean something now.  

Keeping well-informed is one way we’re going to beat this thing. So, pay attention to your local’s communications; sign up for ATU’s free email newsletter, the Dispatch; and check in regularly with our website – www.atu.org.

The first wave of the Spanish Flu arrived in North America in March 1918. The disease seemed to disappear in the summer, so people stopped taking precautions. But a second, more virulent wave came roaring back from September through November 1918, eventually killing over 700,000 Americans and Canadians – including many ATU members. 

We pray that this virus won’t act like the Spanish Flu. But it just makes sense to be cautious. 

So, don’t become complacent. Please observe all of the safety precautions health professionals recommend, and we’ll emerge from this stronger than ever.