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‘Our survival will be found in our solidarity… or not’

As 2018 begins ATU looks back on an eventful year. Significant campaigns were, and continue to be run in both of our countries. In Canada, we continue an anti-privatization campaign throughout Ontario. In the U.S., we have every kind of fight going on over privatization, workplace safety, and surviving a government that is dedicated to lower wages.

The mask is off the Trump administration and it is clear that what you get is NOT what you were promised. Hard to avoid the conclusion that many working people got suckered into voting for this.

2018 will bring attacks on “entitlements.” Entitlements are benefits like Social Security and Medicare that are actually earned by workers. 

The United States has chosen to not pay its bills. We could, if we didn’t have the world’s biggest military. Working people pay for that military even though it really exists to protect the billionaires and their businesses. 

It keeps the oil flowing and the shipping lanes open. We have military bases and troops in more than 100 countries, but we couldn’t save Puerto Rico from months of subhuman living after a storm.

Treasonous billionaires

So treasonous billionaires use our money to protect their businesses. But, they keep their money overseas to avoid taxes.

Then Congress obediently gives them tax forgiveness, begging them to “repatriate” their money. Repatriate... Then, the Republicans borrow $1.5 trillion to give these un-patriots more money, using workers’ money to foot the bill.

2018 is when the check comes to the table. Except in this game, those who partied never pay. The eating goes on at one table, the paying at the other.

We don’t have time for “I told you so.” This will be a time for pulling together all our forces. There will be outright attacks on our Union in the next six months designed by the same folks who designed the tax legislation.

They mean to strip down your ability to survive in a union. They will attack the structure of the union including our finances.

The wolf is not at the door, he’s in every room in the house.

Our survival will be found in our solidarity... or not. It’s up to you.

Who runs the ATU?

Every ATU Local is required to hold monthly union meetings. Every member should attend. It is at these meetings that the business of your Local is decided. Votes take place. Plans are approved. Contracts and benefits are discussed. 

If you don’t go, you are turning over your involvement, your voice, your vote to those who do. Think about spending an hour a month as part of the union conversation.

Who should not run the ATU?

From time to time we hear really awful stories about local union attorneys crossing the line. Our attorneys are hired to give us legal advice, not to run union strategy, decide what a good contract is, or tell us how to stop a politician.

Many attorneys I have worked with are wonderful people. Some have done heroic things for the labor movement. Unfortunately, often some good attorneys can’t stay in their lane and limit their contribution to what they understand – the law. We should show them the respect they deserve as union-side attorneys.

But they need to show us the respect we deserve as adults  able to make decisions without being belittled. If union attorneys tell members they are “too dumb to understand the contract,” or threatening that members “better accept a deal or else...” they need to be reminded whose union this is.

If your Local is facing serious outside threats, especially since the courts are being taken over by right wingers, don’t count on lawyers or courts to save you. This Union was built by transit workers – not consultants. You cannot sue or arbitrate your way to power.

Power is what you need to win. The members, once informed and organized are the power builders. Almost 100% of the challenges we face are potential rallying points for our riders. We have 100 riders for every active member. Give thought to that.

Put your faith in your members and your riders – not a couple of lawyers and a judge.