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International Vice President Paul Bowen Retires

International Vice President Paul Bowen has announced his retirement, effective April 1, after 43 years as a dedicated and committed member of the ATU.

“From his leadership as President of Local 26-Detroit, MI, to serving on the Detroit Regional Transit Authority where he was appointed by the Detroit City Council, to getting members back to work and negotiating countless contracts, Paul has 43 years of extraordinary service to our Union,” said International President John Costa. “We wish Paul, his wife, and their family all the best in his retirement. He will be missed but leaves behind a legacy of remarkable accomplishments on behalf of working people.”

Born in Atlanta, Georgia, Bowen has been an ATU member since 1979 out of Local 26 in Detroit, where he was a bus operator for the Detroit Department of Transportation (DDOT). A year after being hired, Bowen and his fellow brothers and sisters were laid off. That sparked Bowen to get involved in his Local. He fought back against the layoffs by organizing protests of his fellow members to get their jobs back. Eleven days later, thanks to his efforts they were back to work. Another layoff in 1993 resulted in Bowen filing a complaint that ended up getting over a hundred drivers back to work.

In 1995 Bowen chaired a meeting of over 350 drivers challenging then-Mayor Archer about working conditions and equity in public transit. That’s when members asked him to run for office at his Local. In 1998 he ran for President and won, and again in 2001, he won reelection unopposed. In 2004, Bowen caught the attention of the International, and he was appointed International Vice President by International President Warren George and has been elected unopposed since then.

Some career highlights include organizing Local 1761-Charlotte, MI, and Local 1064-Terre Haute, IN, where the Local was awarded Labor Union of the Year for winning a strong contract for their members. Detroit City Council also appointed Bowen to sit on the Detroit Regional Transit Authority, and he had the distinguished honor of attending Harvard University for Labor Studies. One of his most memorable moments came when, in 2011, he met and shook the hand of the first black President, Barack Obama. He later worked on his campaign, garnering international coverage for getting out the vote.

“I would like to thank the ATU for allowing me this opportunity to serve my sisters and brothers in the U.S. and Canada. It’s been my honor. I got to work for amazing International Presidents John Costa, Larry Hanley, and Warren George, and alongside my fellow International Vice Presidents and staff. Together we fight and together we win. After 18 years of serving, the real MVP is my wife, Saundra, who has always been by my side. Thanks to the ATU, we are now looking forward to spending the golden years of our lives together.”