Media Center

May 20

John A. Costa chosen to serve as ATU International President

Issues resounding call to arms to ATU members

With the untimely and tragic passing of ATU International President Larry Hanley, the ATU General Executive Board has chosen International Vice President John A. Costa to serve as ATU International President until the next ATU Convention set for September 2019.  

“It is an honor and privilege to be chosen as International President by our General Executive Board to serve the more than 200,000 members of this great union,” Costa said. “It has been a very difficult time as we mourn the passing of International President Larry Hanley – a once-in-a-lifetime transformational and trailblazing leader who brought our union to new heights.”

Costa, who has served as an International Vice President since 2010, issued a resounding call to arms to ATU members and put the industry on notice that every member deserves a livable wage, and safe and healthy working conditions, and our riders and their communities deserve the best possible transit service.

“From Pensacola, FL, to Port Alberni, BC, from San Diego, CA, to St. John’s, NL, and everywhere in between, our members will join together in a renewed crusade to honor Hanley’s memory and continue his work to fight for the rights of all transit workers; more, better and affordable public transit, and social, racial and economic justice for all,” said Costa.

Vowing to build on the passion, programs and policies which marked Hanley’s legacy, Costa pledged to push back against the rising privatization of public transit, and protect the livelihoods, health and safety of all transit workers.

Known for his tough negotiating style and fresh off a precedent-setting contract agreement for DASH bus drivers in Alexandria, VA, Costa pledged to fight for fair wages and benefits for all ATU members. “No longer will we settle for incremental changes for our members,” Costa said. “We will push for strong wages and benefits that recognize the critical role we play in our communities to safely transport people to work, school, medical appointments and other destinations.”

Echoing the “One ATU” campaign that brought Hanley and Costa into office in 2010, Costa vowed to fight the anti-worker, anti-transit politicians and their wealthy funders. “While President Donald Trump and Premier of Ontario Doug Ford seek to divide us, we are one Union, one labor movement, and together we will rise up to take on and turn back those forces who seek to strip our members and all working people of their hard-earned rights,” Costa said.

Costa takes the helm of ATU just days after the tragic fatal stabbing of Tampa bus driver and ATU Local 1593 member Thomas Dunn and demanded action to stop the senseless epidemic of attacks on transit workers.

“Our hearts and prayers go out to the family of Thomas Dunn and our brothers and sisters of Local 1593 in Tampa. Unfortunately, this brutal murder is not an isolated incident. Every week, we hear stories about bus drivers and other transit workers being punched, stabbed, yelled at, spit upon, shot at and even worse,” Costa continued.  “No one should have to live in fear that they might die or even get hurt at work. In the U.S, it’s long overdue for Congress to pass the Transit Worker and Pedestrian Protection Act that will ensure critical major safety changes in all transit systems.”

This legislation would provide more protection by requiring U.S. transit agencies to create risk- reduction plans, and install physical barriers to protect drivers. Also, it would require U.S. transit agencies to report on a wider range of incidents. The bill is gaining momentum on Capitol Hill, with more than 133 members of Congress co-sponsoring the bill.

A native of Newark, NJ, Costa began his career at NJ Transit in 1981, joining Local 819-Newark, NJ. He served his Local union in various capacities, ultimately being elected president in 2001 and serving three terms until 2008. Costa was elected as International Vice President at the 2010 ATU Convention. He served as president of the ATU New Jersey State Council from 2008-2010. Costa also previously served as Vice President of the Executive Board of the New Jersey AFL-CIO and Vice President of the Essex-West Hudson Labor Council. He resides in Monmouth County, NJ, with his wife and has two daughters and two grandchildren.