With $85 billion for transportation, the ATU applauds
Biden’s American Jobs Plan

With robust investment in transportation to expand public transit and modernize our nation’s crumbling infrastructure, the ATU applauded President Biden’s comprehensive $2 trillion American Jobs Plan unveiled this week in Pittsburgh, PA. “Working people, including our frontline hero members, continue to bear the brunt of this unprecedented pandemic economically and emotionally. Our Union has lost more than 140 brothers and sisters to this deadly virus. As our nation continues to recover, safe, affordable, and accessible public transit for all will play a critical role in keeping our
communities and economies moving as it has throughout this crisis,” said International President John Costa, pointing to $85 billion for transportation in Biden’s plan. For years, the ATU has been pushing for investment at a federal and state level in our nation’s transit systems and crumbling infrastructure. The pandemic has heightened that need, and with President Biden in office and Pete Buttigieg as Secretary of Transportation, now is the time to make it happen. “We urge Congress to take immediate action to pass this bill for a stronger, more just economy for all,” said Costa.

ATU remembers our fallen brothers and sisters

Since the coronavirus pandemic hit North America more than a year ago, it has left an unforgettable mark on our Union. The deadly pandemic has infected thousands and taken the lives of hundreds of transit workers, including our own ATU members. We have lost 147 brothers and sisters to this devastating virus since the pandemic hit North America. International President John Costa sends our Union’s deepest condolences to their families, extended families, friends, and all the members of their Locals. The call to honor the lives of those we’ve lost is renewed by the ATU demanding our government and transit agencies do more to protect our members. We honor the memory of our fallen by continuing to fight to ensure our brave sisters and brothers who are keeping our communities moving can safely go home to their families. Click below to visit our “Remember OurFallen” page on the ATU website.

Portland Local reaches strong tentative agreement with wage increases while preserving apprenticeship programs

After a year and a half of tense negotiations, discussions, legal battles, a deadly pandemic, fires, and an aggressive member-driven campaign, Local 757-Portland, OR reached a strong tentative agreement with TriMet. The deal includes wage increases, better benefits, and other improvements including retaining TriMet’s apprentice and training programs. “I am proud of the ATU757 negotiating team and membership for persevering through this process. Avery special thank you to ATU International and all of the folks they sent to help us make this final push,” said Local President Shirley Block. “We have fought hard for the wins in this contract because we believe that our frontline workers are heroes and deserve fair wages and working conditions.” The Local waged an aggressive campaign to put pressure on TriMet management by mobilizing members and engaging elected officials along with phone blitzes, emails, and other tactics to help secure this deal. “This is a great victory for the members of Local 757. Congratulations to their leadership and negotiating team for securing a strong and hard-fought deal that recognizes the bravery and commitment our Local 757 brothers and sisters have displayed made to keep their community moving since this pandemic began,” said ATU International John Costa. “By preserving TriMet’s apprenticeship and training programs, our members can continue to gain critical knowledge, experience, and skills to further their careers and keep up with the changing technology in our industry.”

Minneapolis Local tells Metro Transit “Time’s Up!” for a new contract

With signs reading “Time’s Up!” and “Where in the world is Wes Kooistra?”, more than 200 Local 1005-Minneapolis, MN, rallied outside negotiations for
two days demanding a fair contract that addresses safety concerns and pay increases. “We need them to recognize your safety, especially in a time of a pandemic where you all have been risking your lives, risking your family’s lives, risking your friend’s lives,” Local President Ryan Timlin told members at the rally. In the fall, 94% of the Local’s members rejected a final contract from Metro Transit management and voted to move forward with a strike if necessary. The Local has kicked their campaign for a contract into high gear. They say that, despite hundreds of millions of dollars in bailout money from the federal government and a holiday surge in COVID-19 infections among working members, Metro Transit management continues to refuse to discuss critical safety issues or pay workers wage increases that are on par with other similar-sized employers in the industry.

Winnipeg Local pushes for vaccine priority for frontline hero transit workers

While many transit workers in the U.S. are now eligible for COVID-19 vaccines, Local 1505-Winnipeg, MB, is demanding transit drivers be added to the province's vaccination priority list immediately. “We can’t be complacent anymore. We can’t just rely on luck to get us through this,” said Local President Romeo Ignacio. The Local says members are dealing with fear and anxiety about the new COVID-19 variants that have the potential to shut down critical service if enough drivers become sick. “They’re very scared and concerned about their wellbeing and their families because, at the end of the day, they have to go home,” said Ignacio. “But we understand we have to keep the buses going, so we just need more protections for our operators.” There have been at least 15 positive cases among the Local membership that have resulted in some drivers going on stress leave and taking early retirement. The ATU has been pushing for vaccine priority for frontline essential transit workers in both Canada and the U.S.

Help ATU members impacted by Nashville flash floods

Some of the heaviest rainfall in Nashville’s history caused flash flooding that killed at least four people last weekend. These dangerous floods have destroyed homes and property in many communities where ATU members work and live. From the Texas winter storms to Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Sandy to tornadoes in Oklahoma to flooding in Alberta, ATU members have supported our brothers and sisters in dire need. Now it’s time we show our support again. We call on all ATU Locals and members to help our brothers and sisters impacted by the flash floods in Nashville, TN, by contributing to the ATU Disaster Relief Fund.

International President John Costa discusses the pandemic, ATU heroes, and more on America’s Work Force Radio

Discussing how transit workers have been among the hardest hit by the pandemic, International President John Costa joined America’s Work Force Union Podcast this week. Costa talked with host Ed “Flash” Ferenc about how the ATU has dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic, secured federal transit funding, pushed for vaccine priority, and other issues. “We never had this in the playbook, a pandemic like this hitting us and trying to figure out how do you deal with this, especially our members being frontline workers and not having the ability to work from home,” Costa told listeners. He discussed how the ATU secured $30 billion in federal funding in the American Rescue Plan to stop layoffs, provide more PPE, keep service on the street, and more. As for upcoming contract negotiations, Costa says transit workers have not been treated fairly, despite transit agencies praising them for keeping their communities moving throughout the pandemic. “They call us heroes, and at the table, they want to give us zeros, so it’s been a crazy ride,” said Costa. Listen here.

Seattle Local helps their brother in need

In October 2020, Local 587-Seattle, WA, Brother Al Ramey’s wife, Ruth, suffered a catastrophic medical emergency sending her to a rehab facility. In order for Brother Ramey to be able to bring Ruth home, a wheelchair ramp was needed at the home they have lived for 60 years. Recognizing their union brother of 69 years needed help, members of the Local sprang into action. They came together and built a wheelchair ramp at the Ramey’s home so he could safely bring his wife home after rehabbing from a stroke. The ATU applauds Local 587 members Michael Moore, Elizabeth Boyle, Kevin Carrere, Donavan Baker, Dwight Raine, Michael Shea, and Jeffery Jackson for their selfless act, generosity, kindness, and hard work to help their fellow union brother in need.

ATU Canada joins with the coalition to warn of dire consequences if feds Don’t Renew “Safe Restart” Transit Money

Warning of massive transit service reductions and job losses, ATU Canada joined with the Keep Transit Moving Coalition to call on the federal government to extend its Safe Restart Agreement with additional emergency operational transit funding. Comprised of transit rider advocacy groups, community organizations, and labor unions, the coalition pointed to a poll showing 78% of Canadians believe that transit should be a key part of that recovery from the pandemic. “Prioritizing public transit is now a key part of climate action in the U.S., and it must be in Canada too,” said ATU Canada President John Di Nino. “If this government is serious about climate action, protecting the jobs of transit and essential workers and helping the most marginalized Canadians, they will do the right thing and sit down with provinces and extend the Safe Restart Agreement and give transit agencies across the country the funding they need.” Last year, the Safe Restart Agreement provided provinces more than $2 billion in critical federal funding for public transit.

Make your Easter union-made

As you head to the grocery store for your last-minute shopping for Easter, make sure your shopping list has union-made ingredients on it. Buying union helps support good jobs that provide a living wage, benefits, safe working conditions, and dignity and respect on the job. Labor 411 has compiled a list of products made by union members just like you. From Peeps to Butterball ham, some of the biggest companies have union workers to thank for putting food on our tables. The best way you can thank a union member is by buying union-made this Easter.