|Full name||Amalgamated Transit Union|
Lawrence J. Hanley, International President; Javier M. Perez, Jr., International Executive Vice President; Oscar Owens, International Secretary-TreasurerMike Mahar, Canadian Director
|Office location||Washington, DC|
|Country||United States, Canada|
ATU Canadian Council
The Amalgamated Transit Union is a labor organization in the United States and Canada that represents employees in the transit industry. Established in 1892 as the Amalgamated Association of Street Railway Employees of America, the union was centered primarily in the Eastern United States; today, ATU has over 190,000 members throughout the United States and Canada.
The union was founded in 1892 as the Amalgamated Association of Street Railway Employees of America. The union has its origins in a meeting of the American Federation of Labor in 1891 at which president Samuel Gompers was asked to invite the local street railway associations to form an international union. Gompers sent out a letter to the local street railway unions in April 1892, and based on the positive response arranged for a convention of street railway workers.:121 The convention began on 12 September 1892 in Indianapolis, Indiana, attended by fifty delegates from twenty-two locals. Many of the smaller unions were affiliated with the AFL, while four larger locals were affiliated with the Knights of Labor and two were independent.:122
The first president was William J. Law from the AFL-affiliated local in Detroit.:122 Detroit was chosen as the headquarters, using the same facilities as the Detroit local.:123 Because the number of members affiliated with the Knights of Labor was greater than the numbers affiliated with the AFL, according to the claims of the delegates, the new international remained unaffiliated despite pleas by Gompers.:123 The objectives included education, settlement of disputes with management, and securing good pay and working conditions. The international was given considerable authority over the locals.:124
The second convention was held in Cleveland in October 1893, with just fifteen division represented by about twenty delegates.:129 At this meeting William D. Mahon became president, and he still held this position in 1937. By then the union had been renamed the Amalgamated Association of Street, Electric Railway and Motor Coach Employees of America.:121 The union struggled in the early years as the transit companies followed the practice of firing union activists. In the 1897 meeting in Dayton, Ohio, there were twenty delegates. The treasury of the union now had $4,008.:141 An early achievement was to have laws passed in a dozen states by 1899 that mandated enclosed vestibules for the motormen. Wages were close to $2 a day where the union was established, and in Detroit and Worcester the nine-hour day had been achieved, although in most cities ten or eleven hour day were normal.:142
At the start of the 20th century the Amalgamated Association launched a militant organizing program. Although the union was always willing to arbitrate in disputes, there were many strikes against the streetcar companies. Often these turned violent. The public and small businesses sympathized with the strikers, and passengers and other unions often became involved in the street actions.:3 When buses began to replace streetcars, the association began to be challenged by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Chauffeurs, Stablemen and Helpers. It was agreed that the Amalgamated Association would have jurisdiction over buses operated by street railway companies, while the Teamsters would have jurisdiction over independent bus lines and over road transportation of goods.:242
The ATU is the largest labor organization representing transit workers in the United States and Canada, with over 190,000 members in over 240 local unions spread across 46 states and nine provinces. The main membership is comprised primarily of transit operators, though the union also includes more than 800 members working in over 80 craft occupations. ATU represented job classifications include bus, van, subway, and light rail operators, clerks, baggage handlers and maintenance employees in urban transit, over-the-road and school bus industries, as well as emergency medical service personnel, ambulance operators, clerical personnel, and municipal workers. The ATU can be found in most major cities of the United States and Canada.
The Union is governed by an international president, international executive vice president, international secretary treasurer, and 18 international vice presidents who are elected every three years at the ATU’s International Convention. The 18 international vice presidents form the Union’s General Executive Board.
The office of International President is currently held by Lawrence J. Hanley, who was first elected to the position in October 2010. The International Secretary-Treasurer is Oscar Owens, a position he has held since January 2001. Javier M. Perez, Jr. was unanimously elected to the position of International Executive Vice President in August 2013.
In addition to the executive officers, the ATU utilizes four international representatives, appointed by the International President, and a Canadian Director, elected by the members of the ATU Canadian Council. The current Canadian Director is Michael Mahar, a position he has held since late 2012.
As currently structured, the Amalgamated Transit Union consists of over 220 local unions throughout North America.
ATU Local 587 is the largest ATU local on the West Coast of the United States. Local 587 represents employees of King County Metro and numerous other properties. ATU Locals 192 and 1555 are located in the California Bay Area, representing tens of thousands of employees of AC Transit and Bay Area Rapid Transit.
ATU Local 689, based in Forestville, MD, represents over 10,000 members of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. ATU Local 589, chartered in Boston, MA, is responsible for representing the employees of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. The largest ATU local in the Southern United States is Local 732, from Atlanta, GA, representing employees of the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority, among other properties.
Established in 1982, the Amalgamated Transit Union Canadian Council represents workers in various Canadian transit systems and other industries. It is the highest authority and voice in Canada for the ATU on all issues of Canadian interest, including legislation, political, educational, health and safety, cultural and social welfare matters.
Canada is home to over 30 ATU Locals, located in nine different provinces and territories. The largest ATU Canada local is Local 113, located in Toronto, ON, representing over 10,000 members of the Toronto Transit Commission. Other large Canadian locals can be found in Ottawa, ON (Local 279), Mississauga Halifax, NS (Local 508), Winnipeg, MB (Local 1505) and Calgary, AB (Local 583).
Political and Legislative Activities
In addition to membership servicing, the ATU is actively engaged in several progressive political causes. Beyond promoting increased transit funding energy independence and the maintenance of a strong, publicly-funded transit system, the ATU is involved in advocating for a number of social justice topics.
In 2008, the ATU endorsed Hillary Clinton in her unsuccessful bid for the Democratic Presidential nomination; after she conceded defeat, the ATU endorsed Barack Obama in his bid to become President.
In November 2010, the ATU, the Transportation Equity Network (TEN), the Transport Workers Union (TWU), other labor unions, and transit advocates convened a "boot camp" in Chicago, IL. Activists from varying backgrounds discussed the issues facing both union members and transit riders, and identified opportunities to work together in the future to address the nation's transit crisis. The ATU and Good Jobs First convened a second boot camp for transit advocates in Silver Spring, MD in March 2011.
The ATU was named "Most Valuable National Union" in The Nation magazine's Progressive Honor Roll of 2012 for its support of the Occupy movement, the National Day of Action for Public Transportation, and other social justice issues.
|1892||Indianapolis, Indiana||Amalgamated Association of Street Railway Employees of America is founded in September 1892|
|1900||St. Louis||St. Louis Streetcar Strike of 1900|
|1903||As streetcars powered by electricity became more common, the name is changed to the Amalgamated Association of Street and Electric Railway Employees of America.|
|1908||Chicago||Chicago Tunnel Company refuses to recognize the Amalgamated Association. On 9 May all workers go on strike. Company uses strikebreakers to break the strike.|
|1909||Omaha||An attempt to organize Omaha streetcar workers fails when armed strikebreakers are brought in.|
|1910||Philadelphia||The streetcar union launches a strike in February 1910. Violence breaks out, and the strike escalates into a general strike of unions in all industries on 4 March, involving about 100,000 workers. After three weeks the Philadelphia Rapid Transit Company agrees to negotiate.|
|1912||Boston||Boston street car workers go on strike. After two months they gain the right to form a trade union, and a system of arbitration for future disputes is agreed upon. President Mahon cedes jurisdiction over carpenters, painters, electricians, and other skilled trades to the AFL. The union's membership is divided into 34 distinct labor units, each with a separate agreement negotiated with the company's representative Cyrus S. Ching.|
|1913||Indianapolis, Indiana||Indianapolis Streetcar Strike of 1913 starts on 31 October. After rioting, the Indiana National Guard is brought in and the city placed under martial law on 5 November. As a result, Indiana enacts laws that set minimum wages, regular hours and workplace improvements.|
|1916||Washington, D.C.||Workers on streetcars in Washington, D.C. are organized when local 689 of the Amalgamated Association wins recognition after a three-day strike.|
|1935||Omaha||On 20 April 1935 a long and violent strike begins in Omaha, but is not successful.|
|1936||New York, New York||Negotiations for the Transport Workers Union to join the Amalgamated Association break down.|
|1944||Philadelphia||Despite opposition from the union, white workers walk out from August 1–8 in the Philadelphia transit strike of 1944 in an attempt to prevent black workers being given non-menial jobs. Troops are brought in and the workers return to work having failed to achieve their goal.|
|1964||Name is changed to Amalgamated Transit Union|
|1966||New York, New York||In the 1966 New York City transit strike the Transport Workers Union (TWU) and the ATU both go on strike against the New York City Transit Authority. The ATU represents 1,750 bus employees in Queens and Staten Island, while the TWU represents 33,000 transit employees. The 12-day strike leads to passage of the Taylor Law, redefining the rights and limitations of unions for public employees in New York.|
|1983||Greyhound faces growing competition and is forced to drop its fares. To survive, it requests a 9.5% wage cut, which the union rejects. In November 1983 the ATU calls a strike of Greyhound employees, with 12,700 members walking off the job. The union accepts a 7.8% wage cut on 19 December 1983, just before Christmas.|
|1990||A second Greyhound strike begins in March 1990. Over 9,000 union members are out of work, while Greyhound hires an army of replacements. Violence includes the death of one striker by a bus driven by a strike breaker. The strike drags on and many drivers return to work. Eventually the ATU lets its members return in 1993.|
|2005||New York, New York||During the 2005 New York City transit strike called by the Transport Workers Union of America, the ATU continues to operate routes from the Spring Creek Depot.|
|2006||Toronto, Ontario||2006 Toronto Transit Commission wildcat strike|
|2008||Toronto, Ontario||The 2008 Toronto Transit Commission strike is called at 90 minutes notice at midnight on Friday, 2 August. Emergency legislation is passed over the weekend to force the strikers back to work.|
In popular culture
Yeah, them hard times are going around, hard times are goin' around, hard times are goin' around, bringin' hard luck on New York town. But I'm bankin' on the ATU, bankin' on the ATU, I'm bankin' on the ATU, Brother George is gonna see me through.
- Schmidt, Emerson (1937). Industrial Relations in Urban Transportation. University of Minnesota Press. ISBN 978-0-8166-5926-5.
- Molloy, Scott (2007). Trolley Wars: Streetcar Workers on the Line. UPNE. ISBN 978-1-58465-630-2.
- Stewart, Estella May (1936). Handbook of American trade-unions: 1936 edition. U.S. Government Printing Office.
- "Leadership - Amalgamated Transit Union". ATU. Retrieved 22 October 2013.
- "ATUCC Director". ATUCC. Retrieved 22 October 2013.
- "ATU Endorses Obama". Retrieved 22 October 2013.
- Salmon, Ryan. "Two Labor Unions Oppose Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline And Outline Better Alternatives". National Wildlife Foundation. Retrieved 22 October 2013.
- "ATU named 2012 "Most Valuable National Union" by The Nation". Retrieved 22 October 2013.
- "Lawrence Hanley ATU interview with John Zangas at Robin Hood Tax Rally". Retrieved 22 October 2013.
- Stewart 1936, p. 242.
- Illinois State Board of Arbitration 1908, p. 95.
- Larsen 1997, p. 136.
- Stromquist 2006, pp. 168-169.
- Boston's Car Strike Settled 1912.
- Raskin 1989, p. 22-35.
- Stoner 2011, p. 110-111.
- Schrag 2006, pp. 29.
- Larsen 1997, pp. 202ff.
- Zieger 2007, p. 133.
- Marmo 1990, pp. 28-29.
- The history of the Taylor Law 2005.
- Oestreich & Whaley 2001.
- Kalinowski & Javed 2008.