Amalgamated Transit Union International President Larry Hanley released the following statement to mark the 125th anniversary of the ATU.
“One hundred twenty-five years ago, today, in order to “disenthrall themselves from the slavery of long hours and burdensome toil,” 52 transit workers assembled in Indianapolis, IN, to form the Amalgamated Association of Street Railway Employees of America, now the Amalgamated Transit Union. It was the birth of the largest and most successful transit worker movement in North America – a labor union that’s still fighting for its members, and all workers today.
“ATU brought transit and allied workers out of the depths of poverty and into the mainstream of the Canadian and American middle class. But it didn’t happen without cost.
“As in other unions, ATU members suffered, and some died to secure our collective bargaining rights; to protect us from unfair treatment on the job; to provide us with living wages, overtime pay, sick days, health care, vacations, retirement, a decent work environment; and more.
“Unfortunately, most North Americans today are unaware of union history. And those who control the levers of government have taken advantage of that to chip away at our accomplishments to the point where we find ourselves fighting to hold on to so many of the things we achieved over the last 125 years.
“And so, we’re still fighting for collective bargaining rights, living wages, and safe working conditions.
“We’re still fighting for fair work rules, reasonable hours, and a voice on the job.
“We’re still fighting so that our members and all workers will be accorded the dignity they deserve by virtue of their humanity.
“And we don’t intend to stop.
“We are celebrating our 125th anniversary just as we began, fighting to fix and improve the bus driver’s workstation so that all transit operators are provided the healthy, safe, and secure work areas that employees in virtually all other occupations take for granted.
“In that way, we best honor those who made the sacrifices and endured the hardships that were necessary to build an organization that has immeasurably improved the lives of countless workers in three centuries.
“We stand in solidarity with them, as we do with each other, always, ‘Proud to be ATU!’”