Local 732

"WE MUST STAND UP FOR OUR HUMAN DIGNITY" - ATU PRESIDENT HANLEY'S MESSAGE TO LOCAL 732 MEMBERS

On March 4, ATU International President Larry Hanley, a former bus operator, was in Atlanta to speak at our monthly meeting. He began by putting our struggle in an historical context. In the fall of 2010, he said the ATU leadership began summing up what was happening all over the U.S. and Canada and identified that some of the “same culprits” were responsible for all the attacks on our Union. In Phoenix, for example, Veolia offered the city a lower rate to provide transit service and that lower cost was going to come off the backs of union workers.

 

President Hanley pledged that “Wherever there is a fight, I’ll be there.” In fact, the entire ATU leadership is coming to Atlanta in May to assist us in our fight. He talked about the need for sacrifice in these difficult times and putting our bodies on the line. “If we’re not ready to fight, we’re not ready to win,” he said.

 

The executive board reported to President Hanley that one of the problems in the local was that members were not wanting to volunteer their time for the union. He said it’s not possible for everyone who helps out to get paid. He said the ATU International will do its job but we, the members of Local 732 must do the hard work. “Our wages, benefits, and dignity are at risk,” he said. “We must stand up for our human dignity.”

 

“Laws are being changed to make us suffer,” President Hanley told the membership. We have to learn from history and look at the example of Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott. It is important to remember that the bus operator responsible for enforcing that unjust law was an ATU member. Rosa Parks was a trained organizer who knew the dangers of challenging segregation and taking an arrest in 1955 only a few months after the brutal slaying of Emmett Till in Mississippi – 2 events that helped to spark the civil rights and black freedom movement.

 

We are living at a time when companies, like American Airlines, are going bankrupt to avoid paying pensions. A time when ATU members can work full-time and still be eligible for social services. A time when millions are found for war but not to meet the needs of people at home.

 

“Our weapon of choice must be building coalitions,” President Hanley asserted. We cannot walk alone. By building coalitions and organizing riders, we can win. “That’s how you turn around the whole country,” he said. 
 

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