The Voice of Transit Workers

As a transit worker, school bus employee or over-the-road bus worker, your job, wages and working conditions are directly linked to politics. Representatives in federal, state and local government make crucial decisions everyday that determine the amount of funding available to your transit system or school district, the safety and security requirements at your workplace, your bargaining rights, and more.

By participating in ATU-COPE, you can have a direct impact on the political process - from guiding policies on transit funding, privatization and other issues that affect you to helping elect the public officials who make the decisions.

As the largest transit worker Political Action Committee (PAC) in the United States, ATU-COPE is the voice of transit workers, school bus employees and over-the-road bus workers at all levels of government. Since by law, union dues cannot be used to fund political campaigns, voluntary member contributions to ATU-COPE are used to help elect pro-labor, pro-transit candidates for local, state and federal office. Once the election is over, ATU-COPE works closely with the officials we helped elect to make sure that our members’ interests are well-represented.

The Crisis

The economic recession has hit U.S. transit agencies hard. Since 2009, approximately 85% of public transit systems have raised fares or cut service. Everyone is affected, whether you live in a big city or small town. For many people, the bus just doesn’t stop in the neighborhood anymore. Workers can’t get to their jobs. Senior citizens and individuals with disabilities who rely on transit are stuck in their homes. It’s a mobility crisis like we have never seen before.

At the same time, through no fault of their own, a wave of ATU - members has been laid off. Across the U.S., thousands of our brothers and sisters are struggling to pay their mortgage and feed their families from day to day. Their self esteem and pride in performing an honest day’s work for a fair wage are gone, and their lives are spiraling out of control.

For those of us that are fortunate to still have a job, you know that the tough economy is putting a squeeze on collective bargaining. The price of health care continues to skyrocket, wages are stagnant, and retirement packages are shrinking beyond recognition. Without immediate action, unions and the middle class that they built will be long gone.

The Plan (COPE-PLUS)

Historically, ATU-COPE has helped elect local, state, and federal officials who understand the importance of investing in quality public and school bus transportation. This year, in light of the crisis facing our members, while continuing in that role, ATU-COPE will for the first time help ATU Locals launch progressive, grassroots, issue-oriented campaigns back home through a unique matching program.

ATU-COPE will return to each local division every dollar contributed above their 2010 contribution level for the purpose of conducting grassroots campaigns in their community targeted at restoring transit service that has been cut in recent years, fighting privatization, and other progressive efforts aimed at getting our members back to work. Moreover, in an effort to further encourage locals to increase their ATU-COPE levels over last year, we are also matching the money sent back to each local, dollar for dollar. This special program will apply during 2011. The premise of this idea is that COPE is not only about supporting pro-transit and pro-labor candidates; it is also about mobilizing our membership to fight back in the streets.

Nothing will change with respect to longstanding policies. Up to 50% of the funds contributed each two-year election cycle by each local to ATU-COPE will be returnable that cycle on an “as needed” basis for contributions to state and local candidates. Locals may also suggest that a contribution be made to a candidate for federal office.

Online Resources

2011 ATU-COPE Guidelines

2011 ATU-COPE Brochure