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IP Costa and IEVP Trujillo Visit London and Paris for Transit and Labor Solidarity Tour to Advance Transit Workers’ Rights

In an unprecedented act of solidarity, International President John Costa and International Executive Vice President Yvette Trujillo traveled overseas to London, England, and Paris, France, to meet with our partners The International Transport Workers Federation (ITF), UNITE, one of the largest unions in the UK, France’s General Confederation of Labour (Confédération Générale du Travail - CGT), and to see our fellow transit union members on the job at the London Underground, the London Metroline Edgware Bus Garage, the Paris Metro and it’s RATP Control Centre (TBC), and other locations.

Costa and Trujillo were also joined by ATU’s Director of Joint Industry Councils and Collective Bargaining, John Lyons.


International Solidarity

The trip began in London with meetings with ITF General Secretary Stephen Cotton and ITF staff from various focus sectors, representing urban transport, women, young workers, inland transport, and the future of work. Costa and Trujillo were then joined by transit affiliates and labor leaders from Unite the Union, The National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers, The Associate Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen, The Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association, The Belgium Union of Transport Workers and The Rail, Tram and Bus Union from Australia who shared their struggles and victories in their respective countries as well as their common fights. The meeting focused on important topics such as apprenticeships, workforce development, new automation in our industries, and politics in our countries.

“Different nations bring diverse perspectives and innovative ideas to the table,” said Costa about the meetings. “By collaborating and learning from each other, we can find solutions to common challenges and advance workers’ rights globally. Together, we can amplify our voices and build a more equitable world for everyone.”


Transit in London – Unite the Union

Continuing their solidarity tour of London, Costa, Trujillo, and Lyons visited the London and Eastern Regional Office of Unite the Union, also known as UNITE, one of the largest unions in the UK, representing over 1 million workers.

After meeting at the union hall, the group rode the London Underground, the oldest underground in the world, to tour the London Metroline Edgware Bus Garage, meet with workers, and see the latest in transit technology. At the Edgware Garage, one of the first garages to be fully electric and one of the last London garages to be built, they met with UNITE union representatives to tour the buses and speak extensively about their battery electric technology and their infrastructure network. They were also able to see the safety barriers and video mirrors that all the new buses are equipped with.


Confédération Générale du Travail - Paris, France

The next day, Costa, Trujillo, and Lyons traveled to Paris, France, along with ITF’s Alana Dave, to meet with workers and multinational employers that our members work for across the U.S. and Canada.

The first stop was meeting with our sisters and brothers at The General Confederation of Labour (Confédération Générale du Travail - CGT), a national trade union center founded in 1895, the first of the five major French confederations of trade unions with the second largest memberships in France. The group met with CGT Director David Gobé and staff, and other French unionists to hear about the history of the CGT and the French trade union landscape today, including politics in France, and to compare and strategize around the ATU’s and CGT’s shared struggle with multinational employers.

Costa, Trujillo, and Lyons shared the fights and victories we’ve had in North America and extended their unconditional support to the trade unionists.


Meetings with Multinational Corporations

The following day, the group had important meetings with Transdev, one of ATU’s largest employers, and Keolis, both based in France. At the meetings, Costa held nothing back and directly addressed the matters most important to our members. “Union density is growing, and our members aren’t afraid to go on strike,” Costa told the employers. “We’re here to make sure that our members are treated with respect. I’m willing to work with you, but it has to go both ways.” By meeting with these multinational transportation companies, Costa and the delegation were able to put our members’ issues and concerns in the U.S. and Canada at the forefront.

The group was also able to tour the RATP Control Centre (TBC), where they learned the history of the Paris Metro, including its infrastructure and the modernization of the automated Metro Line 1, Paris’ oldest line, recognizing the social implications that come with automation.


We Move This World

“In a world that’s more connected than ever, it’s crucial that we recognize the significance of international worker solidarity,” said Costa. “As an International Union, the ATU believes that the well-being of workers transcends borders. By standing in solidarity with our fellow workers from different countries, we can demand better working conditions, fair wages, and labor rights for all.”

It was amazing witnessing the transit systems in the UK and France and what other countries are doing to advance transit workers’ rights. Under the leadership of Costa, the ATU is proud of the work we’re doing to foster international solidarity and develop strategic knowledge to enhance the lives of our members. With growing inequality, unions provide hope and a pathway to a better future for all. When we organize globally, we become the necessary counterpoint to multinational corporations. Witnessing the amazing work being done by our partners in the UK and France left us inspired to continue and expand the work of our International Union.