We are not perfect. Nobody is. But, the heart of the ATU is the belief that we are stronger together than apart. That’s a value. We value people over profits and care about our larger family: the Union. Easy for me to say.
As one year ends and another begins, I want to salute the people in the ATU who make it worth being called a union.
I often ask Local officers, “Are we running a union or a mailing list?” And all over our Union officers and members have risen to the occasion and answered that question this year in a way that should make us all proud. In St. Louis and Saskatoon, most recently, and in Atlanta ATU members took to the phones and the streets, and in fighting for themselves and their community they made the world a better place.
Our work requires courage. Robert Kennedy said, “Few men are willing to brave the disapproval of their fellows, the censure of their colleagues, the wrath of their society. Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence. Yet it is the one essential, vital quality of those who seek to change a world which yields most painfully to change.”
Somewhere in the ATU tonight a steward or officer will question themselves about the sacrifice they made in 2014 for their coworkers. Was the time they lost with their family even noticed? Does anyone know even how hard it can be to lead others? Somewhere reading this I hope there are some members who took on their leaders in a harsh or unfair way who might realize that although we might have differences, we are all on the same side. And I hope our officers will re-dedicate themselves to trying more to understand that they are leading in the toughest of times.
Again, our Local and International officers are not perfect. But they are the group who have the courage to enter the moral conflict, and to sacrifice and to lead. They are willing to risk the censure of their colleagues and to make the world a better place. They seek to change a small portion of events, and in their pursuit of ideals, remind us how difficult it is to sail against the wind. They are the young at heart, blessed with a mixture of idealism, grace under pressure and persistence. In a world that too often resembles a hurricane watch, they are sunshine and roses. The next time you see them, thank them for not giving up, give them a big hug and a smile and remember that –if it weren’t for them, we’d be at the mercy of the bankers, the brokers and those who seek to divide and exploit us all.
In 2015 our message to the Koch brothers and the politicians who don’t share our values will mimic those of George Bailey in “It’s a Wonderful Life”:
Thanks to all of you who make me proud. That’s what the ATU is about. Happy Holidays………and Onward!
ATU International President