Canadian public transit workers belonging to the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) have a new national leader.
Local 113 President Bob Kinnear was elected today in Toronto as President of the newly-formed ATU Canada by delegates to the founding conference of the organization, which represents over 30,000 members in dozens of cities from Vancouver to St. John’s. He received 77 per cent of the votes over rival candidate Brian Tansy, president of the London, Ontario ATU Local 741.
Kinnear is currently President of the 10,000-member ATU Local 113, which represents Operations and Maintenance workers at the Toronto Transit Commission and York Region Transit. He first took office in January 2004 as the youngest-ever leader, at age 33, of the International Union’s largest local. He had recently announced that he was not going to run for a fifth three-year term as Local 113 President in order to “make way for a new generation of leadership.” His successor will be chosen in a local union election in early December.
As ATU Canada President, Kinnear’s mandate will be to represent the interests of the union’s members to all three levels of government, municipal, provincial and federal. A top priority will be to work with a new Federal government on a National Transit Strategy. He will also continue to seek alliances with other transit advocacy groups, as he has in Toronto, and intends to step up the fight against transit privatization.
“Public transit is one of Canada’s most pressing economic and environmental issues and it is time we had a National Transit Strategy,” Kinnear told delegates to the conference. “There will be billions of new dollars flowing from governments to transit in the coming years and we as a union have to work with others to ensure that every city in Canada gets the transit system they need and deserve.
“Above all else, we have to keep Canadian taxpayers’ dollars that are intended for more and better transit from being sucked up by profit-hungry corporations in these phony, so-called ‘public-private partnerships.’”
Kinnear pledged to work closely with the 180,000-member U.S. section of the union on issues of common cause.
“On both sides of the border, public transit is being shortchanged by short-sighted politicians and we must work together to stop this.
Kinnear takes office immediately and will serve out his term as Local 113 President to the end of the year.