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Frontline workers lead the way at Mentors In Motion: Inspiring Each Other and Building Community

Hundreds of transit workers from agencies in California and 5 other states, attended “Mentors In Motion: Inspiring Each Other and Building Community”, the annual meeting of California Transit Works.

This historic meeting took place at Logan High School in Union City, CA. and it was the largest gathering of public transit High Road Training Partnerships (HRTPs) in the country, featuring the leadership and voice of frontline workers, including VTA workers.

“ What separated this event from the normal conferences in public transportation is that the frontline was not only in attendance but it was planned and run by the frontline, which demonstrated the true power of the worker's voice,” said Steve Jovel, Operations Manager and Workforce Development for the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (SCVTA). “Having the agency and union partners along with their frontline workers was powerful. “ he added.


More than 70% of the 250 attendees were frontline transit workers – both current peer mentors and frontline transportation and maintenance workers who were interested in peer mentoring, as well as issues such as conversion to zero-emission buses (ZEB).

They were joined by ATU and agency leaders of their agencies’ training partnerships, as well as ATU officers and agency managers at all levels. Special guest presenters included the US Department of Labor, the California Workforce Development Board, and community college deans. The principal, counselor, automotive instructor, and students of Logan High School graciously hosted CTW.

ATU International Vice President Jim Lindsay, on behalf of International President John Costa, gave the official welcome, emphasizing the ATU’s commitment to promoting apprenticeships and workforce development for ATU members at every local in the US and Canada.

The morning’s highlights were presentations by each of the 16 labor/management partnerships from Missouri, Ohio, Indiana, Oregon, Washington, and California on their work and accomplishments to date. Harpreet Sing, Coach Operator/Joint Workforce Investment ATU Director at VTA was one of them. “The CTW conference highlighted how frontline workers, when included in the problem-solving process, can offer practical insights and feedback that lead to more effective and efficient solutions.” Harpreet added that the event also showed how the agencies' and unions' support systems play a vital role in creating a more empowering and collaborative work environment.

Participants included frontline workers and officers from ATU locals 192, 256, 265, 268, 757, 788, 1070, 1225, 1277, 1574, 1575, 1704, and 1756, as well as the ATU California Conference Board. Transit agency participants included GM/CEOs, managers, and supervisors from AC Transit, Sacramento RT, San Joaquin RTD, Santa Clara VTA, Cleveland RTA, TriMet, Eugene Transit, Metro St. Louis, IndyGo, Monterey-Salinas Transit, Riverside Transit, SunLine Transit, San Diego, SamTrans, Golden Gate Transit, OmniTrans, Foothill-Pomona, and King County Metro.

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The afternoon plenary started with a peer mentor panel representing six US transit partnerships. Meeting attendees had multiple opportunities throughout the day to network with their peers in productive small group workshops and caucuses on critical issues and challenges facing transit labor/management partnerships and programs.

The maintenance caucus had a unique hands-on presentation by the James Logan High School automotive students and instructors, building the high school's career pathway in real life.

The afternoon was devoted to each labor/management partnership working together to share what they learned and develop partnership “Commitment to Action” plans for 2024.

As each partnership shared their Commitment to Action plans on stage with the rest of the meeting attendees, their enthusiasm was the perfect way to close out the day and carry us all forward into 2024!

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(Images courtesy of California Transit Works)

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