Skip to Content
Streetsblog San Francisco home
Streetsblog San Francisco home
Log In
Streetsblog USA

AFL-CIO Flexing Its Muscle for Senate Transit Operating Aid Bill

The AFL-CIO, a formidable lobbying force in Washington, is throwing
its weight behind a Senate bill offered
last week
that would authorize $2 billion in emergency funding for
transit agencies forced to hike fares or cut service in lean budgetary

JesseJacksonPhoto.JPGRev. Jesse Jackson, second from left,
has joined transit workers' unions in their Save Our Ride campaign.
(Photo: Streetsblog

"Unless the U.S. Senate passes" the transit
operating legislation, the union's Mike Hall wrote in a Friday
blog post
, "working families who count on public transportation
systems in
communities across the country will face even more severe fare
increases and service cuts and transit workers are looking at further

The president of the AFL-CIO's Transportation Trades Department, Ed
Wytkind, also pushed for passage of the Senate bill in a National
Journal guest
blog post
this morning. The Amalgamated Transit Union and the
Transport Workers Union, both AFL-CIO members, have aligned with Rev.
Jesse Jackson, environmental groups, and civil-rights advocates for a
campaign dubbed Save Our Ride that
seeks to stave off sweeping transit cuts in major cities.

The unions have several hurdles to clear before the transit funding
becomes available, however. The Senate legislation contains only
authorizing language, meaning that lawmakers must quickly follow with
"appropriating" language that technically disburses the operating money.

That two-step process would have been accomplished quickly by
attaching the transit aid to a larger bill that is considered
"must-pass" by Congress, such as the upcoming supplemental funding bill
for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But Republican senators vowed
early on to oppose any attempt to add unrelated spending to that
measure, and the Senate passed
its version
sans transit aid before adjourning for the Memorial Day

That leaves room for the AFL-CIO to generate momentum for another
vehicle to carry the transit funding -- but given the resistance among
both House and Senate Democrats to any new spending not offset by cuts
elsewhere in the budget, the union may face an uphill battle this

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter