By Geoff Ray
In 1992 Bus Riders’ Union (BRU) organizers, organizers-in-training, and members rode thousands of buses for thousands of hours and began to build what has become a dues-paying membership of 2,500 persons and a very active leadership core of 200 riders. Many members have been active for five or more years. Another 40,000 people who ride the buses support our work, and many of them have participated in BRU fare strikes and other actions.
More than 15 years ago, community residents, ministers, and elected officials stood hand-in-hand with the newly-created West Harlem Environmental Action, Inc. (WE ACT) as we convened a press conference to offer a challenge to the most indifferent government entity in New York—the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA).
Launch of T Riders’ Union
Our story began with community concerns about asthma and air quality. In 1997, through ACE’s youth program, students at three schools targeted dirty diesel buses and trucks as an environmental injustice linked to the high rates of asthma in the community. Seventy-five youth marched in an Anti-Idling Day and handed out “tickets” to educate drivers about the state law limiting idling of engines. That same day, these youth joined with six other community and environmental groups to launch the Clean Buses for Boston coalition.
Despite the poverty and difficult conditions that plague them, dock workers and port truckers in the Central American ports of Puerto Cortez and Acajutla have tried to form unions. Some have had success, while others have lost their jobs and been blacklisted. All worry that the Central American Free Trade Agreement will lead to privatization and attacks on their unions and income. This photo-documentary shows their conditions as they work or wait for work, and for their families at home.
Few of the privatization assaults in Central America have been as sustained and sharp as those against the longshore workers of El Salvador.