The AFL-CIO Executive Council mourns the passing of our brother and friend, Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) President Larry Hanley.
Hanley’s entire career was an insurgency. From his days as a shop steward, driving a bus in Brooklyn and Staten Island, to his leadership of ATU Local 726 to his reign at the helm of the national union, he was always taking on corruption and challenging the status quo.
Hanley never went along to get along. He not only pushed all of us to do better, he made all of us better. ATU members responded, electing him as Local 726 secretary-treasurer in 1984 and president in 1987 and, eventually, ATU president in 2010.
Hanley was fiery and passionate. He successfully led the fight to lower fares on express buses from Staten Island to Manhattan, uniting passengers and drivers in the process. He waged campaigns to improve bus driver safety and resisted union concessions on health care and retirement security. Frustrated with the tepid support of Democrats, Hanley helped found the Working Families Party.
Whether he was behind the wheel of an MTA bus or leading the 200,000-member ATU, Hanley was always taking people with him, carrying out his responsibilities with purpose and vigor, and never forgetting why he became a union activist in the first place.
He was a relentless advocate for a public transportation system that works for workers. He was an unapologetic champion for social and economic justice. Through his words and actions, he encouraged the labor movement to organize more boldly and strategically.
For these reasons and many more, Larry Hanley was one of the toughest fighters to ever serve the labor movement.
The AFL-CIO Executive Council sends our deepest condolences to his family, friends, and all the members, leaders and staff of ATU.