AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka delivered the following remarks at a memorial service for longtime Amalgamated Transit Union leader Larry Hanley:
On behalf of the 55 unions and 12.5 million members of the AFL-CIO, I want to offer my deepest condolences to Larry’s wife and children, along with the entire ATU family. He loved this center. He loved all of you.
Larry is gone too soon for sure, but his presence and vision for a more just nation remains with us...as a source of energy and inspiration. And his impact as a trade unionist and labor leader will be felt for generations to come.
I got my start in a movement called Miners for Democracy. Our goal was to make the United Mine Workers of America more democratic. We took on corruption. We challenged the status quo. And we put the UMWA back where it belongs—in the hands of its members.
Larry fought that same good fight at the ATU, starting as a young man with his local union on Staten Island and eventually rising to the highest ranks of our movement. Larry understood that trade unionists have one fidelity and one fidelity only—to support, strengthen, empower and serve working people.
Larry was a bus driver. And the metaphor is almost perfect. Whether he was behind the wheel of an MTA bus or at the reins of the 200,000 member ATU, Larry 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. He pushed the labor movement to organize more boldly and strategically. And, he was one of the toughest fighters you’d ever meet.
Larry never went along to get along. He not only challenged all of us to do better, he made all of us better. And that’s how we will carry on his legacy and honor his memory.
God bless Larry Hanley. Rest in power, my brother.