New York, NY — Amalgamated Transit Union, ATU Local 1056 is made up of 3100 active and retired members. The union represents Bus Operators, Bus maintainers, maintainer helpers, car cleaners, stockroom handlers, and Plant & Equipment’s members.

The importance of the work they do cannot be underestimated. The public relies on these workers without even knowing it; in their commutes and in the quality of their rides.

With such a demand from the public, an insightful leader with a true belief in Labor is surely required.

President/Business Agent of the Local, Luis Alzate, who came up in the ranks giving his all, gleaning the needed experience for his position today, has what it takes.

He grew up in Woodside, Queens, NY, with two cousins being union members. “One cousin was with the NYCTA as a Bus Operator, and my other cousin is in Carpenters Union Local 157,” he tells LaborPress.

Alzate’s career in the union showcases his many responsibilities over the years. From 2000-2002 he held the position of Executive Board member, where he was in charge of schedules and oversaw discipline. By 2002-2015 he had attained the rank of Financial Secretary/Treasurer, where he was responsible for the union’s finances and benefits. He was Trustee to the benefit trust and oversaw retirements and disability for ATU members and Labor Relations, as well as contract bargaining.

From 2015-2022 he was Vice President, dealing with arbitrations/Labor Relations, benefits, and retirement, as well as contract bargaining, and other important issues.

Then, beginning in 2022, and up to the present day, Alzate reached the title of President/Business Agent of ATU Local 1056, a richly deserved position where he employs his years of experience and knowledge.

LaborPress spoke directly to Alzate to get more insight into the man, his work as President, and his motivations as a leader.

LP: What motivated you to become involved in the union as more than just a member?

LA: I always loved helping members, but the idea that there was an organization that was there to ensure that the rights and entitlements of the members were protected, especially with an employer as big as New York City Transit, was impressive, and it was something I wanted to be a part of.

LP: What is most important to you in your leadership role/s?

LA: Helping my members and being there for them is most important. After 30 years on the job, and 25 as a union representative, what is important is to teach the next generation of members the importance of the labor movement. To ensure the knowledge and experienced is passed down to the future union representatives.

LP: You have been involved in the ATU International Latino Caucus for many years. What has been accomplished while you were there and has it been a challenge to fight for diversity, equity, and inclusion in that space?

LA: I have been involved in the ATU International Latino Caucus for over 25 years, but as Vice President for eight years. I always believed the Caucus served as an extension of the local union. It is there to assist with the daily challenges of the membership. Challenges have always been there for equity and inclusion, but through education, perseverance, and hard work we have been able to overcome these challenges and become leaders for the labor movement to serve all.

LP: What victories do you consider significant during your many years of union leadership?

LA: In all my years in the Union, there have been many moments of victories and moments of accomplishments. But there has also been our share of defeat and disappointment. You cannot be a good leader until you have experienced both, but most importantly, learn from those experiences. I feel most proud of the accomplishments we have made in our bargaining unit with regards to our health care for our active and retired members.

Also, for many years we shared a goal in our union of owning our own building. A property our members could be proud of when they drove down Union Turnpike. I worked very hard as Financial Secretary along with the other Union leaders to accomplish this goal. It was a proud moment when ATU 1056 purchased their building in 2017.

LP: What would you most like to see for the well-being of your members?

LA: What I find most challenging is making members understand and value the importance of the Labor movement. Sometimes we become so involved in the daily challenges we face in our Locals, that we forget there is so much more work to do in organizing, in assisting other workers so they can share in the power of the Labor movement. What I would like to see and plan for, as far as the well-being of our members, is education, communication, and unity.

President/Business Agent Luis Alzate, ATU Local 1056: “Education, Communication, and Unity”


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