ATU wins battle over bus ads rejected by Spokane Transit

The following is from ATU Local 1015:

SPOKANE (Oct. 10, 2017) — In a big victory for Spokane Transit Authority (STA) workers, a federal court recently ruled that the transit agency violated the First Amendment rights of Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 1015 members working for the agency, by refusing to allow the local’s advertisement to appear on STA buses.

ATU submitted the ad to STA in August 2016 to inform transit workers and bus drivers of their right to union representation and promoting membership in ATU. The ad read, “Do you drive: Uber? Lyft? Charter Bus? School Bus? You have the Right to Organize! Contact ATU 1015 Today at 509-325-2955.”

STA claimed the ad was not allowable under the agency’s policy because it addresses a “public issue.”

“This is a big victory for STA transit workers and all workers’ free speech rights,” says Local 1015 President Thomas Leighty. “STA was attempting to trample on our First Amendment right to let workers at Uber, Lyft, charter bus and school bus companies know they have a right to a voice that will protect their interests on the job.”

The court concluded that “ATU’s proposed advertisement was ‘commercial and promotional advertising’ as defined in the agency’s policy, and that STA’s determination to the contrary was an unreasonable interpretation of the policy.”

The full court opinion can be read here.

“We plan to run this advertisement to let these transportation workers know ATU is here for them,” Leighty said.

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