Women of Action is a member of the Amalgamated Transit Union’s (ATU) Women’s Caucus representing New Orleans, LA. The ATU is the largest labor union representing transit and allied workers in the U.S. and Canada, comprising more than 200,000 members, including metropolitan, interstate, and school bus drivers and others. The ATU Women’s Caucus was formalized in 1990. As president of Women of Action, Valerie Jefferson is calling attention to the environmental impacts of noise and air quality on transit workers’ health. Statistics show that constant exposure to exhaust fumes can lead to health issues around asthma, bronchitis and emphysema, and even some forms of cancer. While the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority has been gradually switching over from fossil to biofuels, Jefferson is advocating for a switch to an environmentally friendlier all-electric fleet.
Jefferson had served as President of the ATU Local 1560 for three years between 2019 to 2022, representing more than 300 members. She oversaw union business daily operations and served as a contracts negotiator between the union and the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority (RTA). Jefferson was a transit worker for 27 years before getting fired from her job in 2021 for doing what her colleagues elected her to do as their union president – stand up for them. Despite the health risks of the COVID-19 pandemic, transit workers remained on the frontlines. Hailed as heroes, federal funds were earmarked to assist transit systems nationwide. While many thanked their employees with bonuses, Jefferson had to threaten a strike before bonuses were paid. That same year, after Hurricane Ida hit, drivers worked 12-hour shifts operating buses as cooling centers for residents without power and transportation to shelters. She was fired after demanding RTA honor an earlier agreement for additional pay.
For more information:
Valerie Jefferson, President
Flooding, Heat, Hurricanes/Tropical Storms
Environmental Justice Concerns
Air Pollution, Hazardous/Toxic Sites, Logging/Biomass, Port/Transit/Highway Contamination/Noise
Art Activism, Community Organizing and Education, Direct Relief and Aid, Political activism, including protests, petitions, and lobbying
501c3 Tax Deductible