Socialist Resurgence has joined the call to defend Erek Slater, a Chicago transit worker who is being victimized by his employer. We urge our readers to sign the online petition on his behalf (below) and to share it widely.
On May 31, 2020, Erek Slater, a union representative and ATU 241 Executive Board elected member working for the Chicago Transit Authority, addressed his co-workers to share the official public statement of the ATU International President regarding refusal to drive police. This ATU statement was released in the context of the mass protests over the murder of George Floyd:
“our members have the right … to refuse the dangerous duty of transporting police to protests and arrested demonstrators away from these communities where many of these drivers live. This is a misuse of public transit.”
Erek, in his capacity as a union representative, raised questions about CTA bus drivers shuttling police around the city, and thus being instrumental in the arrest of Chicago citizens who were demanding justice for George Floyd and other victims of police violence.
The CTA retaliated against Erek on June 5 by taking him out of service and accusing him of illegally advocating for a wildcat strike, a charge that is false and could lead to his being fired. Erek’s legal counsel has filed federal charges against the CTA for breaking the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment rights to freedom of speech. Slater is also asking the court to bar the transit agency from prohibiting safety discussions among off-duty employees within common areas on CTA property.
The Chicago Sun Times (June 8) quoted a motion for relief that Slater filed in federal court as stating: “Not only are these bus operators being asked to endanger themselves and their families from COVID-19 exposure, they are also being asked to place themselves in the middle of conflict zones with potentially violent protesters, law enforcement and military personnel.”
The motion continued: “Many bus operators have legitimate political and moral concerns regarding the heavily armed law enforcement and military response to the recent demonstrations against police brutality in Chicago and about being ordered to participate in these law enforcement actions through transporting law enforcement and military personnel to and from demonstrations.
“Bus operators sought and obtained civilian employment with the defendant CTA, not conscription into military service to quell domestic demonstrations against police brutality.”
A public petition has been launched in order to build the broadest level of support and solidarity for Erek’s reinstatement: https://www.change.org/p/chicago-transit- authority-drop-all-charges-andreinstate-chicago-bus-driver-erek-slater .
Letters are also requested from those who are able to get unions or their organizations to sign on the solidarity campaign to get Erek reinstated. You can email statements of solidarity and messages to this email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information, see: https://lavozlit.com/campaign-to-reinstate-chicago-bus-driver-erek-slater/amp/?__twitter_impression=true