Union Solidarity Letter in Support of the Reinstatement of Erek Slater and Free Speech Rights for Workers on the Job

We urge the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) and the Chicago City Administration to immediately drop all charges and reinstate bus driver and Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) leader Erek Slater.

Erek Slater is a Union representative and an ATU 241 Executive Board elected member.  On May 31, 2020 he addressed his co-workers to share the official public statement of the ATU International President regarding the right to refuse 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 Slater, in his capacity as a union representative, raised questions about CTA bus drivers being instrumental in the arrest of Chicago citizens who were demonstrating in the streets demanding Justice for George Floyd and other victims of police violence.  These protesters are the families and the neighbors of bus drivers themselves whose actions are bringing about social change in the US.  The CTA has retaliated against Erek by taking him out of service and accusing him of illegally advocating for a wildcat strike, a charge which is false and could lead to him being fired. Erek’s legal counsel has filed federal charges against the CTA for breaking the US Constitution’s First Amendment rights to freedom of speech.

We understand that the charges against Erek Slater represent a violation of both the First Amendment and workers’ ability to organize and speak out against injustice.

We demand that the CTA and the Chicago City Administration drop all charges against Erek slater and reinstate him.  In addition, we demand that the city of Chicago ensure the protection of workers’ rights to organize and speak out against injustice!  This is an historical moment when people across the country and around the world are demonstrating in the streets to bring about justice.

Union anti-racist solidarity in these moments is more crucial than even, one injury to one, is an injury to all. We thus encourage all our 1,800 CFA – SFSU members to sign the following community solidarity petition:

We stand by the following demands:

  • Drop all charges and reinstate Erek Slater!
  • Ensure workers rights to organize and free speech rights on the job!
  • Justice for George Floyd and all victims of police violence!
  • Black Lives Matter!
  • Defund the police and invest in public transit, public education and social services

Letter approved by the Executive Board of the California Faculty Association – San Francisco State University, on June 16th 2020