Silver Spring, Md. (PAI) — Amalgamated Transit Union President Larry Hanley, a lifelong union member since the days he began driving buses in Brooklyn in 1978, died suddenly on May 7, union Executive Vice President Javier Perez announced.
Hanley, who became president in 2010, was in his 60s. The cause of death was not available.
“Our heartfelt sympathies and condolences go out to his family at this very difficult time. This is an unfathomable and tragic loss for the ATU and the entire Labor Movement. As further details are available additional information will be provided,” Perez added.
Hanley’s family – Thelma, James, Monica and Lawrence, Jr. – released a statement saying he “devoted his life to the union movement and to the Amalgamated Transit Union.
“His fondest wish for the union now would be to continue your everyday efforts for the members, because they were always the ones on his mind. He shared his love of defending the defenseless with you in the hopes that the ATU would be a shining beacon in the labor movement, the country, and the world.”
Hanley actually started his union career, and his transit career, with the nation’s other transit union, the Transport Workers and its Local 100 in New York City, while he drove the buses in Brooklyn. After 18 months there – where he fought for police protection of bus drivers – Hanley switched to a transit system on Staten Island, which ATU Local 726 represents.
“By April 1980, he was involved in his first strike and walked picket lines every day and night. The strike was ruled illegal and lasted 11 days,” ATU’s Hanley bio says.
Hanley’s activism extended beyond New York. Just after his 1984 election as Local 726 Secretary-Treasurer, he led a New York support group that traveled to Austin, Minn., the next into year to support oppressed P-9 Hormel Meat Co. strikers.
Local 726 members elected Hanley as president in 1987. Hanley moved from New York to ATU’s international staff in 2002, became a union vice president two years later, and led ATU’s bargainers for the nationwide Greyhound contract the next year. He was elected ATU president in 2010.