A new era for transit workers, union members, and progressive activists began this week as the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) moved its international headquarters from Washington, DC, to the Silver Spring campus formerly occupied by the AFL-CIO National Labor College. ATU has also established a new conference center on the campus to train future generations of labor and progressive leaders at the site’s state-of-the-art facility. “This is a historic moment for ATU as we move our headquarters and launch the new conference center,” said Larry Hanley, international president of ATU. “Future generations of organizers will learn from the brilliance, strength and courage shown by past American and Canadian activists who will go back to their own communities to do the same.”
ATU International purchased the former campus of the National Labor College in 2014. The main building, which was constructed as a state-of-the-art teaching facility, will also house much of the training offered at the conference center. The structure also features a large auditorium/ballroom suitable for meetings and events. Several buildings on the property will continue to be used as student housing.
The center will also continue as the site of the National Workers Memorial created by the AFL-CIO in 2010.
The new campus is only the third location of the union’s international headquarters in its 123-year history. After its founding in 1892, what was then called the Amalgamated Association of Street Car Employees of America established its first headquarters in Detroit, MI.
In 1957 the organization’s international headquarters were moved to Washington, DC at 5025 Wisconsin Ave., NW. By 1978, the building was proving inadequate to the growing union’s needs, and the decision was made to build a new structure at the same location. The new building opened for use in March 1982, and has served as ATU’s international headquarters until the move today.