Q&A: Joe Ruffin for ATU757 President

Deke’s Note: Here is Joe Ruffin’s guest post; he’s running for President of ATU757.

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Joe Ruffin

1) Please briefly introduce yourself to the membership. How long have you been a transit employee and in what capacity?

 Hello Brothers and Sisters. My name is Joe Ruffin I have 34 years in transportation 28 year as an officer. I became a member of the ATU in 1990 at Laidlaw transit located on Columbia Blvd. I was hired as a maintenance mechanic. I quickly learned how ill mannered, Laidlaw a public private employer, treated their employees so I became a shop steward in 1991. My first negotiation was eye opening but luckily I had some good mentors; Schoppert, Heintzman, Fuller, and Feist. I left Laidlaw in 1995 to start a career with TriMet. I was hired as a Helper cleaning busses at Center garage. Within in a few months I entered the LRV apprenticeship program and completed the program in 1998. I eventually became a shop steward, a Liaison officer and the Rail Maintenance Excutive board Officer. I currently am the senior executive board officer for ATU 757.

2) What are your unique skills and experience which make you a logical choice for the office you are seeking?

I have the Leadership skills and experience needed to navigate the tasks of the position. I have acquired the experience need to delegate and assign tasks, listening to the membership and be transparent with the membership in the process. Not just one person or group should be considered with decisions being made every member should have a voice. Commitment, Team-building and collaboration are the principles that I have led by. As Rail Maintenance Excutive Board Officer, representing over 10 different classification, I have found the balance needed for all members to feel adequately represented. I keep it real with everyone I speak to, it takes all of us to make our local run smoothly. This is not a dictatorship this is a membership I have to listen to all groups and classifications. It takes courage, Integrity and flexibility to get the work done.

When making decisions that involve calculated risks and pursuing new untested problem-solving methods I accept responsibility for the outcome. Being the rail maintenance Excutive Board Officer I strongly believe that Integrity and Flexibility are qualities , that comes from being willing to listening to their colleagues and subordinates.We live in a fast paced world where people expect, want, and need more due to the raising cost of living.

3) In these post-Janus times when union-eligible workers can "opt out" of their union, how do you plan to retain them and grow our membership? 

Union leadership need to do their job and improve communication and representation. It’s not easy for a member to “opt out” that’s a very hard choice for that individual, they really believe their union failed them. We have to educate our officers and members. Take the time to sit down listen to their concerns and address them.

4) Is management adequately addressing our safety? What do you think can be done to provide a safer work environment? 

No they’re not. I would advise every member that can to request to be on the safety committees.

Remember safety committees were formed by the unions and if your district’s safety committees are not addressing our concerns, The ATU should form our own and hold the districts accountable. As for our front line employees that keeps the wheels turning ,a security officer should be assigned to every high risk route or line. To help offset the cost the districts should bill the county and cities for not dealing with the drugs, violent and non destination, rider issues. Our front line employees should not have to endure the mental anguish, for cities and county not addressing the homeless and drugs.

5) Please share your added opinions on a topic which has not been covered in my previous questions.


I would like to address the political atmosphere and the politicians that supported the laws and ordinances that put our major cities and counties in to a downward spiral. They are ignoring the lack of ridership due to corporations, malls, major stores and small businesses closing down and leave the cities and central business district due to theft, violence, homeless population and the drug epidemic. Our members safety is a major concern for us. Our drivers and front line employees are at risk of drug exposure and violent acts that may occur on or off the vehicles , the platforms, bus stops and layovers. Our members have to work in this hostile environment that these politicians have created , that is also affecting our ridership and employment opportunities. We deserve a solution to these issues that plagues our communities. I want these politicians to know that our membership covers a large area ranging from Southern Washington and all of Oregon. I don’t believe we’ve ever had a President that demands that our local politicians get their act together or  they’re going to feel the full power of the ATU during election times! When elected , I will demand that our local politicians address our members concerns and solutions happen so we all have a safe and healthy work environment.


Thank you for your time!