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On April 9, 2016 Joe Pass, Sr. addressed members of Local 85 of the Amalgamated Transit Union to discuss the history of the Local. Joining Joe on the dais was William Barry, a labor historian, who discussed the general labor history of the United States.

The session was from 8:00 am until 4:30 pm with Local 85 providing a continental breakfast and a full luncheon for those in attendance. Joe Pass detailed the history of the A.T.U. and Local 85, and the creation of Port Authority in 1964 through the present time focusing on many of the labor disputes which occurred. He emphasized not only the difficulties but the many successes Local 85 has had over the years and winning contracts which provided significant wages and benefits for all of its members. Mr. Barry gave an extensive history of the labor movement starting with “factory girls of Lowell, Massachusetts in 1836” and leading up to the current difficulties which labor faces.

Also speaking was retired Local Union member, Donald Irvin, who was discharged in 1971 for wearing a free Angela Davis button. For those not familiar, Ms. Davis was a union and civil rights activist who was jailed for conspiracy to commit murder but was subsequently acquitted by a jury when no evidence was produced linking her to the murder of four individuals in a Marin County California courthouse. Mr. Irvin described the racial unrest and torture of that era which resulted in a three-day wildcat transit strike by his fellow union members in support of his right to wear the button. He further explained how the Union and Joe advocated on his behalf in arbitration which resulted in his reinstatement with full back pay. 

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