Justin Panos named new ATU Interim Director of New Organizing

With the retirement of ATU’s Director of Organizing Chris Townsend, International President John Costa has named Justin Panos the new ATU Interim Director of New Organizing.

“Under Chris’s leadership, he invigorated the organizing department by expanding the department and bringing countless members into the ATU family,” said Costa. “Not many people know this, but Chris joined Local 1464-Tampa, FL in 1979 and became a volunteer organizer to help kickstart the Local. We thank Chris for his commitment to the ATU and wish him the best of luck in his retirement.”

Townsend joined ATU Local 1464 in Tampa, Florida, in 1979 and was a volunteer organizer and later an Executive Board member. After moving to New York, Townsend went on to become an International Representative and Political Director for the United Electrical Workers Union (UE). Then in 2013, he returned to the ATU with the mission of restarting the new organizing program of the Union and setting up the new Field Mobilization Department. Over the 8 years, he has been at the International, more than 130 new transit units were organized, including 7,500 workers, and more than 150 field campaigns have been conducted involving tens of thousands of members.

As he ends his second stint at the ATU, Townsend reflected back on his career, “The leaders at ATU and UE who trained me drilled into me that our goal was at all times to defend the members, protect the unity and integrity of the Union and labor movement at all times, organize the unorganized, and advance the interests of our working class in every way possible. I have remembered that throughout my career and now move to another chapter of my life.”

“We welcome and congratulate Justin on his new role as our Interim Director of New Organizing,” Costa continued. “As a Senior Organizer, Justin spearheaded successful campaigns at St. Thomas Transit, Alstom light rail in Ottawa, Pacific Western Transit in Alberta, and others. I know Justin’s leadership style and the passion he has for the ATU and the Locals he’s helped, and I believe in his ability to mentor and lead our organizers and this department to grow our Union.”

Panos started his career as a Research Coordinator with the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals. While there, he worked on the most successful organizing campaign in the U.S. in 2016. He then worked with the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, where he strategized with organizers around policy campaigns, new organizing targets, economic trends, and legislative changes. At the same time, he was elected by the members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 3903 to become a Bargaining Team Representative.

Since 2018, Justin has been a National Organizer for ATU Canada. He was then appointed Senior Organizer for the International, where he has been leading contract fights and new organizing in Canada, helping to organize hundreds of workers into the ATU.

“Thank you, International President Costa, for the opportunity to serve the broader labour movement and the ATU in this role,” said Panos. “I’d also like to thank Chris Townsend for his leadership and expertise in building the ATU organizing department to what it is today. I look forward to continuing to expand on that successful work with our incredible team of organizers and to build the ranks of our Union.”