President Katheen Custer announces her departure

After 27 years, including six consecutive terms as President of ATU Local 1576, Kathleen Custer has announced that she will be departing Community Transit in April to begin the next chapter in her career at Snohomish County.

President Custer was hired on as a Coach Operator in 1997, at 21 years old, and over the next few years she was promoted to Dispatcher, and served our local as Shop Steward, Executive Board Officer and Recording Secretary. In 2005, she became the youngest woman president in ATU history. She and her father Lance Norton, retired President of King County Metro local 587, also became the first father/daughter presidents serving ATU local unions at the same time.

Our local grew during her distinguished tenure to include 5 properties and 7 contracts representing 14 separate work groups. As a skilled negotiator with an eye to the future, her focus has been on securing strong contract language, defending the rights of our membership and equipping the union with knowledge. She has succeeded in negotiating contracts with crucial protections in place for all of our properties and had prioritized attendance for our representatives at important conferences and trainings sponsored by the ATU, APTA, and Labor Arbitration Institute. The ATU has been both her heart and family for her entire career and I know that the decision to leave has not been an easy one.

I ask you to join me in thanking her for her years of dedicated service to our local and for her tireless work in advancing the cause of Labor, as we wish her well on her new path.

As Vice President, I will be stepping in during the interim, while the vacancy is filled by the process outlined in our By-Laws. As we look ahead, we know the transit industry in our area will have a changing landscape with new technology, the advancement of Light Rail, the advent of Microtransit and a potential consolidation with Everett Transit. We are also facing unprecedented challenges in our work with increasing drug use in our system and rising operator assaults. Out local is committed to protecting and advancing our members' interests, and our focus going forward must be on engagement within our membership while creating the important changes we need through advocacy, mentorship and communication.

I have great confidence in the knowledge that we have a solid foundation to build on, a strong team of elected officers and many capable hands to accomplish the work we have ahead of us. Our collective strength is carried forward by our members who keep this union in place with their continued support and involvement, and your voice and participation remain critical as we navigate the challenges and opportunities ahead.

In Solidarity,

Dani Julien