By Akira Kyles
The president of the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 689, has made great strides since starting in the position, not only because she’s the first Black woman to fill it, but also because of her accomplishments.
Jackie Jeter has been an elected official with Local 689 since 1994, starting as a shop steward for rail operations. Jeter then worked her way from assistant business agent for rail operations to first vice president and financial secretary-treasurer the following term.
Jeter became the first Black female president of ATU Local 689 in 2006. Being the first African-American woman to head ATU Local 689, helps Jeter offer a different perspective and pave a new path. “I am blessed with the opportunity to bring the unique perspective of my experience, both as an African American and as a woman, to this job. Diversity is so important, especially working at a place like WMATA, so I don’t take it lightly and I hope that I have blazed a trail for more diversity to come both in the union and at Metro, especially in leadership,” said Jeter.
In this position, she makes sure to empower her members for the best effect on a national level. “It is important to me, as the president, to make sure that our membership is heard and feels represented across all their crafts regardless of their seniority or location of their work. There is literally no workplace like WMATA,” said Jeter. “We are the only transit agency that exists in two state jurisdictions and the District of Columbia. This means that WMATA’s operations have a national effect and so does this union.”
Jeter’s position demands she focus on proper conditions for members of her union. “What is most important to me is the upward mobility and sustained safe working conditions for all. We are fighting privatization, attacks on retirement benefits, poor working conditions and more,” said Jeter. “Most of the time I have spent with WMATA has seen the quality of our lives expand. I don’t want to see the upcoming generation of workers go with less. They rest on our shoulders and should see more. I am going to continue to fight like hell to make sure they get it.”
Protecting workers and their rights is also important. “Protecting workers rights and expanding the labor movement. Across the country workers are being targeted and hurt, especially in these political times,” said Jeter. “We at ATU Local 689 not only have a responsibility to ourselves but to the labor and social justice community around the country to make a positive contribution and make our movement grow.”
Jeter serves as president of the Metropolitan Washington Council AFL-CIO, a labor council representing nearly 200 affiliated union locals and 150,000 area union members of the Greater Metropolitan Washington area, and is the first woman to serve at that post, as well.
Jeter is also president of the ATU International Women’s Caucus, a member of Transit Rail Advisory Committee for Safety (TRACS), a member of Today’s Women Caucus of Local 689 and on the National Advisory Board for the Labor Project for Working Families.
All the work Jeter has done to rise to her position and within her position serve as a symbol of dedication within the union. “I want the members of ATU Local 689 and those to come to know that dedication to the union movement, love for our work, and love of our union brothers and sisters is payment in itself,” said Jeter. “If we are dedicated to those things then ATU Local 689 will be successful for another 100 years. I am proud to have contributed to this legacy and it means the world to me that the members have supported my leadership for the past four terms.”
This article originally appeared in The Afro.