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Walter Tucker, first black board member of ATU 689: 1971 | by Washington Area Spark
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Walter Tucker, first black board member of ATU 689: 1971

Walter Tucker, the first black voting executive board member of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689 is shown at the local’s installation of officers in January 1971.


Tucker was a bus operator at Northern Division who served one term as shop steward and executive board member.


He was defeated in the December 1973 union election by James M. Thomas, Jr. who would go on to win as Recording Secretary in 1976 and serve 15 years as the first black president of ATU Local 689.


Tucker planned to run for president of the union in 1980 in the aftermath of a seven-day wildcat strike and put together a slate with candidates for all top five union positions and many shop steward positions in the work locations.


He was regarded as a serious contender for president, given the incumbent George Davis’s weaknesses.


However he neglected to pay his union dues while out on workers’ compensation and was disqualified from running. The International union Constitution and the local bylaws barred anyone running for office who had been two months or more in arrears in their dues for a period two years prior to nomination.


Davis was defeated in the 1980 election by Charles Boswell who had no previous union experience.


For a blog post on the turmoil in the D.C. transit union from 1974-80, see


For more information and related images, see


The photographer is unknown. The image was donated by Craig Simpson


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Taken in January 1971