Training as Transformation: President Di Nino's Story

When he started as a TTC subway cleaner in 1986, John Di Nino could have never anticipated that he would one day be elected to the position of ATU Canada President.

In his early days on the job, John was approached by a union steward. He was explained the role of the union and encouraged to get involved.

John credits his growth in the union to the education that he received along the way. His first training opportunity was in 1988 at the Tommy Douglas centre as a new steward, attending Shop Steward training with fellow ATU sisters and brothers from Local 113. John went on to serve as a Steward for five consecutive 3-year terms.

ATU gave John opportunities to attend continuous training, moving on to grievance, contract, and union building and activism. Training changed John’s relationship with the union-- it is now a way of life for him.

“This s**t gets in your blood, and it never leaves. 33 years later, I’m still beating the drum and I’m not tired of it yet,” he said at a recent Shop Steward training he taught in Brampton.

Moreover, through negotiations with the employer to include educational provisions in the contract, John was able to attend post-secondary education to become a subway mechanic, as well as to partake in labour studies courses.

In 2009, John was elected as a full-time executive officer for Local 113, where he serviced for nine years. During that time, John attended extensive training (internally and at the International training centre) that enabled him to have confidence to run for National President in 2018.

John Di Nino shares his union origins story at the beginning of Shop Steward training, which he has been bringing to locals across Canada since taking office in August 2018. To date, John has presented training to 24 locals, and over 150 members. John intends to sustain momentum by offering other varieties of trainings in the future, including Duty to Accommodate training.

John is encouraged that the membership put their faith in a “maintenance guy,” in a union with leadership that historically has been “operator-driven.” John points to this fact to show that the union is growing more united.

No doubt, there are serious challenges that the union, the labour movement, and citizens will face in the coming years. But with consistent education of members and continued dialogue, we can train the next generation of leaders in the ATU!