Machinists, TCU/IAM Mark Birthday of Labor Icon A. Philip Randolph

The Machinists and the Transportation Communications Union (TCU/IAM) mark the April 15 birthday of a giant in the labor movement, A. Philip Randolph. Randolph, a labor leader and social activist was born on April 15, 1889, and founded the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters (BSCP) in 1925, the first majority African-American labor union to receive a charter in the American Federation of Labor (AFL). The BSCP engaged in a long struggle with the Pullman Company, the largest employer of African Americans at that time, which was often met with violence and firings.

In 1934, porters were granted rights under federal law, and after years of bitter struggle, the Pullman Company finally began to negotiate with the Brotherhood in 1935, and agreed to a contract with them in 1937. Serving as its president, Randolph sought to gain the union’s inclusion in the American Federation of Labor (AFL), the affiliates of which, at that time, frequently barred African Americans from membership. In 1937, Randolph won membership into the AFL for the BSCP.

In 1978 the BSCP merged with the Brotherhood of Railway and Airline Clerks, now known as TCU, which in turn merged with the IAM in 2012.

The IAM is an affiliate of the A. Philip Randolph Institute (APRI), the senior AFL-CIO constituency group working for economic justice and employment rights.

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Updated: April 16, 2021 — 4:56 am