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Transport Workers Union of America

Transport Workers Union of America

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Transport Workers Union of America (TWU) is a United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 labor union
Trade union
A trade union, trades union or labor union is an organization of workers that have banded together to achieve common goals such as better working conditions. The trade union, through its leadership, bargains with the employer on behalf of union members and negotiates labour contracts with...

 that was founded in 1934 by subway
Rapid transit
A rapid transit, underground, subway, elevated railway, metro or metropolitan railway system is an electric passenger railway in an urban area with a high capacity and frequency, and grade separation from other traffic. Rapid transit systems are typically located either in underground tunnels or on...

 workers in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

, then expanded to represent transit employees in other cities, primarily in the eastern U.S. This article discusses the parent union and its largest local, Local 100, which represents the transport workers of New York City. The TWU is a member of the AFL-CIO
AFL-CIO
The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, commonly AFL–CIO, is a national trade union center, the largest federation of unions in the United States, made up of 56 national and international unions, together representing more than 11 million workers...

.

The TWU established a reputation for militancy and for left-wing politics and was one of the first unions to join the Congress of Industrial Organizations
Congress of Industrial Organizations
The Congress of Industrial Organizations, or CIO, proposed by John L. Lewis in 1932, was a federation of unions that organized workers in industrial unions in the United States and Canada from 1935 to 1955. The Taft-Hartley Act of 1947 required union leaders to swear that they were not...

. Its president, Mike Quill
Mike Quill
Michael J. Quill was one of the founders of the Transport Workers Union of America , a union founded by subway workers in New York City that expanded to represent employees in other forms of transit, and the President of the TWU for most of the first thirty years of its existence...

, renounced his former Communist
Communist Party USA
The Communist Party USA is a Marxist political party in the United States, established in 1919. It has a long, complex history that is closely related to the histories of similar communist parties worldwide and the U.S. labor movement....

 allies in the early days of the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

, avoiding expulsion from the CIO.

The TWU began representing airline employees in 1945, when it organized ground service employees at Pan American World Airways
Pan American World Airways
Pan American World Airways, commonly known as Pan Am, was the principal and largest international air carrier in the United States from 1927 until its collapse on December 4, 1991...

 in Miami
Miami, Florida
Miami is a city located on the Atlantic coast in southeastern Florida and the county seat of Miami-Dade County, the most populous county in Florida and the eighth-most populous county in the United States with a population of 2,500,625...

; it then expanded to represent flight attendants and airline maintenance employees as well. The American Airlines
American Airlines
American Airlines, Inc. is the world's fourth-largest airline in passenger miles transported and operating revenues. American Airlines is a subsidiary of the AMR Corporation and is headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas adjacent to its largest hub at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport...

 flight attendants in its membership seceded to form their own union, the Association of Professional Flight Attendants
Association of Professional Flight Attendants
The Association of Professional Flight Attendants represents the 19,900 US-based flight attendants of American Airlines. APFA union headquarters is located in Euless, Texas....

, in the 1970s. TWU represents ground service employees, maintenance workers, flight attendants and other employees at a number of different airlines, including American Airlines, Northwest Airlines
Northwest Airlines
Northwest Airlines, Inc. was a major United States airline founded in 1926 and absorbed into Delta Air Lines by a merger approved on October 29, 2008, making Delta the largest airline in the world...

, Continental Airlines
Continental Airlines
Continental Airlines was a major American airline now merged with United Airlines. On May 3, 2010, Continental Airlines, Inc. and UAL, Inc. announced a merger via a stock swap, and on October 1, 2010, the merger closed and UAL changed its name to United Continental Holdings, Inc...

, United Airlines
United Airlines
United Air Lines, Inc., is the world's largest airline with 86,852 employees United Air Lines, Inc., is the world's largest airline with 86,852 employees United Air Lines, Inc., is the world's largest airline with 86,852 employees (which includes the entire holding company United Continental...

, Southwest Airlines
Southwest Airlines
Southwest Airlines Co. is an American low-cost airline based in Dallas, Texas. Southwest is the largest airline in the United States, based upon domestic passengers carried,...

, America West Airlines
America West Airlines
America West Airlines corporate offices were in Tempe, Arizona and the main hub was at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. The airline became part of the US Airways Group after a merger in 2005....

 and Alaska Airlines
Alaska Airlines
Alaska Airlines is an airline based in the Seattle suburb of SeaTac, Washington in the United States. The airline originated in 1932 as McGee Airways. After many mergers with and acquisitions of other airlines, including Star Air Service, it became known as Alaska Airlines in 1944...

.

It also represents employees of Amtrak, Conrail and several small short line carriers. The TWU began representing railway employees in 1954, when it absorbed the United Railroad Workers Organizing Committee, an organizing committee formed by the CIO in 1943 as a rival to the railway brotherhoods within the American Federation of Labor
American Federation of Labor
The American Federation of Labor was one of the first federations of labor unions in the United States. It was founded in 1886 by an alliance of craft unions disaffected from the Knights of Labor, a national labor association. Samuel Gompers was elected president of the Federation at its...

.

Origins of the Union


When the union began organizing subway workers in New York in the early 1930s, two of the three subway systems were privately owned and operated. Earlier efforts to organize unions in the industry, generally along craft lines
Craft unionism
Craft unionism refers to organizing a union in a manner that seeks to unify workers in a particular industry along the lines of the particular craft or trade that they work in by class or skill level...

, had been beaten in 1905, 1910, 1916, 1919 and 1926. Most workers on the Interborough Rapid Transit Company
Interborough Rapid Transit Company
The Interborough Rapid Transit Company was the private operator of the original underground New York City Subway line that opened in 1904, as well as earlier elevated railways and additional rapid transit lines in New York City. The IRT was purchased by the City in June 1940...

 (IRT) and the Brooklyn–Manhattan Transit Corporation (BMT) were represented by company union
Company union
A company union is a trade union which is located within and run by a company or by the national government, and is not affiliated with an independent trade union. Company unions were outlawed in the United States by the 1935 National Labor Relations Act, due to their use as agents for interference...

s, while the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers
Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers
The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen is a labor union founded in Marshall, Michigan, on May 8, 1863, as the Brotherhood of the Footboard. A year later, its name was changed to the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, sometimes referred to as the Brotherhood of Engineers...

 and the Brotherhood of Railway Signalmen represented small pockets of skilled workers employed by the BMT.

When The Great Depression hit, public and private management took advantage of high unemployment rates by offering jobs to and keeping on only those individuals willing to accept excessively low wages, brutal management practices, poor working conditions, and other severe aspects. With the national unemployment rate reaching 25 percent, there were nearly 20,000 applicants for every one job in the transit industry.

Pay cuts of ten percent by both the IRT and the BMT, along with the layoff of thousands of employees and a speed up of work for those who remained, spurred new organizing efforts in 1932. Seven subway workers who belonged to Clan na Gael
Clan na Gael
The Clan na Gael was an Irish republican organization in the United States in the late 19th and 20th centuries, successor to the Fenian Brotherhood and a sister organization to the Irish Republican Brotherhood...

, a longstanding Irish nationalist organization that had received an influx of veterans of the Irish Republican Army
Irish Republican Army
The Irish Republican Army was an Irish republican revolutionary military organisation. It was descended from the Irish Volunteers, an organisation established on 25 November 1913 that staged the Easter Rising in April 1916...

 in the 1920s, and who were inspired by the socialism
Socialism
Socialism is an economic system characterized by social ownership of the means of production and cooperative management of the economy; or a political philosophy advocating such a system. "Social ownership" may refer to any one of, or a combination of, the following: cooperative enterprises,...

 and trade union work of James Connolly
James Connolly
James Connolly was an Irish republican and socialist leader. He was born in the Cowgate area of Edinburgh, Scotland, to Irish immigrant parents and spoke with a Scottish accent throughout his life. He left school for working life at the age of 11, but became one of the leading Marxist theorists of...

, met to discuss formation of a trade union. Used to the secrecy of Clan na Gael, they proceeded cautiously, first seeking help from Irish organizations, such as the Ancient Order of Hibernians
Ancient Order of Hibernians
The Ancient Order of Hibernians is an Irish Catholic fraternal organization. Members must be Catholic and either Irish born or of Irish descent. Its largest membership is now in the United States, where it was founded in New York City in 1836...

 and the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick.

When those groups declined to involve themselves in something this controversial, the organizers approached the Communist Party. The Communist Party had, in fact, been making organizing efforts of its own among transit workers, beginning in 1933. John Santo and Austin Hogan, Trade Union Unity League
Trade Union Unity League
The Trade Union Unity League was an industrial union umbrella organization of the Communist Party of the United States between 1929 and 1935...

 organizers, met with the Clan na Gael's members in a cafeteria at Columbus Circle
Columbus Circle
Columbus Circle, named for Christopher Columbus, is a major landmark and point of attraction in the New York City borough of Manhattan, located at the intersection of Eighth Avenue, Broadway, Central Park South , and Central Park West, at the southwest corner of Central Park. It is the point from...

 on April 12, 1934. The name that they chose for the new union was a tribute to the Irish Transport and General Workers Union led by Jim Larkin and Connolly twenty years earlier.

The new organization, founded during the CPUSA's ultrarevolutionary phase as part of the Third Period
Third Period
The Third Period is a ideological concept adopted by the Communist International at its 6th World Congress, held in Moscow in the summer of 1928....

, focused both on organizing workers into the union and recruiting members for the Party through mimeographed shop papers with titles such as "Red Shuttle" or "Red Dynamo". The new union appointed Thomas H. O'Shea
Thomas H. O'Shea
Thomas H. O'Shea was an Irish Revolutionary and one of the founders of the Transport Workers Union of America , subway workers in New York City that expanded to represent members in other forms of transit nationwide. O'Shea was appointed the first President of the TWU in 1934 and later ousted and...

 — who would later become a witness against it before the Dies Committee
House Un-American Activities Committee
The House Committee on Un-American Activities or House Un-American Activities Committee was an investigative committee of the United States House of Representatives. In 1969, the House changed the committee's name to "House Committee on Internal Security"...

 — as its first president.

The TWU declared its aim to represent all public transit workers in the City, regardless of craft, and campaigned to reverse the ten percent wage cut, increase wages to meet increases in the cost of living, limit the workweek to forty hours and hire more workers to eliminate the speedup and to establish safe and sanitary working conditions. The union proceeded clandestinely, forming small groups of trusted friends in order to keep informers at bay, meeting in isolated locations and in subway tunnels. Even so the IRT managed to infiltrate spies into the organization, as the union discovered when it obtained some of the company's files from sympathetic sources.

One of the workers who had been in attendance at that meeting, Michael J. Quill, quickly attained leadership in this fledgling organization. One of the few who was willing to accept identification as a union activist, he also spread the word about the new union by handing out flyers and delivering soapbox speeches in front of company facilities. His abilities in public speaking
Public speaking
Public speaking is the process of speaking to a group of people in a structured, deliberate manner intended to inform, influence, or entertain the listeners...

, and 'playing to the media
Mass media
Mass media refers collectively to all media technologies which are intended to reach a large audience via mass communication. Broadcast media transmit their information electronically and comprise of television, film and radio, movies, CDs, DVDs and some other gadgets like cameras or video consoles...

' boosted his effectiveness and the overall draw of the union. Another prominent figure in early union history was Douglas McMahon, who led a group of lieutenants assisting Quill.

After a year of organizing, the union formed a Delegates Council, made up of representatives from sections of the system. The new union nearly foundered, however, when Santo and Hogan, delivering the news of a change in party line as the Third Period gave way to the Popular Front
Popular front
A popular front is a broad coalition of different political groupings, often made up of leftists and centrists. Being very broad, they can sometimes include centrist and liberal forces as well as socialist and communist groups...

 era, directed O'Shea and Quill to abandon efforts to form a new union and to run instead for office in the IRT company union, the Interborough Brotherhood. Quill denounced the plan vociferously, to the point that he was nearly expelled from the union. Quill came around, however, by the next party meeting and began attending Brotherhood meetings — while still recruiting workers there to joint the TWU.

TWU members succeeded, in fact, in turning Brotherhood meetings into a platform for the new union. The Brotherhood had agreed to a new pension program to replace the one that the IRT had created during the 1916 strike. The new plan, which went into effect in 1934, shifted most of the cost to workers. TWU activists attacked the plan and the pay cut from two years before at Brotherhood meetings that hundreds of IRT employees attended, taking over the platform at some meetings and holding large rallies outside the meeting hall in other cases.

The first significant strike
Strike action
Strike action, also called labour strike, on strike, greve , or simply strike, is a work stoppage caused by the mass refusal of employees to work. A strike usually takes place in response to employee grievances. Strikes became important during the industrial revolution, when mass labour became...

 by the newly formed union
Trade union
A trade union, trades union or labor union is an organization of workers that have banded together to achieve common goals such as better working conditions. The trade union, through its leadership, bargains with the employer on behalf of union members and negotiates labour contracts with...

 was in 1935. Previous strike attempts in 1905, 1910, 1916 and 1919 were crushed by the transit companies' use of beakies, hired goon
Goon
A goon is someone that is employed as someone's personal enforcer, such as either a personal bodyguard or a ruffian who is kept on staff to intimidate or assault people.Goon may also refer to:*A performer in The Goon Show...

s who intimidated and violently attacked any who opposed the transit companies.

On July 9, 1935, however, the Squeegee Strike demonstrated the power of the union. Management at the Jerome Avenue barn in the Bronx attempted to make the cleaning crews work faster by forcing the use of a 14-inch squeegee
Squeegee
A squeegee, squilgee or sometimes squimjim, is an onomatopoeically named tool with a flat, smooth rubber blade, used to remove or control the flow of liquid on a flat surface...

 instead of the customary 10-inch tool. When six Car Cleaners were fired for insubordination, a two-day walkout inspired by the TWU caused the mangament to acquiesce and reinstate the workers.

A second incident that helped establish the union's reputation among transit workers was initiated the next month by the IRT,
when Quill and a number of colleagues were jumped by beakies at Grand Central Station. Strangely, this led to Quill and four other union activists, including Herbert C. Holmstrom, Thomas H. O'Shea
Thomas H. O'Shea
Thomas H. O'Shea was an Irish Revolutionary and one of the founders of the Transport Workers Union of America , subway workers in New York City that expanded to represent members in other forms of transit nationwide. O'Shea was appointed the first President of the TWU in 1934 and later ousted and...

, Patrick McHugh and Serafino Machado, being arrested for inciting a riot. The charges were later quickly dismissed by a court. Nonetheless, the incident was retold in the media and at various work locations, where it epitomized and typified the cumulative history of abuses suffered by transit workers throughout the city.

Organizing among the more dispersed transit workers outside the powerhouses, machine shops and car barns proved to more challenging. The union relied to some extent on the network of Clan na Gael members scattered throughout the IRT; those workers could appeal, using the prestige of their past association with the Irish Republican Army, to the thousands of Irish workers around them. The clandestine style of the IRA both aided in organizing fearful workers and attracted them by imbuing the organization with the mystique of secrecy and intrigue.

At the same time Santo and Hogan recruited transit workers into the Communist Party, which organized along similar lines. The party began taking a far less visible role, however, as the organizing drive picked up steam and as the party entered the Popular Front era. The Communist Party stopped publishing its shop papers after some workers complained that they were hurting the union's organizing drive. While Communisty Party members still provided much of the leadership for the union, they refrained from identifying themselves as such.

Later the party directed the union to seek affiliation within the American Federation of Labor
American Federation of Labor
The American Federation of Labor was one of the first federations of labor unions in the United States. It was founded in 1886 by an alliance of craft unions disaffected from the Knights of Labor, a national labor association. Samuel Gompers was elected president of the Federation at its...

, which it finally did in 1936, after unsuccessful negotiations with the Amalgamated Association of Street Railway Employees
Amalgamated Transit Union
The Amalgamated Transit Union is a labor union in the United States and The Amalgamated Transit Union Canadian Council in Canada, representing workers in the transit system and other industries...

, by becoming Lodge 1547 of the International Association of Machinists
International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers
The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers is an AFL-CIO/CLC trade union representing approx. 646,933 workers as of 2006 in more than 200 industries.-Formation and early history:...

. The union did so, but did not relinquish any significant amount of its autonomy during what proved to be a short-lived relationship.

Winning recognition


The union continued its patient organizing campaign until January 23, 1937, when the BMT fired two union members at the Kent Avenue powerhouse plant in Brooklyn
Brooklyn
Brooklyn is the most populous of New York City's five boroughs, with nearly 2.6 million residents, and the second-largest in area. Since 1896, Brooklyn has had the same boundaries as Kings County, which is now the most populous county in New York State and the second-most densely populated...

 for union activity. The TWU at the time had no more than thirty-five members out of more than 500 workers there. Two days later, however, at 3:00 p.m., the 498 employees there, all wearing TWU buttons, began a sitdown strike
Sitdown strike
A sit-down strike is a form of civil disobedience in which an organized group of workers, usually employed at a factory or other centralized location, take possession of the workplace by "sitting down" at their stations, effectively preventing their employers from replacing them with strikebreakers...

, seizing control of the plant until management reinstated the three workers it had fired. Other BMT employees established a picket line outside the plan and defended it from the efforts of the police to retake it, while helping to supply the workers inside with food supplied by the Retail Clerks union.

The union then gave the BMT a deadline: reinstate the three fired engineers by 6:00 a.m. the next day or they would shut off the electricity for the system, affecting 2,400,000 BMT riders. The BMT folded a half hour before the deadline and agreed to meet to discuss the union's demand for recognition as the exclusive bargaining representative of its employees. While the union did not win that demand, its victory at Kent Avenue established it as the de facto representative of these workers and, in time, all of the BMT's employees. Also, this marked the beginning of the end of the harsh treatment of transit workers in the nation's largest city.

The TWU severed its relations with the Machinists and joined the CIO as a national union on May 10, 1937. Quill had already replaced O'Shea as President of the union, while Santo became its Secretary-Treasurer.

The union won an NLRB
National Labor Relations Board
The National Labor Relations Board is an independent agency of the United States government charged with conducting elections for labor union representation and with investigating and remedying unfair labor practices. Unfair labor practices may involve union-related situations or instances of...

-conducted election among the IRT's 13,500 employees by a landslide in May, then grew to 43,000 members by June of that year, as it now had more than half of the employees of all of the three subway lines, several bus and streetcar companies and seven major taxicab companies signed up as members. The union also won recognition for most of the BMT's employees, although they found this more difficult: they were not able to displace either the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers or the Brotherhood of Railway Signalmen in the units in which they were the established representative, and took two elections to win among the ticket-sellers. The union had grown from 8,000 to 30,000 members in a year.

Public ownership


The union soon faced a serious challenge to its newly-won status as representative of the employees of the IRT and BMT when the City bought those lines in 1938. The union had already discovered that the City Board of Transportation, which ran the smaller Independent Subway System
Independent Subway System
The Independent Subway System , formerly known as the Independent City-Owned Subway System or the Independent City-Owned Rapid Transit Railroad, was a rapid transit rail system in New York City that is now part of the New York City Subway...

 (IND), was as dismissive of unions as the private lines, even though two of the three members had union backgrounds before they entered politics.

Mayor Fiorello La Guardia, who had represented the Amalgamated Clothing Workers
Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America
The Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America was a United States labor union known for its support for "social unionism" and progressive political causes. Led by Sidney Hillman for its first thirty years, it helped found the Congress of Industrial Organizations...

 as a lawyer in private practice twenty years earlier, and who had received labor's support in running for Mayor of New York, was likewise hostile to any union of city employees that could not be bent to his will and contemptuous of those that could. Even though the TWU, in coalition with the Amalgamated Association, swept the election to determine which union should represent the IND's employees, the Board refused to bargain with it. La Guardia invited the Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen to represent the motormen, but had to retreat when Roy Wilkins
Roy Wilkins
Roy Wilkins was a prominent civil rights activist in the United States from the 1930s to the 1970s. Wilkins' most notable role was in his leadership of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People ....

 of the NAACP pointed out that this brotherhood did not allow African-American workers to join, while the TWU did. The union's organizing drive on the IND, however, stalled in the face of official opposition.

The City's plan to buy the IRT and BMT threatened even greater problems, however, since the City, as prospective employer, not only threatened to refuse to recognize the TWU, but argued that collective bargaining was inappropriate for civil service employees. In addition, public ownership would make both the closed shop
Closed shop
A closed shop is a form of union security agreement under which the employer agrees to hire union members only, and employees must remain members of the union at all times in order to remain employed....

 and the right to strike unlawful.

The union, faced with a challenge to its very existence, threatened to strike if the Mayor went through with this plan. With the support of the national CIO, the union was able to maintain its collective bargaining agreements and the right to represent the IRT and BMT employees after the City took over those systems in 1940. The union soon found itself struggling with the special problems of creating a civil service system for thousands of employees, while providing representation for thousands of workers who faced problems with meeting the City's new naturalization
Naturalization
Naturalization is the acquisition of citizenship and nationality by somebody who was not a citizen of that country at the time of birth....

 and medical requirements. But the union lost ground among its members, both in terms of actual numbers after it lost the closed shop and in terms of actual support, since many workers who may have remained members saw the union as less important now that they had the seeming job security that civil service status promised and the union had lost the right to strike.

The union did not, however, concede the last point. After winning a contentious strike against the privately owned bus companies in early 1941, during which La Guardia had announced plans to have the police guard strikebreakers in the event that the companies attempted to operate, the union made public preparations for a strike against the City if it challenged the union's right to represent these employees or to roll back their contract rights. La Guardia responded by directing the Police Department to develop plans to run the subways in the event of a strike and supporting legislation that made it a crime for workers to leave transit equipment unattended. La Guardia went further and announced that while workers could choose organizations to represent them, the City had no obligation to recognize those organizations as the exclusive representative of those workers or to engage in collective bargaining with them.

In the end the adversaries resolved their differences, but in a very ambiguous way, through intermediaries, without actually settling the key issues. With the intervention of the Roosevelt administration and the national leadership of the CIO, the City agreed, in a series of telegrams exchanged in June, 1941 between LaGuardia and Philip Murray
Philip Murray
Philip Murray was a Scottish born steelworker and an American labor leader. He was the first president of the Steel Workers Organizing Committee , the first president of the United Steelworkers of America , and the longest-serving president of the Congress of Industrial Organizations .-Early...

 of the CIO, to maintain the status quo under the collective bargaining agreements with the TWU that the City had assumed, while agreeing to disagree as to whether they would bargain in the future. The parties also differed on practical details: the City took the position that promotions would be made according to Civil Service requirements, the CIO took the position that seniority provisions would still govern. The union not only survived, but regained much of the ground it had lost among transit workers during the next four years.

Internal and external pressures


At the same time that the union was fighting La Guardia, it found itself challenged by dissidents within the union and the Association of Catholic Trade Unionists and rival unions outside it. The CPUSA's dominant position within its officialdom and staff was the galvanizing issue.

Quill and the union leadership gave their opponents all the ammunition they needed by following the changes in the CPUSA's foreign policy, moving to a militant policy after the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact
Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact
The Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, named after the Soviet foreign minister Vyacheslav Molotov and the German foreign minister Joachim von Ribbentrop, was an agreement officially titled the Treaty of Non-Aggression between Germany and the Soviet Union and signed in Moscow in the late hours of 23 August 1939...

 in 1939, then coming out against strikes after the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 in 1941. The United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

' entry into the war, however, largely smoothed over many of these differences, even narrowing the union's differences with the La Guardia administration by restoring the grand Popular Front coalition to some of its former influence.

Quill disposed of his internal critics by bringing union charges against more than a hundred opponents. The union also drove off a somewhat clumsy attempt by District 50 of the United Mine Workers of America, which had organized utility workers and other urban workers far removed from the coalfields, to replace the TWU.

The union also strengthened its relationships with the African-American community. The union, which faced significant resistance within its own predominantly white membership to elimination of employment discrimination against blacks, nonetheless joined with the NAACP, the National Negro Congress
National Negro Congress
The National Negro Congress is an organization which was put into place by the Communist Party of the United States of America in 1935 at Howard University. It was a popular front organization created with the goal of fighting for Black liberation and was the successor to the League of Struggle for...

 and Adam Clayton Powell, Jr.
Adam Clayton Powell, Jr.
Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., was an American politician and pastor who represented Harlem, New York City, in the United States House of Representatives . He was the first person of African-American descent elected to Congress from New York and became a powerful national politician...

 in pressuring privately owned bus companies the other transit companies to allow blacks to work in positions other than the porter and heavy maintenance positions to which they had been relegated. The union negotiated strong language in 1941 requiring the companies to set quotas for the hiring of black mechanics and drivers to undo the historic exclusion of blacks from those positions. The union also adopted a strong civil rights platform, calling for national legislation and combating racism in its own ranks.

Expansion


The union soon expanded to represent transit workers in other eastern cities, such as Philadelphia and Boston, Massachusetts, and beyond, in Chicago
Chicago
Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...

, San Francisco, Akron, Ohio
Akron, Ohio
Akron , is the fifth largest city in the U.S. state of Ohio and the county seat of Summit County. It is located in the Great Lakes region approximately south of Lake Erie along the Little Cuyahoga River. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 199,110. The Akron Metropolitan...

, and Louisville, Kentucky
Louisville, Kentucky
Louisville is the largest city in the U.S. state of Kentucky, and the county seat of Jefferson County. Since 2003, the city's borders have been coterminous with those of the county because of a city-county merger. The city's population at the 2010 census was 741,096...

. The Philadelphia organizing drive, held during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, was especially difficult: the incumbent union, the Philadelphia Rapid Transit Employees Union, and the Amalgamated Association, TWU's AFL rival, both seized on the resistance of many white employees to government-ordered elimination of job discrimination against blacks to argue that a vote for TWU "is a vote for Negroes to get your jobs". The AFL's organizers disrupted TWU meetings and in a few cases beat up TWU supporters. The TWU nonetheless won the election on March 14, 1944 and soon entered into a collective bargaining agreement covering 9,000 workers.

The uproar over integration did not go away, however, after the election; on the contrary, some of the leaders of the PRTEU, which now represented only the company's clerical employees, called a strike that managed to shut down the transit company's operations, despite the opposition of the TWU, when the company began training eight black workers as motormen. The Roosevelt administration, faced with a strike that threatened to interfere with war production and exasperated by the seeming indifference of the company and local government, sent in troops to guard and, if necessary, operate the system and threatened to draft the strikers. The strike collapsed two weeks later, on August 17, 1944, after the government arrested the strike leaders,

The union also began representing utility workers outside the transit companies when the Brooklyn Union Gas Company employees voted to join it; it lost most of its opportunities to organize in this area several years later, however, when the CIO gave the newly-formed Utility Workers of America jurisdiction over this industry.

In 1945 the TWU expanded its jurisdiction to pursue the ramp service employees of Pan American Airways, then the largest airline in the United States, in Miami. The union soon followed up by organizing mechanics, engineers, flight attendants and other employees at Pan Am, mechanics and fleet service workers at American Airlines, and employees at a number of other airlines and maintenance contractors.

TWU's Railroad Division was originally set up in 1943 as an organizing committee by the CIO. It first established itself at the Pennsylvania Railroad
Pennsylvania Railroad
The Pennsylvania Railroad was an American Class I railroad, founded in 1846. Commonly referred to as the "Pennsy", the PRR was headquartered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania....

. The committee voted overwhelmingly to merge with TWU in September 1954. The TWU led a strike against the Pennsylvania in 1960.

Breaking with the Communist Party


The pressure on Communist Party-led unions intensified after the end of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. These pressures fell especially hard on the TWU: the government arrested Santo for immigration law
Immigration law
Immigration law refers to national government policies which control the phenomenon of immigration to their country.Immigraton law, regarding foreign citizens, is related to nationality law, which governs the legal status of people, in matters such as citizenship...

 violations and began proceedings to deport him. At the same time, Quill found the Communist Party's political line increasingly hard to take, since it required him to oppose a subway fare increase that he considered necessary for wage increases in 1947, while the Communist Party's support for the candidacy of Henry Wallace
Henry A. Wallace
Henry Agard Wallace was the 33rd Vice President of the United States , the Secretary of Agriculture , and the Secretary of Commerce . In the 1948 presidential election, Wallace was the nominee of the Progressive Party.-Early life:Henry A...

 threatened to split the CIO. When William Z. Foster
William Z. Foster
William Foster was a radical American labor organizer and Marxist politician, whose career included a lengthy stint as General Secretary of the Communist Party USA...

, then the general secretary of the CPUSA, told him that the party was prepared to split the CIO to form a third federation and that he might be the logical choice for its leader, Quill decided to break his ties to the Communist Party instead.

Quill applied the same energy to his campaign to drive his former allies out of the union that he had during the union's organizing drives of the 1930s. He was able to enlist the City, in the form of Mayor William O'Dwyer
William O'Dwyer
William O'Dwyer was the 100th Mayor of New York City, holding that office from 1946 to 1950.-Biography:O'Dwyer was born in County Mayo, Ireland and migrated to the United States in 1910, after abandoning studies for the priesthood...

, in his support, winning a large wage increase for subway workers in 1948 that cemented his standing with the membership. After a few inconclusive internal battles, Quill prevailed in 1949, purging not only the officers who had opposed him, but much of the union's staff, down to its secretarial employees.

Postwar controversies


Quill and the TWU became key figures in New York City politics in the 1950s. Quill had been elected to the City Council in both the 1930s and 1940s as a candidate of the American Labor Party
American Labor Party
The American Labor Party was a political party in the United States established in 1936 which was active almost exclusively in the state of New York. The organization was founded by labor leaders and former members of the Socialist Party who had established themselves as the Social Democratic...

, but exerted even more influence after the war when he became head of the New York City's CIO City Council and a major figure in New York City politics. He was a key supporter of Robert F. Wagner, Jr.
Robert F. Wagner, Jr.
Robert Ferdinand Wagner II, usually known as Robert F. Wagner, Jr. served three terms as the mayor of New York City, from 1954 through 1965.-Biography:...

's campaign for mayor of New York and became a lightning rod, based on his radical past, for Wagner's Republican opponent and unfavorable press attention. While the union repeatedly threatened to take the subway workers out on strike, it managed to settle with the Wagner administration short of a strike on each occasion.

The TWU did not have the same success with the administration of John V. Lindsay, who took office in 1966. Lindsay decided to take on the TWU, provoking a twelve day strike
1966 New York City transit strike
The 1966 New York City transit strike was a strike in New York City called by the Transport Workers Union and Amalgamated Transit Union after the expiration of their contract with the New York City Transit Authority . It was the first strike against the TA; pre-TWU transit strikes in 1905, 1910,...

. The world's largest subway and bus systems, serving eight million people daily, came to a complete halt. The City obtained an injunction prohibiting the strike and succeeded in imprisoning Quill and even other leaders of the TWU and the Amalgamated Association, which joined in the stoppage, for contempt of court.

Quill did not waver, saying that the judge could "drop dead in his black robes", and successfully held out for a sizeable wage increase for the union. As it turns out, however, the judge survived Quill, who died two days after the union's victory celebration. He was buried after a service at St. Patrick's Cathedral, New York
St. Patrick's Cathedral, New York
The Cathedral of St. Patrick is a decorated Neo-Gothic-style Roman Catholic cathedral church in the United States...

, his casket draped by the Irish tricolour.

Secretary-Treasurer Matthew Guinan succeeded Quill; Douglas MacMahon, who had returned to the union after being purged in 1949, became the new Secretary-Treasurer. The Legislature responded to the 1966 strike by passing the Taylor Law
Taylor Law
The Public Employees Fair Employment Act refers to Article 14 of the New York State Civil Service Law, which defines the rights and limitations of unions for public employees in New York....

, which prescribed a number of automatic penalties in the event of a public workers' strike. The union was, however, able to use the power it had shown in the 1966 strike to make significant gains in later negotiations with the City.

The TWU has continued to organize airline workers after its first success at Pan Am in 1945, The union continues to face internal challenges from workers within the union, especially skilled machinists, and from external rivals, in particular the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association
Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association
The Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association is a small, independent union representing aircraft maintenance employees of commercial airlines in the United States. AMFA is committed to the principles of craft unionism...

 (AMFA).

1980's


The Union went on strike again, this time for eleven days, in 1980. Mayor Ed Koch
Ed Koch
Edward Irving "Ed" Koch is an American lawyer, politician, and political commentator. He served in the United States House of Representatives from 1969 to 1977 and three terms as mayor of New York City from 1978 to 1989...

 finally came around, dropping the City's most extreme demands and improving the offer it had made.

2000's


Local 100, the public transit local representing New York City employees, has always been the largest and most influential local within the union. Rank-and-file opponents of the current national leadership took office on December 13, 2000. Some of their original supporters have, however, broken with the current local leadership to create an organization that remains critical of the local's performance in collective bargaining negotiations.

On December 16, 2005, after failed negotioations with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority
Metropolitan Transportation Authority (New York)
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority of the State of New York is a public benefit corporation responsible for public transportation in the U.S...

 (MTA) of New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

, the Local 100 of the TWU announced it will halt operations on two private bus lines and threatened to extend the strike to other buses and trains. The deadline for the strike was extended to December 20 at 12:01 a.m., and the TWU rejected the MTA's final contract offer at around 11 p.m. on December 19. After the deadline's passing Roger Toussaint
Roger Toussaint
Roger Toussaint was the President of Transport Workers Union Local 100, the union of New York City Transit Authority employees in New York City and is now Vice President of Strategic Planning for the parent union, an international organization.-Early life:Toussaint emigrated to New York from...

, president of Local 100 of the TWU declared the start of the 2005 New York City transit strike
2005 New York City transit strike
The 2005 New York City transit strike was a strike in New York City called by the Transport Workers Union Local 100 . Negotiations for a new contract with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority broke down over retirement, pension, and wage increases. The strike began at 3:00 a.m. EST on...

 around 3:00 a.m. on December 20. The strike, which was opposed by the international leadership of the TWU, was illegal
Law
Law is a system of rules and guidelines which are enforced through social institutions to govern behavior, wherever possible. It shapes politics, economics and society in numerous ways and serves as a social mediator of relations between people. Contract law regulates everything from buying a bus...

, in violation of New York state's Taylor Law
Taylor Law
The Public Employees Fair Employment Act refers to Article 14 of the New York State Civil Service Law, which defines the rights and limitations of unions for public employees in New York....

. http://www.goer.state.ny.us/cna/bucenter/taylor.html, http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/21/nyregion/nyregionspecial3/21taylor.html

The main issue was not wages, but Pensions. Currently, a worker can retire after 25 years at age 55 with half pay. Using the Annuity2000 Merged Gender Mod 1 Life table with ages set back 2 years, a 3.5% annual salary increase and a 5.0% interest rate for calculation purposes, the current pension costs the employer—the taxpaying public—roughly 25.4% of salary per year for someone who starts work at age 30 and retires at age 55. If the TWU Local 100 loses and the retirement age is set age 62 for that same 30 year old, then the cost per year would be 17%. This calculates to a 7% wage cut per year for every year.

A court ordered the TWU to pay fines of $1 million for each day that workers were on strike. On December 21, a judge ordered the heads of the local TWU to appear in court at 11 a.m. the following day, when possible jail time would be considered for the local TWU president, secretary treasurer, and recording secretary. Mayor Bloomberg was not in favor of jail time because he did not want to turn the heads of the TWU into martyrs. With negotiations going on the following day, the judge postponed the court appearance for the TWU heads until 4 p.m. in order to let the negotiations continue. At approximately 2:30 p.m., the TWU executive board finally voted to order workers to end the strike and report back to work.

On January 20, 2006, it was announced that the workers voted by a margin of only 7 votes to reject the contract that was negotiated to end the 2005 strike, but a revote was done three months later and the contract was overwhelmingly approved. However, the MTA has said the contract is off the table and sought binding arbitration in settling the negotiation, which ended on December 15, 2006, almost a year after the strike.

Expansion


Transit workers in Long Island, New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

, in Akron
Akron, Ohio
Akron , is the fifth largest city in the U.S. state of Ohio and the county seat of Summit County. It is located in the Great Lakes region approximately south of Lake Erie along the Little Cuyahoga River. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 199,110. The Akron Metropolitan...

 and Columbus
Columbus, Ohio
Columbus is the capital of and the largest city in the U.S. state of Ohio. The broader metropolitan area encompasses several counties and is the third largest in Ohio behind those of Cleveland and Cincinnati. Columbus is the third largest city in the American Midwest, and the fifteenth largest city...

, Ohio
Ohio
Ohio is a Midwestern state in the United States. The 34th largest state by area in the U.S.,it is the 7th‑most populous with over 11.5 million residents, containing several major American cities and seven metropolitan areas with populations of 500,000 or more.The state's capital is Columbus...

, in Omaha
Omaha, Nebraska
Omaha is the largest city in the state of Nebraska, United States, and is the county seat of Douglas County. It is located in the Midwestern United States on the Missouri River, about 20 miles north of the mouth of the Platte River...

, Nebraska
Nebraska
Nebraska is a state on the Great Plains of the Midwestern United States. The state's capital is Lincoln and its largest city is Omaha, on the Missouri River....

, and in Hackensack
Hackensack, New Jersey
Hackensack is a city in Bergen County, New Jersey, United States and the county seat of Bergen County. Although informally called Hackensack, it was officially named New Barbadoes Township until 1921. As of the 2010 United States Census, the city population was 43,010....

, New Jersey
New Jersey
New Jersey is a state in the Northeastern and Middle Atlantic regions of the United States. , its population was 8,791,894. It is bordered on the north and east by the state of New York, on the southeast and south by the Atlantic Ocean, on the west by Pennsylvania and on the southwest by Delaware...

 joined the union around 1941.

After a seven year struggle to organize, Philadelphia
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Philadelphia is the largest city in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the county seat of Philadelphia County, with which it is coterminous. The city is located in the Northeastern United States along the Delaware and Schuylkill rivers. It is the fifth-most-populous city in the United States,...

, Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

 joined the TWU in 1944; Houston
Houston, Texas
Houston is the fourth-largest city in the United States, and the largest city in the state of Texas. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, the city had a population of 2.1 million people within an area of . Houston is the seat of Harris County and the economic center of , which is the ...

, Texas
Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

 in 1947, and San Francisco
San Francisco, California
San Francisco , officially the City and County of San Francisco, is the financial, cultural, and transportation center of the San Francisco Bay Area, a region of 7.15 million people which includes San Jose and Oakland...

, California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

 in 1950. Ann Arbor
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Ann Arbor is a city in the U.S. state of Michigan and the county seat of Washtenaw County. The 2010 census places the population at 113,934, making it the sixth largest city in Michigan. The Ann Arbor Metropolitan Statistical Area had a population of 344,791 as of 2010...

, Michigan
Michigan
Michigan is a U.S. state located in the Great Lakes Region of the United States of America. The name Michigan is the French form of the Ojibwa word mishigamaa, meaning "large water" or "large lake"....

 and Miami
Miami, Florida
Miami is a city located on the Atlantic coast in southeastern Florida and the county seat of Miami-Dade County, the most populous county in Florida and the eighth-most populous county in the United States with a population of 2,500,625...

, Florida
Florida
Florida is a state in the southeastern United States, located on the nation's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 18,801,310 as measured by the 2010 census, it...

 joined much later.

Expansion also came in the form of other industries, namely, the railroads, air transportation; public untility and university service employees also joined the union.

In 1941 Brooklyn Union Gas employees joined, followed by the blue collar
Blue collar
Blue collar can refer to:*Blue-collar worker, a traditional designation of the working class*Blue-collar crime, the types of crimes typically associated with the working class*A census designation...

 workers of Columbia University
Columbia University
Columbia University in the City of New York is a private, Ivy League university in Manhattan, New York City. Columbia is the oldest institution of higher learning in the state of New York, the fifth oldest in the United States, and one of the country's nine Colonial Colleges founded before the...

 two years later.

In 1945 the workers of Pan American World Airways
Pan American World Airways
Pan American World Airways, commonly known as Pan Am, was the principal and largest international air carrier in the United States from 1927 until its collapse on December 4, 1991...

 joined the TWU with the union's successful negotiation of a collective bargaining agreement, three years in the making. Workers of American Airlines
American Airlines
American Airlines, Inc. is the world's fourth-largest airline in passenger miles transported and operating revenues. American Airlines is a subsidiary of the AMR Corporation and is headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas adjacent to its largest hub at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport...

 joined a year later, in 1946.

In 1954 members of the United Railroad Workers Organizing Committee, formed in 1943 by the old CIO
Congress of Industrial Organizations
The Congress of Industrial Organizations, or CIO, proposed by John L. Lewis in 1932, was a federation of unions that organized workers in industrial unions in the United States and Canada from 1935 to 1955. The Taft-Hartley Act of 1947 required union leaders to swear that they were not...

, voted to join the TWU. Today the union represents employees of many other railroad companies, including Conrail, Amtrak
Amtrak
The National Railroad Passenger Corporation, doing business as Amtrak , is a government-owned corporation that was organized on May 1, 1971, to provide intercity passenger train service in the United States. "Amtrak" is a portmanteau of the words "America" and "track". It is headquartered at Union...

, SEPTA, Metro North
Metro north
Metro North can refer to either of* Metro-North Railroad, a commuter railroad serving parts of New York and Connecticut in the United States* Dublin Metro#Metro North, a branch of the proposed Dublin Metro, in Dublin, Ireland...

, and PATH
Port Authority Trans-Hudson
PATH, derived from Port Authority Trans-Hudson, is a rapid transit railroad linking Manhattan, New York City with Newark, Harrison, Hoboken and Jersey City in metropolitan northern New Jersey...

.

List of International Union presidents

  • Michael J. Quill, 1934–1966
  • Matthew Guinan, 1966–1979
  • William G. Lindner, 1979–1985
  • John E. Lawe, 1985–1989
  • George E. Leitz, 1989–1993
  • Sonny Hall, 1993–2004
  • Michael O'Brien, 2004–2006
  • James Little, 2006–present

See also


  • Communists in the U.S. Labor Movement (1919–1937)
  • Communists in the U.S. Labor Movement (1937–1950)
  • 1966 New York City transit strike
    1966 New York City transit strike
    The 1966 New York City transit strike was a strike in New York City called by the Transport Workers Union and Amalgamated Transit Union after the expiration of their contract with the New York City Transit Authority . It was the first strike against the TA; pre-TWU transit strikes in 1905, 1910,...

  • 1980 New York City transit strike
    1980 New York City transit strike
    The 1980 New York City transit strike in New York City was the first work stoppage at the New York City Transit Authority since 1966. 34,000 members of Transport Workers Union Local 100 walked off their jobs on April 1, 1980, in a strike with the goal of increasing the wage for contracted workers...

  • 2005 New York City transit strike
    2005 New York City transit strike
    The 2005 New York City transit strike was a strike in New York City called by the Transport Workers Union Local 100 . Negotiations for a new contract with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority broke down over retirement, pension, and wage increases. The strike began at 3:00 a.m. EST on...


External links