Today's Articles

People, Locations, Episodes

Wed, 08.05.1925

The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters is Founded

*The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters (BSCP) was founded on this date in 1925.  This the first labor organization led by Blacks to receive a charter in the American Federation of Labor (AFL).

The BSCP gathered a membership of 18,000 passenger railway workers across Canada, Mexico, and the United States.  Beginning after the American Civil War, the job of Pullman porter had become an important means of work in the black community in the United States. As a result of a decline in railway transportation in the 1960s, BSCP membership declined. It merged in 1978 with the Brotherhood of Railway and Airline Clerks (BRAC), now known as the Transportation Communications International Union.  The leaders of the BSCP including A. Philip Randolph, its founder, and first president, and C. L. Dellums its vice president and the second president became fixtures in the American Civil Rights Movement and continued to play a significant role in it after it focused on the eradication of segregation in the Southern United States.

BSCP members such as E. D. Nixon were among the leadership of local desegregation movements by virtue of their organizing experience, constant movement between communities, and freedom from economic dependence on local authorities.  Passenger rail travel dropped sharply after its peak in the 1940s, when the BSCP had 15,000 members, to the 1960s, when only 3000 porters had regular runs.  After four decades of service as the first president of the BSCP Randolph retired.  C. L. Dellums replaced Randolph as president of the BSCP in 1968. The BSCP merged with the Brotherhood of Railway and Airline Clerks BRAC a decade later.  Dellums' successor and last president of the BSCP as an independent organization, Leroy J. Shackelford, became president of BRAC's Sleeping Car Porters Division.

In 1984, the Sleeping Car Porters Division was combined, along with Amtrak clerical employees, into a new Amtrak Division of the union having approximately 5000 members, 3500 clerical, and 1500 in on-board services, comprising the largest single unit of organized labor on the Amtrak system.  After Shackelford's retirement in 1985, his position was not filled, its duties devolving upon the general chairman of the BRAC Amtrak Division, Michael J. Young, and his successors. Thus, ended the direct lineage of BSCP leadership, with Young becoming the first non-African American to lead the on-board group. The three unions representing Amtrak onboard service workers, BRAC, the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees (HERE), and the Transport Workers Union (TWU) joined to form the Amtrak Service Workers Council (ASWC). Craft lines and separate seniority lists for on-board workers were eliminated, with one labor agreement covering all. The chairmanship of the ASWC rotates annually among the chief executive officers of each constituent union's Amtrak bargaining unit.  

Reference:

Black Past.org

New Poem Each Day

Poetry Corner

If the drum is a woman why are you pounding your drum into an insane babble why are you pistol whipping your drum at dawn why are you shooting... IF THE DRUM IS A WOMAN by Jayne Cortez.
Read More