96 years ago today, A. Philip Randolph organized the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters became the first African-American Union to win a national contract in the United States and receive a charter with the American Federation of Labor (AFL). In an epic struggle, the Porters fought the bitterly antiunion Pullman Company for 12 years before the Union was recognized and a contract signed. Achieving this contract from the Pullman company was a pivotal historical moment not only for labor but for civil rights.
In a 1973 interview, Randolph said that “I knew from the history of the Labor movement and especially black people that it was an undertaking of great trial…that live or die, I had to stick with it and we had to win!” When the Porters merged with BRAC (now TCU) in 1978, they formed the Sleeping Car Porters System Division. This merger is the reason that TCU is a member of Amtrak’s On-Board Service Workers Council.