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Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters

BROTHERHOOD OF SLEEPING CAR PORTERS


Founded in 1925, the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters (BSCP), now part of the Brotherhood of Railway and Airline Clerks, was a critical institution linking together the African American community in the south and in the north. The union, composed entirely of the African American porters and maids who worked on the railway trains that traversed the nation, was a strategic institution in the African American community. It served as the "eyes and ears" of the black community. During the period of migration of African American people to the north following World War II, the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters carried news about the conditions in the north: the availability of jobs and housing and generally what the migrants could expect from the authorities in the north. It was also a network of news about the civil rights movement in the south.

The members of the union, such as Mr. E.D. Nixon, a Pullman Porter who lived in Montgomery, Alabama and served as the president of the Alabama National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in the 1950s, often became leaders of the Civil Rights Movement. This had to do with the fact that the Porters literally had "broader horizons" due to the mobility associated with their jobs. E.D. Nixon helped provide leadership in the Montgomery Bus Boycott of 19551956.

The BSCP was organized in Harlem, New York City, in 1925 by Asa Philip Randolph (18891979). Randolph was the publisher of The Messenger, a New York monthly devoted to black politics and culture. He was a member of the Socialist Party and he believed that unions provided the best opportunity for black workers to secure a fair wage and to defend their rights.

Randolph led the union from 1925 until he retired in 1968. His union was not largeat its height it represented only about 12,000 workers, but it was strategically placed. Randolph also served as vice president of the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) in 1957.) As a labor leader, Randolph made many advances, both on the part of the union and on behalf of black Americans.

Initially, the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters (BSCP) had to deal with the Pullman Company because the company not only built the railway coaches (in its factory located in a suburb of Chicago), it also furnished to the railroads the personnel who served as porters and maids on the trains. As leader of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, Randolph organized these workers and bargained for union recognition and the right to negotiate labor contracts on their behalf with the Pullman Company. Randolph also secured inclusion of railway porters and maids in the language of the Railway Labor Act (1926). The act was designed to settle disputes through negotiation, mediation, arbitration, and to establish a protocol for the investigation and recommendations of an emergency fact-finding board.

Randolph worked for increases in wages for members of the brotherhood. The National Labor Relations Board certified the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters as the legitimate representative of the porters and maids in 1935. In 1941, Randolph pressured the federal government to provide blacks with equal access to jobs in the defense industries. Randolph threatened President Franklin Roosevelt with a large protest march unless Roosevelt established a policy of non-discrimination for African American workers and founded a national watchdog apparatus known as the Fair Employment Practices Committee (FEP). Franklin Roosevelt (18821945) agreed to this demand because the stated war goals of the United States included the fight against fascism and racism. In 1963, Randolph also figured prominently in directing the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, the largest civil rights demonstration in American history.

See also: Civil Rights Movement, Asa Philip Randolph

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"Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters." Gale Encyclopedia of U.S. Economic History. . Encyclopedia.com. 18 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters." Gale Encyclopedia of U.S. Economic History. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 18, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/brotherhood-sleeping-car-porters

"Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters." Gale Encyclopedia of U.S. Economic History. . Retrieved August 18, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/brotherhood-sleeping-car-porters

Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters

BROTHERHOOD OF SLEEPING CAR PORTERS

BROTHERHOOD OF SLEEPING CAR PORTERS. A labor union founded by A. Philip Randolph in August 1925, the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters (BSCP) represented African American porters and maids who served the white patrons of Pullman sleeping and dining railroad cars. Threatened by the union, the Pullman Company delayed negotiations until 1935, when the Great Depression and President Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal legislation helped force employers into collective bargaining. In 1937 the BSCP settled the first contract between a major U.S. company and a black union.

The BSCP also helped improve conditions for all African Americans. In June 1941, Randolph convinced President Roosevelt to sign Executive Order 8802, banning discrimination in government-related employment, and


to establish the Fair Employment Practices Committee. Randolph also helped persuade President Harry Truman to sign Executive Order 9981, barring discrimination in the military, in July 1948. BSCP member E. D. Nixon organized the Montgomery, Alabama, bus boycott in 1955, while Randolph led the August 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

Because airplanes had replaced railroads for luxury travel, in 1978 the BSCP merged with the Brotherhood of Railway and Airline Clerks and ceased to exist as an independent organization. Randolph, who had retired as president of the BSCP in 1968, died in 1979 at the age of ninety.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Pfeffer, Paula F. A. Philip Randolph, Pioneer of the Civil Rights Movement. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1990.

Santino, Jack. Miles of Smiles, Years of Struggle: Stories of Black Pullman Porters. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1989.

JohnCashman

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"Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters." Dictionary of American History. . Encyclopedia.com. 18 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters." Dictionary of American History. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 18, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/brotherhood-sleeping-car-porters

"Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters." Dictionary of American History. . Retrieved August 18, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/brotherhood-sleeping-car-porters