Transport Workers' Union

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The TWU was formed in 1934 during the depths of the Great Depression when New York City’s transit companies were abusing the nation’s dire situation. Taking advantage of the country’s 25 percent unemployment rate and subsequent surplus of job applicants companies hired and fired at will, and underpaid, overworked and mistreated their employees. Transit companies were all powerful, managers were brutal and working conditions were dangerous and abusive. For the first two decades of the 20th Century company hired goons crushed workers’ attempts at unionization, including four major strikes held between 1905 and 1919.

Over the last 75 years TWU have gained members from XX states and have grown to represent the four divisions they consist of today.

The TWU is dedicated to bettering the lives of working families. They work to safeguard, protect and improve working conditions and living standards of all workers and demand respect, dignity and equality for all. Their members make airplanes fly, subways run, buses drive, and casinos shine. They are 130,000 transit workers and they move America.

The TWU has four main divisions: Railroad, Gaming, Airline and Tranist; Utility, University and Service. The Union has 114 autonomous locals representing over 200,000 members and retirees in 22 states around the country. James C. Little is the current President of the TWU and has been serving in this position for the last three years. Joseph C. Gordon is the Secretary-Treasurer and Harry Lombardo is the Executive Vice President.

TWU’s air transport division saw the rapid growth of the airline industry between the 1920s and the late 1940s as an opportunity to charter new locals and sign thousands of workers in a new industry into membership. Many workers in the field saw themselves as pioneers and air companies took advantage of this, acting as if working for their companies was a privilege. People spent a lot of time and money training for "Airman" certificates and on job training, but could only secure jobs that paid little and required long hours. Airline employees strongly needed a well-meaning and established union to support them, but until the TWU organized workers in 1945, a number of air industry unions formed and reformed. None were able to achieve much progress.

TWU’s first victory for airline workers was the 40-hour work week. Employees were working a normal week of 48 hours with time and a half paid for overtime. TWU quickly secured the 40 hour work week with no loss of pay for Pan Am workers.

In the mid-1940s, TWU organized new locals in Miami, Florida; San Francisco, California; and New York to represent ground service employees. In September 1945 TWU signed a historic contract with Pan Am.

The following year TWU organized employees at American Airlines, which at the time was overshadowed by the size and wealth of Pan Am. In the 50 years since, TWU’s ATD has scored many victories, as well as several bitter losses, most notably the shutdowns of Eastern Airlines and Pan Am less than a year apart in 1991.

Today, TWU represents 50,000 workers in the airline industry in almost all class and crafts. They maintain contracts for their members at American, TWA Northwest, Continental, Simmons, United, Southwest, Flagship, Executive Air, Wings West, UFS Inc., AMR Services, Dynair, Ogden Allied, Johnson Controls, Aloha, Hawaiian, Horizon and Alaska Air.

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Transport Workers' Union
1700 Brodway - Second Floor
New York, NY 10019
United States


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