Sort by
Blog

How Unions Fight Social Exclusion in the Labor Market

81 years ago this week, a black labor union won a collective bargaining agreement with a major American corporation for the first time.

"Gentlemen, the Pullman Company is ready to sign." With that concession from the company president on August 25, 1937, the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters became the first black labor union to win a collective bargaining agreement with a major American corporation. After 12 years of struggle facing intense company opposition, the union of more than 8,000 African Americans working segregated jobs as train porters and maids won higher pay, shorter work hours, improved working conditions, and a critical element of respect and dignity. Saving their wages and tips, unionized porters and maids sent their children and grandchildren to college, supporting social mobility across generations.