The Transport Workers Union of America, AFL-CIO represents nearly 140,000 members across the airline, railroad, transit, universities, utilities, and services, and gaming sectors.
TWU founding president Michael J. Quill formed the union in New York in 1934. It was the height of the Great Depression, and through his active, militant approach to organizing, Quill brought together thousands of the city’s transit workers to fight back against the greedy companies taking advantage of them and of the nation’s dire economic situation. Workers were being hired and fired at will, they were underpaid, they were overworked, and they were mistreated; several previous attempts to organize a union had failed.
During that time, Quill led strikes and sit-ins that helped TWU win its battle for New York City transit workers.
TWU then began expanding its reach outside of New York, organizing transit and railroad workers in cities across the country in the 1940s.
The union has since added members in new sectors, fighting for equality in the workplace. TWU members are mechanics, car cleaners, baggage handlers, disease control inspectors, bus operators, card dealers, flight attendants, and more.
The American Federation of Teachers, an affiliate of the AFL-CIO, was founded in 1916 and today represents 1.6 million members in more than 3,000 local affiliates nationwide.
Five divisions within the AFT represent the broad spectrum of the AFT’s membership: pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; and nurses and other healthcare professionals. In addition, the AFT represents approximately 80,000 early childhood educators and nearly 250,000 retiree members.
The AFT is governed by its elected officers and by delegates to the union’s biennial convention, which sets union policy. Elected leaders are President Randi Weingarten, Secretary-Treasurer Lorretta Johnson and Executive Vice President Mary Cathryn Ricker, along with a 42-member executive council.
Many well-known Americans have been AFT members, including John Dewey, Albert Einstein, Hubert Humphrey, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Frank McCourt, Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel, former Senate Majority Leader and Ambassador to Japan Mike Mansfield, former Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala, and former United Nations Undersecretary and Nobel Peace Prize winner Ralph Bunche.
The United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW) is one of the largest and most diverse unions in North America, with members in virtually every sector of the economy.
UAW-represented workplaces range from multinational corporations, small manufacturers and state and local governments to colleges and universities, hospitals and private non-profit organizations.
The UAW has more than 400,000 active members and more than 580,000 retired members in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.
There are more than 600 local unions in the UAW. The UAW currently has 1,150 contracts with some 1,600 employers in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.
A unique strength of the UAW is the solidarity between its active and retired members. A solid majority of the union’s retirees stay actively involved in the life of their union, participating in retiree chapters and playing a vital role in the UAW’s community action program.
Since its founding in 1935, the UAW has consistently developed innovative partnerships with employers and negotiated industry-leading wages and benefits for its members. ■
The IAFF is the driving force behind nearly every advance in the fire and emergency services in the 21st century. With headquarters in Washington, DC, and Ottawa, Ontario, the IAFF represents more than 300,000 full-time professional fire fighters and paramedics in more than 3,100 affiliates. IAFF members protect more than 85 percent of the population in communities throughout the United States and Canada.
The IAFF is governed by an executive board that is chaired by General President, Harold Shaitberger, and consists of the General Secretary-Treasurer and 16 District Vice Presidents. The board is responsible for all policy decisions and is influential in providing beneficial services to members of the International. ■
The International Longshoremen’s Association, AFL-CIO is the largest union of maritime workers in North America, representing upwards of 65,000 longshoremen on the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts, Great Lakes, major U.S. rivers, Puerto Rico and Eastern Canada.
In its 125-year existence, it has had a turbulent history.
One of the first incarnations of the modern longshoremen’s union, the Longshoremen’s Union Protective Association (LUPA), was formed to combat the exploitation of the workforce along the U.S. coastal regions in 1864.
Another version of the union was formed along the Great Lakes region, as the Association of Lumber Handlers, which would later become the ILA.
In 1914, the New York-based LUPA would be absorbed into the ILA. Dramatic events throughout the ILA’s history have led to a now modern union that is focused on preserving jobs and protecting wages.
The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW) is a large and diverse organization, representing 720,000 members across North America. Newly sworn in President, Robert Martinez, Jr., is the 14th International President in the union’s 128 year history.
Formed in 1888 in Atlanta, GA, the IAM represents workers in more than 200 industries with most of its membership located in the U.S. and Canada.
Originally called the Order of United Machinists and Mechanical Engineers, the organizational name was changed in 1891 to the International Association of Machinists and again changed adding Aerospace Workers in 1964. The IAM is now headquartered in Upper Marlboro, MD. ■