Pullman Porters

First Black Labor Union

The Pullman Porters were a group of Black men who worked on trains. These were not regular trains, these were very nice and luxury trains that had beds for long trips. The Pullman Porters were hired to carry luggage, clean the tubs, shine shoes, and serve the passengers. Many of them were former slaves and although they were paid more than some other jobs that required more physical effort, they remained underpaid and overworked.  Porters had to work about 100 hours a week. Most work weeks for people today are 40 hours. They made less than $20 a week and had to buy their own supplies.

In 1925, they unionized and founded The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters and Maids as they were barred from the existing White union. They were very important in helping create the Black Middle Class.The Black Middle class meant that people had a little bit more money to make a more comfortable lifestyle.

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