The Transport Workers Union of America (TWU) has a strong history of fighting for civil and human rights that began with our founder, Mike Quill. Unlike other unions, which often treated black Americans as second-class citizens, Quill was ahead of his time by insisting on equality for our black Members.
In 1961, when twenty-five TWU airline workers in Tennessee protested against the union’s support for the Civil Rights desegregation campaign, Quill’s response was to invite the civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. to address the TWU Constitutional Convention. He introduced Dr. King to the gathering as “the man who is entrusted with the banner of American liberty that was taken from Lincoln when he was shot 95 years ago. Dr. King’s life at this moment is in just as great danger as was Lincoln’s.” Quill added, “And he has to walk with care if he is to continue to lead this crusade.”
Upon Quill’s death in 1966, after winning a major victory for New York City subway workers, Dr. King memorialized his fellow crusader. “He spent his life ripping the chains of bondage off his fellow man,” Dr. King declared. “This is a man the ages will remember.”
In tribute to the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the TWU continues to fight for the civil and human rights of all workers. Normally this weekend, the TWU would observe that tradition at our annual MLK Convention with speakers, workshops, parades, and community service. However, in the interest of safety, we acknowledged our responsibility to follow necessary COVID-19 restrictions and honored Dr. King. Through virtual events. Your Union recognizes that Workers Rights are Human Rights, especially during these challenging times, and the TWU continues the fight for equality and freedom every day.