Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen

The Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen, largest of the UTU’s predecessor unions, was founded in June of 1883 at Oneonta, N.Y., when eight brakemen crowded into D&H caboose No. 10 to change rail labor history.

At the time, rail workers earned a little more than $1.00 a day working one of the most dangerous jobs. An estimated 70 percent of all train crews could expect injury within five years. Realizing that passing the hat whenever a co-worker died was ineffective, rail workers formed a brotherhood to provide a benefit in case of death, at the time $300.00.

Begun as the Brotherhood of Railroad Brakemen, the BRT in 1889 changed its name to reflect its expansion into other crafts, with membership reaching out to include rail workers in 14 different trade classifications. Later, in 1933, the BRT organized interstate bus operators.