Today marks the birth of the founder of the Machinists Union, Tom Talbot. Born on a farm in Chesterfield County, South Carolina on April 27, 1849, Talbot served as the IAM’s Grand Master Machinist (President) from the IAM’s founding on May 5, 1888 until his resignation in 1890.
Talbot was working as a Machinist in the Atlantic Coastline Railway shops, at Florence, South Carolina under deplorable conditions and for very small wages when he conceived the idea of organizing the Machinists for the purpose of improving their conditions through cooperation and collective action.
After repeated efforts and many meetings held at the homes of various Machinists, a local organization was formed one night at the home of a Machinist named Green. This was in the early 1880s. Shortly after forming this organization Talbot was discharged by his employer for his Union activities. After leaving the Atlantic Coastline Railroad, Talbot moved around for a while until he landed a job at the Southern Railway in Atlanta Georgia. Upon leaving Florence, the lodges he had formed fell apart in the absence of his influence. Soon after going to work in Atlanta, Talbot began talking of organizing to his shop mates with the result that on May 5, 1888 Mike Riley, Henry Garrett and 16 other machinists along with Talbot got together in the “drop pit” and formed Lodge 1 of The National Association of Machinists later The International Association of Machinists and now The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.
Tom Talbot died on March 7, 1892
SOURCE: GoIAM.org and Wikipedia
Photo of Talbot monument in Atlanta’s Grant Park: GoIAM.org