James C. Little is the 8th president, elected in 2008, of the Transport Workers International Union of America, AFL-CIO, which consists of 113 autonomous Locals representing over 200,000 active members and retirees in four Divisions.
For over three decades International President Little has been dedicated to building a strong and stable future for the Transport Workers Union of America and for the labor movement. As a leader who has held many positions within the organization he is able to carefully consider what effective progress means for the TWU. “If the organization and the labor movement as a whole does not continuously evolve, then we will dissolve,” he says.
As the Transport Worker Unions’ eighth president Little has taken an aggressive and focused approach to guiding the advancement of TWU during an uncertain time for our country and union members. As part of a three-year strategic plan created at the beginning of his term, he has made some major changes within the International, and in several departments in order to better serve members and locals across all divisions. He is devoted to including members from all locals in his Strategic Planning process. Little knows the importance of teamwork and his role in facilitating the growth of the union.
Under Little’s leadership the Transport Workers Union has strengthened its role in Washington and become a louder voice in the fight for the Employee Free Choice Act, for the reauthorization of the Federal Aviation and Transit Administrations, and other issues important to TWU members and working people across the country. Little is recognized as a powerful leader in the industries that TWU represents; in 2007 he testified in Congress on railroad, aviation and transit issues and in 2011 he was appointed to the Federal Aviation Administration’s Management Advisory Council by the Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. This role has allowed Little to be a strong voice for workers and influence key issues affecting TWU members. Little represents the TWU at the national level and coordinates with other labor leaders in his position as Vice President of the AFL-CIO and on the Executive Council as well as Executive Vice-Chair of the Transportation Learning Center.
Following the legacy that TWU founder Michael J. Quill started 75 years ago, Little is devoted to equal rights for all. He’s been a staunch supporter of all women’s rights and, as female membership has increased over the years, has supported the union’s Working Women’s Committees on many levels. He’s also been active in the union’s participation in Martin Luther King Day activities and charities and is on the AFL-CIO committee of Civil and Human Rights.
Little has a vision for TWU that extends beyond his lifetime and beyond the confines of our current economic atmosphere. While Little believes in allowing each local space to grow and achieve on its own, he strives to connect brothers and sisters to each other, to their locals and to the international office in order to create a team, 130,000 strong, that will fight together for workers today and for the future of working America.
Prior to his time at the International, Little served as the Air Transport Division Director from 2001 to 2006. As Air Transport Director, Jim oversaw 44 ATD Local affiliates, 11 Government Service contracts, and 31 Airline Contracts. Little’s extensive experience has given him a strong technical background and commendable skill with negotiations, arbitrations, and organizing.
After graduating from Lewis A. Wilson Technical School’s Aircraft Mechanic program Little served as a Crew Chief on KC-135 for the U.S. Air Force’s Strategic Air Command. Once he completed his service, he worked as an overhaul mechanic for Central Aviation and Marine Inc, and then for Pan Am World Services as a Lead Instructor.
In 1971, Little was hired by American Airlines at New York’s LaGuardia airport. He first became a TWU member in Local 501 where he worked in Fleet Service. Between 1974 and 1977 he transitioned to other departments including Accounting-claims, Quality Control, Freight Control-SOC, and Operations Agent, before being hired in Flight Dispatch.
1986-1990 TWU Local 540 Section Chairman
1990-1997 President of Local 542 – Aircraft Flight Dispatchers and Meteorologists, and Operations specialists
1995-Became a member of the TWU International Executive Board.
1997- TWU International Representative
1999- TWU International Vice President. In 2000 he was assigned additional duties as Director of the Air Transport Division.
2001- Elected TWU International Administrative Vice President and was the Air Transport Director.
2005- Elected TWU International Executive Vice President; Air Transport Director.
2006-Succeeded International President Mike O’Brien
2008-Elected TWU International President