Secretary-Treasurer, TWU Local 100
Earl Phillips is the highest-ranking Barbadian in trade a union outside of his country. As Secretary Treasurer of the Transport Workers Union, Local 100 Earl represents 46,000 members employed by MTA-New York City Transit Authority (NYCTA), MaBSTOA, MTA Bus, and private bus companies in Queens, Brooklyn and Westchester. TWU Local 100 members maintain a system that moves more than eight million riders a day throughout the boroughs of New York which makes this one of largest mass transportation systems in the world.
During his teenage years, Barbados was heavily charged with trade union actions. This enabled Earl, at a very young age, to understand that trade unionism is vital to the economic and social growth of the middle class and the building of the community at large. He felt it imperative to be a part of the labor movement, so he studied a trade that was heavily unionized.
Earl completed both primary and secondary education and further pursued his studies in automotive engineering at the Barbados Polytechnic Institute.
In 1987 Earl emigrated to the United States where he settled in the melting pot of Brooklyn, NY and made it his home. In 1989, Earl successfully started his own auto repair shop in Brooklyn. In 1993, he secured employment with the New York City Transit Authority as a Chassis Maintainer and became a Local 100 member.
While on the job, Earl often witnessed work situations that compromised the safety and livelihoods of his fellow workers. He felt compelled to make changes in the way things operated, and he began advocating for a safer work environment. His activism and determination to protect the safety of all transit workers propelled him to a job with the union as a Field Safety Representative.
Determined to make change for better working conditions, improved wages and fairness in the workplace for his fellow brothers and sisters, in 2010 he teamed up with then Local 100 President John Samuelsen to form a slate that among other things promised a more aggressive workplace safety agenda. A successful election campaign brought the Samuelsen slate to office, and Earl was named Director of Safety and Health. The following year, the Local 100 Executive Board elected Earl to fill an unexpected vacancy in the office of Local Secretary Treasurer. In 2013, the Local 100 membership elected Earl to a full three-year term in that office and has been elected with ever-increasing majorities in every election since then. He leads with integrity, humility empathy and fearlessness and as a result is a most popular figure in Local 100 today
As Secretary Treasurer, Earl Phillips is not only responsible for the finances of the union and compliance to LMRDA standards, but he, along with the leadership, is the driving force behind negotiating collective bargaining agreements for the workers as well as influencing legislation that supports the growth of the working class for union members and for the community on the whole.
In addition to Earl’s role as Secretary Treasurer, he serves as TWU Local 100’s Trustee on the Board of the New York City Employee Retirement System (NYCERS), which manages assets totaling $137 billion. He is a board member of the Workforce Development Institute (WDI) a New York State, wide non-profit that works to grow and keep good jobs in New York State by facilitation projects that build skills and strengthen employers’ ability to hire and promote workers. He is also a is board member of the American Foundation of the University of the West Indies (AFUWI).
Earl serves on the Board of the TWU Counseling Center, Where TWU Local 100 members and community residents can access the Center’s services, including obtaining grants for first-time home-owners, financial counseling to help union members qualify to purchase homes, improve credit ratings or refinance high interest mortgages, and foreclosure prevention.
In the past, Earl has been the Grand Marshal at the West Indian Day Parade. He has also been honored by the New York Chapter of the NAACP, and by the New York State Comptroller for outstanding service in labor. He received a Citation from the Brooklyn Borough President and has been acknowledged by City & State Magazine as one of Brooklyn’s most influential leaders.
Earl is an active member of the Board of the Bed-Stuy Campaign Against Hunger
(BSCAH). BSCAH is the largest food pantry in Brooklyn, providing the basic staples of a well- balanced diet to more than 12,000 low-income people ranging from single mothers with children, senior citizens, and people with disabilities.
In addition to his financial contributions to the Panamanian Parade, Earl has served as an invaluable link between the Panamanian and Barbadian communities of New York, along with Consul General Mackie Holder of Barbados. Earl and Consul General Holder have planted the seeds that have produced a flourishing relationship.