Solidarity Stories: An Oral History of the ILWU

Paperback | June 1, 2009

byHarvey Schwartz

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The International Longshore and Warehouse Union, born out of the 1934 West Coast maritime and San Francisco general strikes under the charismatic leadership of Harry Bridges, has been known from the start for its strong commitment to democracy, solidarity, and social justice. In this collection of firsthand narratives, union leaders and rank-and-file workers - from the docks of Pacific Coast ports to the fields of Hawaii to bookstores in Portland, Oregon - talk about their lives at work, on the picket line, and in the union.

Workers recall the back-breaking, humiliating conditions on the waterfront before they organized, the tense days of the 1934 strike, the challenges posed by mechanization, the struggle against racism and sexism on the job, and their activism in other social and political causes. Their stories testify to the union's impact on the lives of its members and also to its role in larger events, ranging from civil rights battles at home to the fights against fascism and apartheid abroad.

Solidarity Stories is a unique contribution to the literature on unions. There is a power and immediacy in the voices of workers that is brilliantly expressed here. Taken together, these voices provide a portrait of a militant, corruption-free, democratic union that can be a model and an inspiration for what a resurgent American labor movement might look like. The book will appeal to students and scholars of labor history, social and economic history, and social change, as well as trade unionists and anyone interested in labor politics and history.

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The International Longshore and Warehouse Union, born out of the 1934 West Coast maritime and San Francisco general strikes under the charismatic leadership of Harry Bridges, has been known from the start for its strong commitment to democracy, solidarity, and social justice. In this collection of firsthand narratives, union leaders an...

Harvey Schwartz is an oral historian at the Labor Archives and Research Center, San Francisco State University, and curator of the Oral History Collection, ILWU Library.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:352 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.78 inPublished:June 1, 2009Publisher:University of Washington PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0295988843

ISBN - 13:9780295988849

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Table of Contents

AbbreviationsIntroduction

1. Longshore: The San Francisco Bay AreaHarry Bridges: The Beginning of the Union, 1924-1933Harry Bridges: The Coming of the Big Strike, 1933-1934Harry Bridges: Victory in 1934Sam Kagel: Union Advocate, 1934Bill Chester: Civil Rights LeaderCleophas Williams: African American PresidentWhitey Kelm: Red-Hot Union ManSam Kagel: Coast Arbitrator, 1948-1999Herb Mills: The Asbestos War, 1972-1978

2. Longshore: The Los Angeles and Long Beach HarborsRough Conditions Before the Union, 1923-1934Conflict and Triumph, 1934The Mexican American Struggle, 1934-1960Walter Williams: Fighter for African American Equality, 1943-1970Two White Guys Oppose Discrimination, 1937-1949Bill Ward: Sixty-five Years with the Union

3. Longshore, Shipboard, and Bookstores: The Pacific Northwest and CanadaMarvin Ricks: The 1934 Strike in PortlandUnion Struggles in North Bend and Coos Bay, Oregon, 1920-1940Valerie Taylor: Auxiliary President, 1949-1973Jerry Tyler: Seattle ActivistPhil Lelli: Longtime Tacoma LeaderIke Morrow: Tacoma's Soul Train EngineerDefeat and Victory in Canada, 1935-1966The Inlandboatmen's Union Joins the ILWU, 1978-1987Mary Winzig: The Powell's Books Organizing Drive, 1998-2000

4. Warehouse and Cotton Compress: CaliforniaThe "March Inland" in the San Francisco Bay Area, 1934-1938Sam Kagel: Representing the Union, 1934-1939Brother Hackett: Rank-and-File Activist, 1936-1939Billie Roberts Hendricks: Union Pioneer, 1936-1951Making It Work in Southern California, 1936-1950Unionists Fight for Racial Justice, 1942-1960LeRoy King: The Equal Rights Struggle and Labor PoliticsCotton Compress in the Central Valley, 1937-1938The ILWU Enters the Valley, 1951-1952

5. Agriculture: HawaiiCarl Damaso: Union Herald, 1930-1940Jack Hall: Islands Organizer, 1934-1951Louis Goldblatt: The ILWU Takes Root, 1943-1946Frank Thompson: Field Organizer, 1944-1946Louis Goldblatt: Cold War Battles, 1947-1960The New Union and the Island of Lanai, 1946-1947Victory at Lanai in 1951Ah Quon McElrath: Union Social WorkerAbba Ramos: Filipino Activist, 1946-1959

6. Politics: The Old LeftKeith Eickman: Idealism and DisappointmentJack Olsen: Activist and EducatorDon Watson: Union Stalwart

Epilogue: "An Injury to One Is an Injury to All"Harry Bridges and Bill Moyers: An Old Slogan

NotesGlossaryA Note on SourcesFurther ReadingIndex

Editorial Reviews

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union, born out of the 1934 West Coast maritime and San Francisco general strikes under the charismatic leadership of Harry Bridges, has been known from the start for its strong commitment to democracy, solidarity, and social justice. In this collection of firsthand narratives, union leaders and rank-and-file workers - from the docks of Pacific Coast ports to the fields of Hawaii to bookstores in Portland, Oregon - talk about their lives at work, on the picket line, and in the union.Workers recall the back-breaking, humiliating conditions on the waterfront before they organized, the tense days of the 1934 strike, the challenges posed by mechanization, the struggle against racism and sexism on the job, and their activism in other social and political causes. Their stories testify to the union's impact on the lives of its members and also to its role in larger events, ranging from civil rights battles at home to the fights against fascism and apartheid abroad.Solidarity Stories is a unique contribution to the literature on unions. There is a power and immediacy in the voices of workers that is brilliantly expressed here. Taken together, these voices provide a portrait of a militant, corruption-free, democratic union that can be a model and an inspiration for what a resurgent American labor movement might look like. The book will appeal to students and scholars of labor history, social and economic history, and social change, as well as trade unionists and anyone interested in labor politics and history.An engaging and revealing story about the 'making' of one of our country's most democratic and progressive unions--a story of the past that speaks powerfully to the challenges facing labor today. - Howard Kimeldorf, University of Michigan