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Environnements portuaires

 | 
Anne-Lise Piétri-Lévy
, 
John Barzman
, 
Éric Barré

Troisième partie. Métiers, Gestes, Techniques

The Longshoremen of San Francisco: An Exception in the American Labor Movement?

Robert Cherny

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  • 1 A number of works treat the San Francisco longshoremen, notably Robert Coleman Francis, Labor on th (...)

1For any port, the workers who load and unload the ships are an important part of the port environment. In the United States, dockworkers are called longshoremen or, more recently, longshore workers. Various scholars have made claims for uniqueness or exceptionalism on the part of San Francisco's longshoremen1. During the 20"’century, San Francisco's longshoremen have set themselves apart from the mainstream of the American labor movement in at least five areas:

  • a strong tradition of local and regional autonomy, including long periods with no affiliation with the AFL, CIO, or AFL-CIO;

  • an early and consistent commitment to an industrial model of union organization;

  • an early and consistent commitment to racial equality;

  • a commitment to worker control of key work processes, especially during the years 1935-1960;

  • a system of arbitration, shared with other Pacific Coast ports, that is unusual, and perhaps unique, among the ports of the world; and

  • a strongly left political orientation.

2None of these make the San Francisco longshore workers unique-one or more of these characteristics can be found among longshore workers in other Pacific Coast ports and some can be found in eastern and Gulf ports too. Each can also be found, at various times and places, among other groups of American workers. It is the combination that is unusual among American unions and, perhaps, unique among American longshore unions. This paper presents a brief chronological overview of San Francisco longshore unions during the 20th century, focusing on the ways that they differed from the mainstream of organized labor, then returns to those five characteristics and speculates on the causes for them.

1. San Francisco longshore unionism in the 20th century

3There are four major time periods for San Francisco longshore unionism in the 20th century:

  • from the late 1890s to 1919, when longshoremen belonged to the Riggers and Stevedores union;

  • from 1919 to 1933, when longshore labor relations was dominated by a corrupt and undemocratic union usually called the Blue Book;

  • from 1933 to 1960, when longshoremen created a new union, ILA Local 38-79, later renamed ILWU Local 10;

  • and the period after 1960, still under ILWU Local 10, when containerization transformed the nature of longshore work.

4This paper concentrates on the first three periods, from 1899 to 1960.

1.1. The Riggers and Stevedores: 1899-1919

  • 2 Francis, Labor on the San Francisco waterfront, pp. 16-23, 29-30.
  • 3 Francis, Labor on the San Francisco waterfront, pp. 82-91.
  • 4 San Francisco Labor Clarion, Nov. 11, 1904, p. 22.

5The Riggers' and Stevedores' Union Association was formed in 1853 with the intent "to regulate the prices of work to be demanded per ton of cargo and to regulate the wages paid to longshoremen". Throughout much of the nineteenth century, this organization seems to have been run by contracting stevedores and to have included relatively few working longshoremen2. In the 1880s, the monopoly held by the Riggers came under challenge from the city's evolving labor movement. During the 1890s, the Riggers converted themselves into a broadly based union and eventually received a charter, as Local 230, from the International Longshoremen's Association (ILA), the international union chartered by the American Federation of Labor (AFL) for longshore workers3. The ILA chartered a total of four locals in San Francisco between 1899 and 1901, some distinguished by cargo (notably the lumber longshoremen, Local 224) and others by location. There was also a weak federal union (a local chartered directly by the AFL) for warehousemen4.

  • 5 San Francisco Labor Clarion, 19 Jan. 1906, p. 3 ; Francis, History of Labor on the San Francisco wa (...)

6In 1902, the ILA changed its name to the International Longshoremen, Marine, and Transport Workers' Association, and claimed to represent all maritime workers. In the ensuing jurisdictional battle between the renamed ILA and the International Seamen's Union (ISU), Pacific Coast ILA locals disaffiliated at the request of the Sailors Union of the Pacific (SUP), the Pacific Coast affiliate of the ISU. The Riggers and Stevedores, however, were slow to disaffiliate, causing other maritime unions in San Francisco to conclude that "they were in favor of the policy of the International", a policy that the San Francisco maritime unions described as "an effort to organize an industrial union inside the ranks of the American Federation of Labor, which is organized on purely craft lines". Eventually Samuel Gompers, president of the AFL, arbitrated the dispute and, in 1908, the ILA returned to its previous name and jurisdiction5. The Pacific Coast longshore locals, however, refused to re-affiliate with the ILA and instead formed a separate organization, the Longshoremen's Union of the Pacific, apparently modeled after the SUP. In 1909, the ILA president traveled west and secured the allegiance of the dissidents by chartering a separate and autonomous Pacific Coast District, with its own district officers and jurisdiction over all Pacific Coast ports.

  • 6 Francis, History of Labor on the San Francisco waterfront, pp. 144-148.
  • 7 Minutes, 17 Jan. 1916, as quoted in Mary Joy Renfro, The Decline and Fall of the Riggers’ and Steve (...)

7The San Francisco longshoremen's union, however, refused to rejoin the ILA and persisted in efforts to create a separate union of Pacific Coast longshoremen, based on an industrial model of organization. Only in 1913 did the Riggers rejoin the ILA, as Local 38-33, in return for a new charter on an industrial model, covering all longshore work in the Bay Area6. In 1916, however, the San Francisco longshoremen once again withdrew from the ILA, announcing their intention "to amalgamate all the Unions of the Maritime Transportation Industry, between the Warehouse at Shipping Point and Warehouse at Receiving Point, into one big powerful organization"7.

8World War I had a serious impact on the Riggers and Stevedores, as they lost control over key elements in their work process-the weight of sling loads increased and the size of work gangs declined. Some longshoremen staged unauthorized strikes of particular ships or particular companies, protesting the new working conditions, but such actions ran the risk of federal intervention as endangering the war effort.

  • 8 Labor Clarion, 22 Aug. 1919, p. 3; 26 Sept. 1919, p. 3. The Working Rules that took effect 1 Decemb (...)
  • 9 Francis, Labor on the San Francisco waterfront, pp. 159-163; Renfro, Riggers and Stevedores, p. 38.
  • 10 Labor Clarion, 21 Nov. 1919. p. 10. In late December, the R&S admitted defeat and voted to return t (...)

9During the tumultuous, strife-filled summer of 1919, the Riggers and Stevedores again went on strike, seeking a wage increase to a dollar an hour, a reduction of hours from 48 to 44 per week, changes in overtime rules, and, perhaps most importantly, the restoration of a maximum slingload weight of 1,200 pounds and restoration of a minimum gang size8. Other unions disassociated themselves from the strike, however, and efforts to secure assistance from the ILA were in vain, for the Riggers and Stevedores had disaffiliated in 19169. In November, the union acknowledged that it had failed10.

1.2. The Blue Book: 1919-1933

  • 11 Renfro, Riggers and Stevedores, pp. 43-44; FRANCIS, Labor on the San Francisco waterfront, pp. 174- (...)

10With the strike clearly a failure, a group of foremen organized the Longshoremen's Association of the Port of San Francisco and Bay Districts, an independent union that claimed the broad jurisdiction of the Riggers and Stevedores-all longshoring throughout the bay area. The new union immediately signed a five-year contract with the Waterfront Employers' Union (WEU), but the contract failed even to mention gang sizes or load weights11. Called the Blue-Book union for the color of its dues book (the Riggers' dues book had been red), the new organization quickly showed that it was both undemocratic and uninterested in serious representation of its members' concerns.

  • 12 Sam Kagel, unpublished manuscript, Labor Archives and Research Center, San Francisco State Universi (...)
  • 13 Paul Eliel, Labor Problems in Our Steamship Business, Yale Review 26, new series (1937): 515-516.

11The Blue12 Book was not technically a company union since it was not created by, funded by, or controlled by the employers-although, to be certain, it did nothing to offend the companies. Sam Kagel, in a an analysis written in 1930 and based on conversations with participants, labeled it a "right-wing dual union". Paul Eliel, an official in the Industrial Association (the city's leading anti-union organization in the 1920s and early 1930s), described the Blue Book as "neither a company-dominated union... [nor] completely independent". The contracts between the Blue Book and the companies, he thought, "represented reasonable standards as to hours and wages", but Eliel also acknowledged that the Blue-Book Union "made no effort" to protect longshoremen from "working conditions that were little short of barbarous"13. Throughout the 1920s, sling load sizes continued to increase and gang sizes were sometimes further reduced.

  • 14 Francis, Labor on the San Francisco Waterfront, pp. 172, 178-79, 182-83.

12During the early 20th century, very few African Americans and no Asian Americans worked on the San Francisco waterfront. The Riggers and Stevedores admitted only whites as members, as did the Blue Book. During the strike in 1919, companies brought in black longshoremen as strikebreakers, and some of them continued to work at a few piers. By the late 1920s, however, there were only a couple of black work gangs, and they were clearly segregated by race14.

1.3. ILA Local 38-79 and ILWU Local 10: 1933-1960

13In 1933, the ILA granted a charter to a new San Francisco local, Local 38-79. The new union was immediately embroiled in a struggle for leadership among several factions. One was centered on a group who put out a mimeographed newspaper, the Waterfront Worker. They caucused at a meeting room on Albion Street and called themselves Albion Hall. Several were members of the Communist Party. A few of them won election to the Executive Board in 1933, and they used their position, in part, to secure a commitment to recruit African Americans on a basis of equality with white members. In 1934, one of the group’s leaders, Harry Bridges, won election as chairman of the strike committee for Local 38-79. From that position, he emerged as the de facto leader of the strike that began on May 9, 1934.

  • 15 In addition to the works in note 1, see also ELIEL, Waterfront and General Strikes; Mike Quin [Paul (...)

14The great Pacific Coast longshore and maritime strikes of 1934, and the San Francisco general strike of 1934, have been treated at length by a number of historians15. More than 10,000 longshoremen struck all the Pacific Coast ports. As ships entered the struck ports, their crews quickly went on strike themselves, sometimes deciding later what union they should join and what their bargaining issues were. For the longshoremen, the key issues were:

  • recognition of the ILA Pacific Coast District as bargaining agent for longshoremen in all Pacific Coast ports, and a coastwise contract with the same wages, hours, and working conditions at every Pacific coast port,

  • preference of employment for ILA members and job assignments on a rotational basis, through hiring halls operated by each local,

  • the 6-hour day and 30-hour week, and

  • $1.00 per hour and $1.50 for overtime.

15San Francisco became the storm center of the strike. When the city's organized business community secured extensive police protection to open the port, strikers and their supporters resisted in a short battle late on July 3rd and then in an all-day melee on July 5th (known since as "Bloody Thursday") that left two unionists dead and others severely injured. The governor sent in 6,000 National Guardsmen, equipped with machine guns and tanks. As strikebreakers protected by National Guardsmen began to work the port, the San Francisco Teamsters' union (truck drivers) joined the strike and so did other unions. The San Francisco Labor Council, the central body for all the city's unions, voted for a general strike to begin on 16 July. Unionists shut down the city except for bread and milk deliveries and gasoline for physicians. Many small businesses also closed their doors in sympathy with the strikers. The Labor Council called off the general strike after the fourth day.

  • 16 For the earliest analysis of the operation of the hiring hall, see Marvel Keller, Decasualization o (...)

16At the end of July, the striking longshore and maritime unions returned to work in return for arbitration by the National Longshoremen's Board, a federal arbitration body created by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The board awarded the longshoremen most of what they sought, including a hiring hall in place of the hated shape-up. In the new hiring halls, the union and employers shared the cost of the hall, but union members elected the dispatcher. With the hiring hall in place, the San Francisco longshoremen's union used the dispatch system to equalize earnings, applying the principle of "low man out", meaning that the longshoreman who had worked the fewest hours was assigned first. Most importantly, by controlling dispatching, the union prevented the blacklisting of activists and racial discrimination. The San Francisco local also used its control of dispatching to abolish racially segregated work gangs16.

  • 17 Herb Mills and David Wellman, Contractually Sanctioned Job Action and Workers’Control: The Case of (...)

17In the 1934 elections for local officers, Bridges won the presidency and other Albion Hall activists won other local offices. They provided leadership as the men of the ILA took control over key working conditions. In February 1935, the San Francisco local issued dispatch rules that specified a uniform gang size, and they used similar tactics to control sling-load weights. They simply refused to load slings larger than what they considered a safe weight. If a gang was discharged for refusing to load heavier slings, they returned to the dispatch hall. A new gang was then dispatched, and they too refused to load heavier slings17. Alternatively, they might strike an individual ship or company over job-control issues. They used their coastwise organization to inform each other of their actions and their accomplishments, and sought to make working conditions uniform at every Pacific Coast port.

18Henry Schmidt, an important leader of the Albion Hall group, second in importance only to Bridges, explained their objectives this way in March 1936:

  • 18 Voice of the Federation, March 5, 1936, p. 1, 6.

“Since the termination of the [1934] strike, the program of the San Francisco Longshoremen has been to... establish working conditions on the docks under which men can work without breaking their backs... This has been accomplished by... the determination of the men not to allow themselves to be driven like slaves as in the days before the strike and with the efforts and cooperation of the officials of the union”18.

  • 19 1935 dispatch rules and 1937 contract in Keller, Decasualization of Longshore Work in San Francisco(...)

19The limits on sling-load sizes that were accomplished in the port of San Francisco and a few other places were applied to all Pacific Coast ports in the coastwise contract that took effect in February 193719.

  • 20 Fairley, Facing Mechanization, pp. 17-18.

20The 1940 coastwise contract took an unusual step in creating a process of immediate arbitration of disputes over working conditions. The contract recognized the right of the men to stop work if they felt that their health or safety was in danger. In such a circumstance, a port arbitrator was to be "immediately summoned" to the site, to make a decision on the spot. The arbitrator's decision was then binding on both workers and employer. The union named half of he port arbitrators and the employers chose the other half. This system of arbitration, supplemented by a coast arbitrator, continues to the present, a system that may be unique among the ports of the world.20

21Midway through 1937, the Pacific Coast District disaffiliated from the ILA and joined the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) as the International Longshoremen's and Warehousemen's Union. They also launched an ambitious organizing drive to recruit warehouse workers, extending their organization from the docks to the warehouses that lined the waterfront, then to other warehouses, and sometimes to other work sites.

  • 21 Albert S. Broussard, Black San Francisco: The Struggle for Racial Equality in the West, 1900-1954, (...)

22American entry into World War II, in December 1941, brought important changes to the San Francisco docks. Workers poured into the bay area from all over the country, especially the South, to fill the tremendous need for labor. The war brought a major influx of African Americans to the bay area and to the waterfront, attracted by the opportunities for wartime work. African Americans went from only 2 per cent of the longshore workforce in 1940 to a third in 1950. This transformation was not without its tensions, but the leadership of the ILWU and of Local 10 (the San Francisco bay area local) insisted that there be no racial discrimination. The Fair Employment Practices Commission, in 1945, considered Local 10 to have the best record on race of any union in the bay area. Even so, few African Americans appeared in elected leadership positions until after I96021.

  • 22 Stanley L. Kutler, The American Inquisition: Justice and Injustice in the Cold War, New York, 1982, (...)

23After World War II, amidst the developing Cold War, conservatives targeted leftists in general, and Bridges and other left-wing leaders in the ILWU in particular22. Communists and communist sympathizers who lost their jobs in other industries often found a welcome on the San Francisco waterfront. So many joined the ILWU that some spoke of the union as a port of refuge for those on the left who were blacklisted elsewhere. In 1949, the CIO expelled the ILWU as being communist-dominated, and it remained an independent organization for nearly forty years, until 1988, when it joined the AFL-CIO. Throughout, the ILWU remained a strong voice on the left.

  • 23 Larrowe, Harry Bridges, pp. 294-99.

24In the late 1940s, at the same time that the ILWU was being isolated within the American labor movement, relations between the ILWU and their employers began to disintegrate. Employers' representatives attacked Bridges's "red"' politics, and both sides took a more rigid stance in negotiations. A long strike in 1948 seemed unlikely of resolution because the employers' representatives refused to deal with Bridges because of his politics. The employers' negotiators hoped to push the longshoremen into dumping Bridges as president, but longshoremen closed ranks behind their president. When the federal government invoked the Taft-Harley Act and sent ballots to all 26,695 ILWU members, asking if they accepted the employers’ offer, not a single ballot was returned. In the end, a rebellion developed within the employers' organization. Maritime employers completely reorganized, creating the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA), and fired their negotiators and hired new ones. This "new look" brought an end to the strike and initiated an era of less confrontational labor relations on the docks23.

  • 24 Fairley, Facing Mechanization, pp. 31-221.

25The "new look" continued when J. Paul St. Sure took the helm at PMA. By the late 1950s, Bridges had become convinced that the mechanization of longshore work was imminent, and that efforts to prevent it would alienate not just employers but the public more generally. In 1957, he asked the union to approve a study, and the study provided the opportunity for a series of meetings that discussed tactics in the face of mechanization. Eventually the union authorized negotiations on the subject. It took three years to produce an agreement, the Mechanization and Modernization Agreement of 1960. The agreement provided for reducing gang size and increasing load weights, subject to agreement by both union and employers. Men who were near retirement age were given not only generous pensions but also a sizeable lump-sum payment (equivalent to about 16 months wages). Longshore workers were guaranteed an annual wage, whether there was sufficient work or not. Wages were increased, as were pensions and medical benefits. Even so, the contract was controversial within the union, but it was approved by a vote of 2 to 124.

2. The San Francisco longshoremen

26We now return to the unique characteristics of the San Francisco longshoremen:

  • a strong tradition of local and regional autonomy, including long periods with no affiliation with the AFL, CIO, or AFL-CIO;

  • an early and consistent commitment to an industrial model of union organization;

  • an early and consistent commitment to racial equality;

  • a commitment to worker control of key work processes, especially during the years 1935-1960;

  • a system of arbitration, shared with other Pacific Coast ports, that is unusual, and perhaps unique, among the ports of the world; and

  • a strongly left political orientation.

2.1. Local and regional autonomy

  • 25 Larrowe, Harry Bridges, pp. 381-84.

27From 1899 to the present, San Francisco longshore workers have been affiliated with the AFL, CIO, or AFL-CIO for only about a third of the time: 1899-02, 1913-1916, 1933-49, and from 1988 to the present. This tradition of autonomy stems from a combination of factors. Before 1919, the Riggers and Stevedores had a long tradition of independence that went back to the Gold Rush, and they were at a significant geographic distance from the national offices of the ILA and AFL. The breaking point for affiliation, however, seems consistently to have been over policy differences between the Riggers and the ILA regarding jurisdiction, with the Riggers consistently seeking an industrial model of organization rather than the craft approach sanctioned by the AFL. At times, the Riggers espoused a jurisdiction that contained not only longshore workers throughout the bay area but also warehouse workers and sometimes other maritime trades. In the 1920s, the Blue Book was isolated as a "company union" or "dual union". After being expelled from the CIO as being communist-dominated, ILWU members developed a sense of pride in their union's independence, even to the point of opposing efforts by Bridges himself to merge the ILWU with larger, stronger unions25. As an AFL-CIO affiliate since 1988, the ILWU has retained its tradition of autonomy and independence.

2.2. Industrial model

28During the second half of the 20th century, many if not most American unions have used the mechanism of the National Labor Relations Act to extend their jurisdictions as widely as they have been able. But the San Francisco longshoremen were there at the beginning of the century, arguing for the unity of dock and warehouse workers, and sometimes including seafaring workers as well. In the mid-1930s, the San Francisco longshore union was at the center of efforts to create a strong federation of Pacific Coast maritime unions. After 1937, as a CIO affiliate, the ILWU was committed to an industrial model of organization—uniting workers from the docks to the warehouses and sometimes beyond. In Hawaii, the ILWU organized from the docks all the way to the sugarcane and pineapple fields and to the tourist hotels, following much of the chain of vertical integration of the companies that dominated the Hawaiian economy-and uniting all those workers into one local, Local 142.

2.3. Racial equality

29Before the 1930s, there was nothing remarkable about the San Francisco longshoremen's record on race: they were a union of and for white workers, just like most other San Francisco unions-and most other American unions. Several CIO unions challenged this color line in the 1930s, and, since at least the 1960s, American unions have committed themselves against racial segregation. What stands out, however, is that the San Francisco longshoremen committed themselves against racial discrimination in union membership in 1933, and that they desegregated their own workplace in 1935. This initiative seems to have resulted from the ideological commitments of local leaders who were CP members or very close to the CP.

2.4. Job control

  • 26 This is discussed at greatest length by Kimeldorf, Reds or Rackets, pp. 99-110.

30In the 1930s, many workers had lost control over the work process and when some unions were surrendering control over the work process in return for contractual bargaining over wages and hours. The San Francisco longshoremen challenged this tendency and led the way on the Pacific Coast to regain control over sling-load weights and gang size. They did this in part through organization and in part by the intensity of their individual commitment to the union. The men who struck for three months in 1934, who fought the job actions that followed, and who struck again in 1936-37, developed a bond among themselves and a deep and emotional commitment to their union, and to the leaders who had brought them through those strikes26. In the end, however, it required not just thorough organization but also control over dispatching for this reassertion of control over the work process to be successful. Thus, the hiring hall was absolutely crucial to reestablishing control of the work process. The Pacific Coast longshoremen were pioneers in decasualization through their hiring halls, and the San Francisco longshoremen used the hiring hall with great effectiveness both to cement workers' loyalty to the union and to enforce the union's position on a range of job-control issues. In understanding the union's militancy, solidarity, and power, there is much to be learned from the ILWU's rallying cry that "the hiring hall is the union".

31By taking control over sling-load size and gang size, the union made it possible for men to continue working at an age when they might previously have left the waterfront for less demanding work. Men aged 30-40 in 1934 had reached the ages of 55-65 by 1960, when the ILWU adopted its far-reaching Modernization and Mechanization agreement, which surrendered some parts of job control in return for generous retirement bonuses and pensions. Thus, in a sense, the men who struggled and sacrificed in the 1930s to wrest from their employers the control of work conditions made up a significant portion of those who sold some of that control back to the employers in 1960.

2.5. Arbitration

32The union's commitment to arbitration was gradual. In 1934, key leaders of Local 38-79 opposed arbitration, but repeated experience with arbitration eroded that mistrust. By the late 1930s, it had apparently become clear that arbitration, through a system of port arbitrators, posed a solution to what seemed an otherwise insoluble dilemma. Through the dispatch system and through job actions, longshore workers had regained control over key elements in the work process and had succeeded in writing that control into their contracts. However, continued reliance on job actions to enforce the workers' interpretation of the contract posed the danger that employers would seek judicial remedies for what they considered to be violations of the contract—just as they had done several times in the mid-and late 1930s. However, for the union to give up job actions carried the risk of losing the work-site controls that had been won. A system of port arbitration controlled by the union and employers, rather than the courts, seemed a way out of the dilemma. By the late 1940s, Bridges could proudly testify before a congressional committee that his union was committed to arbitration.

2.6. Politics

  • 27 Carbon copy, District Trade Union Sec. to Trade Union Commission, undated but apparently data for 1 (...)

33From 1934 onward, with few exceptions, the San Francisco longshore union stood well to the left, endorsing a range of left positions in local, state, and national politics. Left-leaning members of the local could, and still can, usually count on receiving a sympathetic response to proposals for support of left causes. Though willing to endorse left causes, there were limits to the union's willingness to follow their left-wing members and leaders. Several key leaders of the San Francisco longshore local leaned strongly toward the CP in the 1930s and 1940s, but there is little evidence that this political stance had much influence on the large majority of the local's members. According to CP membership statistics, in the late 1930s the waterfront (including unions other than the ILWU) had the largest number of CP members of any industry in the city, but that meant fewer than 500 CP members among some 5,000 workers27. In the 1930s, Local 38-79/Local 10 almost always endorsed liberal Democrats for political office, even when their CP-leaning leaders recommended differently. When federal authorities charged Bridges with being a CP member and tried to deport him, he denied the charge and he won court decisions, either initially or on appeal, in four different hearings or trials between 1939 and 1955. The repeated hearings and trials convinced most ILWU members that Bridges was being persecuted for being an effective union leader—for winning them the hiring hall and "pork chops". Local 10 could support Bridges for his leadership in securing the hiring hall in 1934, for winning "pork chops" for them thereafter, and because repeated federal prosecutions made him a martyr. At the same time, they could sometimes both reject his advice on politics and elect moderates to local office.

Conclusion

34This brief survey of San Francisco longshore workers over the course of the 20th century has focused on the ways that they have differed from the mainstream of American unions. The reasons for these differences are complex, some resulting from the initiative of the workers, some from outside forces. In several instances, this survey suggests the key role of local leadership, sometimes in supporting worker initiatives (as in regaining control over sling-load weights and gang sizes) and sometimes in initiating actions (as in barring racial discrimination and segregated work gangs). In other instances, San Francisco longshore unions have been isolated form the mainstream of organized labor by actions of other labor organizations, as in 1919 (when other unions failed to come to the support of the Riggers and Stevedores), the 1920s (when most unions ostracized the Blue Book), and in 1949-88 (when the CIO expelled the ILWU). At key points, however, that isolation was embraced by the longshore workers, notably when the Riggers and Stevedores asserted their vision of an industrial union in preference to affiliation with the ILA and AFL, and in the early 1970s when ILWU members rejected Bridges's proposals for mergers with other unions. In turn, this suggests yet another key characteristic of San Francisco longshore unionism since the 1930s - a tradition of union democracy with few equals among American unions.

Notes

1 A number of works treat the San Francisco longshoremen, notably Robert Coleman Francis, Labor on the San Francisco waterfront, Ph.D. dissertation, University of California, Berkeley, 1934; Charles Larrowe, Harry Bridges: The Rise and Fall of Radical Labor in the United States, New York, 1972; Lincoln Fairley, Facing Mechanization: The West Coast Longshore Plan, Los Angeles, 1979; Frederic C. Chiles, War on the Waterfront: The Struggles of San Francisco Longshoremen, 1851-1934, Ph.D. dissertation, University of California, Santa Barbara, 1981; Bruce Nelson, Workers on the Waterfront: Seamen, Longshoremen, and Unionism in the 1930s, Urbana and Chicago, 1988; Howard Kimeldorf, Reds or Rackets? The Making of Radical and Conservative Unions on the Waterfront, Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1988; David Wellman, The Union Makes Us Strong: Radical Unionism on the San Francisco Waterfront, New York, 1995; and Ottilie Markholt, Maritime Solidarity: Pacific Coast Unionism, 1929-1938, Tacoma, 1998. See also my Longshoremen of San Francisco Bay, 1849-1960, in Sam Davies et al., eds., Dock Workers: International Explorations in Comparative Labour History, 1790-1970, 2 vols., Aldershot, UK, 2000, I: 102-140. Nelson, Kimeldorf, and Wellman, among others, make arguments for the uniqueness of San Francisco longshoremen.

2 Francis, Labor on the San Francisco waterfront, pp. 16-23, 29-30.

3 Francis, Labor on the San Francisco waterfront, pp. 82-91.

4 San Francisco Labor Clarion, Nov. 11, 1904, p. 22.

5 San Francisco Labor Clarion, 19 Jan. 1906, p. 3 ; Francis, History of Labor on the San Francisco waterfront, pp. 132-137; Charles B. Barnes, The Longshoremen, New York, 1915, pp. 121, 123; Paul Scharrenberg, Longshoremen’s Claims to Cargo Handling, carton 4, Paul Scharrenberg, Correspondence and Papers, Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley ; Paul S. Taylor, The Sailors’Union of the Pacific, New York, 1923, pp. 100-102.

6 Francis, History of Labor on the San Francisco waterfront, pp. 144-148.

7 Minutes, 17 Jan. 1916, as quoted in Mary Joy Renfro, The Decline and Fall of the Riggers’ and Stevedores’ Union of San Francisco: A History of the Years 1916 through 1919, senior honors thesis, San Francisco State University, 1995, p. 5.

8 Labor Clarion, 22 Aug. 1919, p. 3; 26 Sept. 1919, p. 3. The Working Rules that took effect 1 December 1912, specified a minimum of six hold men and a maximum sling weight of 1,200 pounds; the Working Rules that took effect on 1 August 1916, had no mention of gang size or load weight. See Wage Schedule and Working Rules, adopted 25 November 1912, and Wage Scale and Working Rules, 1 July 1918, both History file, Local 10 series, ILWU Library. See also San Francisco Chronicle, 20 Sept. 1919; Renfro, Riggers and Stevedores, pp. 32-33.

9 Francis, Labor on the San Francisco waterfront, pp. 159-163; Renfro, Riggers and Stevedores, p. 38.

10 Labor Clarion, 21 Nov. 1919. p. 10. In late December, the R&S admitted defeat and voted to return to work at the prevailing wage on the waterfront; see Labor Clarion, 26 Dec. 1919, p. 12.

11 Renfro, Riggers and Stevedores, pp. 43-44; FRANCIS, Labor on the San Francisco waterfront, pp. 174-175; Paul Eliel, The Waterfront and General Strikes: San Francisco, 1934, San Francisco, 1934, p. 2; Base Longshoremen’[s] Wages in San Francisco, 1913 to Date, Employers’ Exhibit No. S, 1934 Arbitration Proceedings, ILWU Library; Wage Scale and Working Rates of the Longshoremen’s Association, History file, Local 10 Series, ILWU Library.

12 Sam Kagel, unpublished manuscript, Labor Archives and Research Center, San Francisco State University. In 1938, Robert Brooks, in an analysis of labor organizations, described a form of labor racketeering that clearly fits the Blue Book: a union that "delivers gains to [its members] which are small in relation to the income received by the organizers and leaders of the union", and in which "the union leader operates through the employer in securing his hold upon an industry rather than by direct appeal to the interests of the workers". Such union leaders, Brooks indicated, were not dependent upon the support of their members, and often securing their discharge from employment. See Robert R. Brooks, When Labor Organizes, New Haven, 1938, pp. 84-83.

13 Paul Eliel, Labor Problems in Our Steamship Business, Yale Review 26, new series (1937): 515-516.

14 Francis, Labor on the San Francisco Waterfront, pp. 172, 178-79, 182-83.

15 In addition to the works in note 1, see also ELIEL, Waterfront and General Strikes; Mike Quin [Paul W. Ryan], The Big Strike, Olema, CA, 1949; Warren Hinckle et al, The Big Strike: A Pictorial History of the 1934 San Francisco General Strike, Virginia City, NV. 1985; David Selvin, A Terrible Anger: The 1934 Waterfront and General Strikes in San Francisco, Detroit, 1996.

16 For the earliest analysis of the operation of the hiring hall, see Marvel Keller, Decasualization of Longshore Work in San Francisco: Methods and Results of the Control of Dispatching and Hours Worked, 1935-1937, Works Progress Administration, National Research Project, Report No. L-2, Philadelphia, 1939. For the abolition of "the colored gangs", see Voice of the Federation, Dec. 19, 1935, p. 5.

17 Herb Mills and David Wellman, Contractually Sanctioned Job Action and Workers’Control: The Case of the San Francisco Longshoremen, Labor History 28 (1987): 167-195.

18 Voice of the Federation, March 5, 1936, p. 1, 6.

19 1935 dispatch rules and 1937 contract in Keller, Decasualization of Longshore Work in San Francisco, pp. 131-149.

20 Fairley, Facing Mechanization, pp. 17-18.

21 Albert S. Broussard, Black San Francisco: The Struggle for Racial Equality in the West, 1900-1954, Lawrence, KS, 1993, pp. 155-157; Nelson, ‘Lords of the Docks’ Reconsidered.

22 Stanley L. Kutler, The American Inquisition: Justice and Injustice in the Cold War, New York, 1982, chapter 5; and Larrowe, Harry Bridges, ch. 9.

23 Larrowe, Harry Bridges, pp. 294-99.

24 Fairley, Facing Mechanization, pp. 31-221.

25 Larrowe, Harry Bridges, pp. 381-84.

26 This is discussed at greatest length by Kimeldorf, Reds or Rackets, pp. 99-110.

27 Carbon copy, District Trade Union Sec. to Trade Union Commission, undated but apparently data for 1936, papers of the Anglo-American Secretariat of the Comintern, fond 495, opis 14, file 22, Russian State Archive for Social and Political History, Moscow.

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