Solidarity Stories

Book ann: University of Washington Press

Solidarity Stories
An Oral History of the ILWU
Harvey Schwartz
$24.95 paperback (9780295988849)
$50.00x hardcover (9780295988832)
Published: May 2009

University of Washington Press

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.

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.


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

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

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

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

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

6. Politics: The Old Left
Keith Eickman: Idealism and Disappointment Jack Olsen: Activist and Educator Don Watson: Union Stalwart

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

A Note on Sources
Further Reading