International Longshoremen's and Warehousemen's UnionVariant names
In the years following World War II, rank-and-file members of the International Longshoremen's Association became increasingly restive as a result of dissatisfaction with union contracts. Finally, in the fall of 1951, a series of unauthorized strikes was climaxed by a twenty-one day wildcat strike in the Port of New York. The strikers included several high-ranking ILA officials and a future president, Thomas Gleason. The strike ended when a board of inquiry to investigate the strikers' grievances was appointed by Edward Corsi, the New York State Industrial Commissioner. The so-called Corsi board uncovered several irregularities, including numerous fraudulent votes in the contract referendum. Shortly after this incident, the New York State Crime Commission hearings on the New York waterfront produced many sensational charges of corruption and racketeering against ILA officials, many of which were unproven. Nevertheless, embarassed by the charges and assuming the accuracy of the Crime Commission's findings, the AFL demanded a variety of reforms from ILA officials. When lengthy negotiations failed to produce a satisfactory agreement, the AFL suspended the ILA on September 22, 1953. Three days later the AFL issued a charter covering the old ILA jurisdiction to the International Brotherhood of Longshoremen (IBL).
In an NLRB representational election in December 1953, the ILA won by a comfortable majority. Thereafter, the IBL remained a factor on the waterfront but did not seriously challenge the ILA's hegemony. On November 17, 1959, the IBL merged with the ILA, which in turn reaffiliated with the AFL-CIO.
From the description of International Longshoremen's Association : reference files of the International Longshoremen's and Warehousemen's Union, 1921-1984. (New York University). WorldCat record id: 477249349
In 1986, the International Longshoremen’s and Warehousemen’s Union de-accessioned reference files from its Anne Rand Research Library pertaining to its rival, the New York-based International Longshoremen's Association, and donated them to the Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives at New York University. The ILWU and its reference librarian, Carol Schwartz believed an East Coast location would better serve the research needs of scholars studying Atlantic and Gulf Coast maritime history.
As historian Gary Fink has written, "Longshoremen’s unions on the West Coast had traditionally carried on a volatile relationship with the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA)." (Fink, Labor Unions, Greenwood Press, 1977, p.196) Despite fluctuating fortunes of West Coast locals, and a powerful employers association that dominated the industry until the mid-1930s, western longshoremen maintained an uneasy affiliation with the ILA until its conservative president, Joseph Ryan clashed openly with West Coast militants over issues that culminated in the historic San Francisco general Strike of 1934. When militant leader Harry Bridges was elected president of the San Francisco ILA local in 1934 (and later West Coast District president) a split became inevitable. In 1937 the Bridges group obtained a charter from the CIO for the International longshoremen’s and Warehousemen’s Union, representing Pacific Coast longshoremen. In the 1940s the two unions added to their ranks while keeping a wary eye on each other, until the ILWU fell afoul of Taft-Hartley Act anti-Communist provisions. Bridges became entangled in legal battles to avoid deportation to his native Australia, and the union found itself vulnerable to raids by the Teamsters and other rivals. At the same time, in the post-World war II period ILA members became increasingly dissatisfied with their leadership, and widespread charges of corruption brought an investigation of the union by the New York State Crime Commission. The result was inconclusive, but the American Federation of Labor demanded extensive reforms; when talks with the ILA broke down the AFL suspended the union and soon chartered a rival, the International Brotherhood of Longshoremen. The fledgling IBL failed make serious inroads in ILA membership, and the ILA reaffiliated to the AFL-CIO in 1959.
This contentious history forms the backdrop to the ILWU’s amassing of extensive reference files on the ILA and its travails. This collection represents an unusual glimpse of a union’s serious effort to monitor the fortunes of a rival labor organization -- in this case, a rival with which it had once been affiliated.
From the guide to the International Longshoremen's Association: Reference Files Compiled by the International Longshoremen's and Warehousemen's Union, Bulk, 1950-1979, 1921-1984, (Bulk 1950s-1970s), (Tamiment Library / Wagner Archives)
|Place Name||Admin Code||Country|
|New York (N.Y.)|
|New York (State)--New York|
|Collective bargaining--Stevedores--United States|
|Strikes and lockouts--Stevedores--New York (State)--New York|
|Stevedores--Labor unions--United States|
|Strikes and lockouts--Oregon--Portland|
|Strikes and lockouts--Stevedores|
|Strikes and lockouts|