National Maritime Union of America

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The National Maritime Union is a union of merchant seamen, founded in 1937.

From the description of Photograph collection, [ca. 1940-1960]. (New York University). WorldCat record id: 477248633

The National Maritime Union of America was established in New York City in 1937.

During the 1939 strike against Esso tankers a group of union dissidents (later known as the "Five Pointers") allegedly acted to sabotage the Union in the Gulf District. The NMU leadership, headed by president Joseph Curran, took action to bring an end to this dissension and to quash the schism in the Gulf District.

From the description of Records relating to the expulsion of Gulf District officials, 1939. (New Orleans Public Library). WorldCat record id: 17848083

The National Maritime Union of America (NMU), which represented merchant marine workers, was formed in 1937, as a split from the International Seafarer's Union, which was affiliated with the American Federation of Labor (AFL). At its first convention in 1937, the NMU joined the Committee for Industrial Organizations (CIO). A crucial role in its formation was played by former members of the Communist-led Marine Workers Industrial Union. Among the notable reforms achieved by the union's Communist-dominated leadership was "checkerboarding," the side-by-side racial integration of sailors' sleeping quarters. By the end of World War II, the NMU had nearly 100,000 members. The union was founded and led by Joseph Curran, who served as NMU president until 1981.

During World War II, the alliance of Communists and non-communists in the union was weakened by charges that the Communists, in their desire to maximize productivity in order to aid the Soviet Union, did not aggressively defend sailors' interests. The Cold War exacerbated the ideological divide, and in 1948, the NMU's Communist leadership and its allies were defeated in union elections and expelled.

In 1950, the NMU's Welfare plan was established, providing seamen with health, accident and life insurance benefits. In 1954 a pension component was added. Curran's successor, Shannon Wall, was not well-received by a strong minority of the union, led by James Morrissey. In 2001, the NMU merged with the Seafarers International Union of North America, which originally represented West Coast merchant mariners.

From the guide to the National Maritime Union Photographs, circa 1940-circa 1950, undated, (Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Stone, M. Hedley, 1897-1970. Reminiscences of M. Hedley Stone : oral history, 1969. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
referencedIn The Maritime Industry Strike : documents, 1965. Cornell University Library
referencedIn Leigh, William D., 1925-. Papers and photographs, 1944-2000, (bulk 1944-1945). Wisconsin Veterans Museum Research Center
creatorOf National Maritime Union Photographs, circa 1940-circa 1950, undated Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive
referencedIn Leo Huberman papers, 1937-1968 Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries
referencedIn Murray, Philip, 1886-1952. The Philip Murray papers. Catholic University of America
referencedIn Reynolds, Bertha Capen, 1885-. Papers 1907-1979 1925-1979. Smith College, Neilson Library
referencedIn Tamiment Library. Tamiment Library manuscript files collection relating to individuals and organizations associated with radicalism, the labor movement, and progressive social action in the United States, 1950-2001 (bulk 1910-1965). Churchill County Museum
referencedIn Archives Union File, 1892-2004. Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
referencedIn Lynd, Robert Staughton, 1892-1970. Robert Staughton Lynd papers, 1933-1937. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
creatorOf National Maritime Union of America. Correspondence with Theodore Dreiser, 1945. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
referencedIn Nuchow, William, 1928-1993. William Nuchow papers, 1956-1985. Churchill County Museum
referencedIn Green, Jake. Jake Green National Maritime Union photographs [graphic]. New-York Historical Society
referencedIn Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives. New Yorkers at Work Oral History Collection. Oral histories [sound recording], 1979. Churchill County Museum
referencedIn Denenberg, Tia Schneider. Arbitration files. 1984-2004. Cornell University Library
creatorOf Reed, Clarence, 1909-. Papers, 1957-1974. Churchill County Museum
referencedIn Clarence Reed Papers, 1957-1974 Tamiment Library / Wagner Archives
referencedIn National Maritime Union of America Printed Ephemera Collection, 1937-2005 Tamiment Library / Wagner Archives
creatorOf Kent, Rockwell, 1882-1971. Rockwell Kent papers, [circa 1840]-1993 (bulk 1935-1961). Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn State University of New York at Buffalo. University Archives. Jacob Kramer papers, ca. 1943-1991. SUNY at Buffalo, University at Buffalo
creatorOf National Maritime Union of America. [Constitutions, agreements, etc.] Wisconsin Historical Society
referencedIn Marine Workers Historical Collection, 1930-1996 Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive
referencedIn Deane, Ernie. Towboats, Nellie Thalmann, towboat cook, October 3, 1965 [graphic] / Ernie Deane [photographer]. Arkansas History Commission
referencedIn Reference Center for Marxist Studies Pamphlet Collection, Bulk, 1940-1975, 1900-2004 Tamiment Library / Wagner Archives
referencedIn Victor Rabinowitz Papers, Bulk, 1955-1980, 1918-2003, (Bulk 1955-1980) Tamiment Library / Wagner Archives
referencedIn Harrison, Charles Yale, 1898-1954. Stalin's American merchant marine / by Charles Yale Harrison. The Mariners' Museum Library
referencedIn Harvard University. Littauer Library. Harvard University. Littauer Library Collector. Miscellaneous Union files. Cornell University Library
referencedIn Gilbert Mers Collection MSS 63., 1936-1969 Houston Metropolitan Research Center, Houston Public Library,
creatorOf National Maritime Union of America. [Minor publications]. Yale University Library
referencedIn Tamiment Library Newspapers, Bulk, 1960-1990, 1873-, (Bulk 1960-1990) Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive
referencedIn Pieper, Fred C. Fred C. Pieper papers, 1936-1940. Wayne State University, Archives of Labor & Urban Affairs
creatorOf National Maritime Union of America. Minutes of the special meeting National Maritime Union : typescript, 1944 July 21. UC Berkeley Libraries
referencedIn Standard, William L. National Maritime Union, general counsel's files, 1937-1949. Cornell University Library
referencedIn Postek, Stanley, 1912-1991. Papers, 1933-1986. Churchill County Museum
referencedIn New Yorkers at Work Oral History Collection, 1979-2000 Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive
referencedIn Earl Browder Papers, 1879-1990 Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Libraries
referencedIn Marine Workers Historical Collection, 1930-1996 Tamiment Library / Wagner Archives
referencedIn Maritime Workers / National Maritime Union Research Files of Bruce Nelson, 1931-2011 Tamiment Library / Wagner Archives
referencedIn Reynolds, Bertha Capen, 1885-. Papers 1907-1979 bulk 1925-1979. Smith College, Neilson Library
referencedIn National Maritime Union and Seafarers International Union: Reference Files of the Seafarers International Union, Bulk, 1937-1969, 1878-1981, (Bulk 1937-1969) Tamiment Library / Wagner Archives
referencedIn Robert Staughton Lynd papers, 1933-1945, [Bulk Dates: 1933-1935]. Columbia University. Rare Book and Manuscript Library,
referencedIn Henry Spira: National Maritime Union Rank and File Activism Collection, 1960s-1970s, undated Tamiment Library / Wagner Archives
referencedIn Winstead, Ralph D. (Ralph Dimmit), 1894-1949. Ralph D. Winstead papers, 1922-1949. Cornell University Library
referencedIn Congress of Industrial Organizations (U.S.) Maritime Committee. Congress of Industrial Organizations. Maritime Committee. Conference Proceedings, 1947. Cornell University Library
referencedIn Clyde W. Deal papers, 1934-1978 University of Washington Libraries Special Collections
creatorOf Kent, Rockwell, 1882-1971. Rockwell Kent papers, [circa 1840]-1993, bulk 1935-1961. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn De Leon, Solon, 1883-. Papers, 1900-1975. Churchill County Museum
referencedIn Jake Green National Maritime Union Photographs, 1943-1947 Tamiment Library / Wagner Archives
referencedIn Left Labor Caucuses Collection, 1966-1995 Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive
referencedIn Tamiment Library Manuscript Files, Bulk, 1910-1965, 1749-1988 Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive
referencedIn Hill, James C., 1914-. James C. Hill series 2. Arbitration files, 1958-1976. Cornell University Library
referencedIn Summers, Clyde W. Summers, Clyde. Office files, 1940-2004. Cornell University Library
referencedIn Papers, 1940-1954 Harvard Law School Library, Harvard University.
referencedIn Congress of Industrial Organizations. Maritime Committee. Conference Proceedings, May 1947. Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives, Martin P. Catherwood Library, Cornell University.
referencedIn Jones, James Moore, 1904-1994. An activist looks back, 1927-1970. Dartmouth College Library
referencedIn Jenkins, David, 1914-1993. The union movement, the California Labor School, and San Francisco politics, 1926-1988 : oral history transcript / David Jenkins ; with introductions by Robert Schrank and Joseph L. Alioto ; interviews conducted by Lisa Rubens in 1987 and 1988. Regional Oral History Office, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, 1993. UC Berkeley Libraries
referencedIn Curran, Joseph, 1906-1981. Reminiscences of Joseph Curran : oral history, 1964. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
creatorOf National Maritime Union of America. Records relating to the expulsion of Gulf District officials, 1939. New Orleans Public Library
referencedIn Stanley Postek Papers, 1933-1986 Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive
referencedIn Al Lannon FBI Files, 1930s-1960s Tamiment Library / Wagner Archives
creatorOf National Maritime Union of America. Photograph collection, [ca. 1940-1960]. Churchill County Museum
referencedIn Randall Smith: Maritime Radicalism Collection, 1940s-1980s, undated Tamiment Library / Wagner Archives
referencedIn Rockwell Kent papers, circa 1840-1993, bulk 1935-1961 Archives of American Art
referencedIn National Maritime Union. William Standard. General counsel's files, 1937-1949. Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives, Cornell University Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Bernhardt, Debra E. person
associatedWith Bridges, Harry, 1901-1990. person
associatedWith Browder, Earl, 1891-1973 person
associatedWith Congress of Industrial Organizations (U.S.) Maritime Committee. corporateBody
associatedWith Copelof, Maxwell. person
associatedWith Curran, Joseph person
associatedWith Curran, Joseph, 1906-1981. person
associatedWith Deal, Clyde W. person
associatedWith Deane, Ernie. person
associatedWith De Leon, Solon, 1883- person
associatedWith Ernst, Haas person
associatedWith Green, Jake. person
associatedWith Haas, Ernst, 1921-1986. person
associatedWith Harrison, Charles Yale, 1898-1954. person
associatedWith Harvard University. Littauer Library. corporateBody
associatedWith Hill, James C., 1914- person
associatedWith Huberman, Leo, 1903-1968 person
associatedWith International Longshoremen's and Warehousemen's Union. corporateBody
associatedWith Jenkins, David, 1914-1993. person
associatedWith Jones, James Moore, 1904-1994. person
associatedWith Kent, Rockwell, 1882-1971. person
associatedWith La Guardia, Fiorello H. 1882-1947 person
associatedWith Leigh, William D., 1925- person
associatedWith Lynd, Robert Staughton, 1892-1970. person
associatedWith Marine Workers Historical Association (U.S.). corporateBody
associatedWith Marshall Plan. corporateBody
associatedWith Mers, Gilbert, 1908- person
associatedWith Murray, Philip, 1886-1952. person
associatedWith Nelson, Bruce, 1940- person
associatedWith Nuchow, William, 1928-1993. person
associatedWith Pieper, Fred C. person
associatedWith Postek, Stanley, 1912-1991. person
associatedWith Prometheus Research Library. corporateBody
associatedWith Rabinowitz, Victor. person
associatedWith Reed, Clarence, 1909- person
associatedWith Reference Center for Marxist Studies. corporateBody
associatedWith Reynolds, Bertha Capen, 1885- person
associatedWith Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives. corporateBody
associatedWith Seafarers International Union of North America. corporateBody
associatedWith Smith, Ferdinand person
associatedWith Smith, Randall, 1917-1989 person
associatedWith Spira, Henry, 1927- person
associatedWith Standard, William L. person
associatedWith Standard, William L. person
associatedWith Stone, M. Hedley, 1897-1970. person
associatedWith Summers, Clyde W. person
associatedWith Tamiment Library. corporateBody
associatedWith United States. Economic Cooperation Administration. corporateBody
associatedWith United States. Federal Bureau of Investigation. corporateBody
associatedWith United States. National War Labor Board (1942-1945) corporateBody
associatedWith Winstead, Ralph D. (Ralph Dimmit), 1894-1949. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
United States
United States
France
Subject
Merchant mariners--Labor unions
Labor union meetings
Congresses and conventions--Pictorial works
Politicians--Portraits
Merchant mariners--Labor unions--United States
Labor unions--Officials and employees
Strikes and lockouts--Merchant mariners
Labor leaders--Portraits
Merchant mariners--Portraits
Occupation
Function

Corporate Body

Active 1940

Active 1960

Information

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