annual CDU statewide meeting was again held
at the historic ILWU hall in West Sacramento. It seems appropriate that
our gathering to discuss the coming year's goals for CDU
be housed by the International Longshore Warehouse Union, a union with
their own rich history of progressive activity.
organized to do a job for working people. We were organized to fight for
unity and understanding. We were organized to try to bring people together
so that they can struggle together, without any distinctions of race,
creed, color or religious or political faith."
Harry Bridges, a founder of the ILWU, and subsequent leader for many years.
Harry Bridges and the longshore workers shut down west coast ports during
an 80 day strike in 1934. Striking against what would now be considered
unimaginable working conditions, the strikers held fast against scabs,
beatings, a complete domination of the media by corporate interests (at
one point the san francisco chronicle reported a 'red' army was just over
the hills ready to swope down upon the bay area), a call to return to
work by their then east coast based (and very conservative) union (ILA)
leaders, even through 'bloody thursday' when strikers were injured and
killed by police and hired goons.
The killings led to a display of union solidarity never seen before or
since, the bay area was silent during a general strike as the members
of over 60 unions ceased working.
The shipping owners were forced to negotiate, the longshore workers won
many of their demands, and corporate/govt interests began a 20 year campaign
(unsuccessful) to deport Harry Bridges, not for any wrong doing, but for
his organizing abilities.
In 1937 the pacific section of the ILA (whose national leaders were then
working against social security, unemployment insurance, and other worker
friendly legislation) led by Harry Bridges overwhelmingly voted to break
away from the ILA and form their own union, the ILWU, which affiliated
with the CIO.
The ILWU has since been at the forefront in their demands for member benefits.
The objectives of the ILWU are:
First, to unite in one organization, regardless
of religion, race, creed, color, sex, political affiliation or nationality,
all workers within the jurisdiction of this International;
Second, to maintain and improve the wages, hours and working conditions
for all of its members without discrimination;
Third, to educate the membership of this organization in the history of
the American labor movement and in present day labor problems and tactics;
Fourth, to secure legislation in the interests of labor and to oppose
(from the constitution of the ILWU)