The National Union of Marine Cooks and Stewards (NUMCS) records documents union-related activity from the 1930s to the 1950s.
The collection includes correspondence; files related to arbitration; War Labor and National Labor Relations Board cases;
agreements with various companies; NUMCS constitional and biennial convention proceedings; committee minutes from various
ports; NUMCS General Council minutes and reports; files related to the Pacific Coast Section Presidential Board of Inquiry
and United States Maritime Commission hearings; and publications.
The Marine Cooks and Stewards Association of the Pacific Coast, later the National Union of Marine Cooks and Stewards (NUMCS),
was founded in 1901. It represented the service workers in the steward departments of United States vessels that sailed in
the Pacific. The union was originally dedicated to preserving these jobs for white men and excluding Asian and African American
workers. But during and after the Depression-era maritime strikes in 1934 and 1936, communists and young radicals, as well
as Black, Asian American, and gay workers, bridged their differences through collective struggle and transformed it into one
of the most democratic, racially integrated unions in the United States. By the 1950s, the majority of the members and leaders
of the union were people of color. However, anti-communism, homophobia, a federal maritime security program designed to screen
out subversives, and the Taft-Hartley Act took its toll on the union. It was expelled by the Congress of Industrial Organizations
in 1950 for being communist-dominated and soon thereafter was the focus of a power struggle between the Seafarers International
Union (part of American Federation of Labor) and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union.
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