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International Longshoremen's and Warehousemen's Union (ILWU), Local 13 Records, Part I
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  • Scope and Contents
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  • Contributing Institution: Special Collections & Archives
    Title: International Longshoremen's and Warehousemen's Union (ILWU), Local 13 Records, Part I
    Creator: International Longshoremen's and Warehousemen's Union, Local 13 (Wilmington, Los Angeles, Calif.)
    Identifier/Call Number: URB.ILWU-I
    Extent: 28.52 linear feet
    Date (inclusive): 1933-1989
    Abstract: The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) is a labor union which primarily represents dock workers on the West Coast of the United States, and was established in 1937. The Los Angeles Chapter, Local 13, was established shortly thereafter. The collection documents the establishment, development, goals, and achievements of unionism on the Pacific Coast, including labor/management relations, labor conditions on the waterfront, the sudden effects of mechanization on the longshore labor force, and the day-to-day administration of this longshore union.
    Language of Material: English

    Historical Note:

    In 1892, members of the longshore union met in Detroit, Michigan to christen their organization as the National Longshoremen's Association of the United States. The new union quickly became an official arm of the trade unionist movement by joining with the American Federation of Labor (AFL). With successful expansion into ports on the east and west coasts, including several Canadian ports by 1895, the union changed its name to the International Longshoremen's Association (ILA).
    By the end of 1933, West Coast longshoremen voted to suspend local ILA president Lee Holman rather than accept a conservative contract largely supported by the East Coast membership. This was a major setback for ILA president Joe Ryan. Thus, the 1934 West Coast Longshore Strike began.
    Union solidarity and commitment to coast-wide bargaining gained during the early days of the 1934 West Coast Strike and the support shown through the San Francisco General Strike gave longshoremen the confidence they needed to turn down the settlement agreed to by Joe Ryan, President of the ILA, and continue the strike. Except for San Pedro longshoremen, whose conservative leadership convinced its membership to abide by the agreement, the rest of the West Coast locals voted in favor of continuing their violent struggle for recognition and a coast wide agreement more favorable to dockworkers.
    The 1934, West Coast Strike was the first truly successful attempt by the ILA to gain control of the waterfront. It was also the beginning of the end for the conservative faction within the International to maintain control of the West Coast longshoremen. On October 12, 1934 a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) arbitration ruling awarded the longshoremen increases in base rates of pay, provisions for penalty cargo rates, the establishment of the thirty-hour work week, and, most important, joint operation of the hiring hall whereby dispatchers would be selected by the ILA.
    In the coming years, numerous setbacks coupled with the lack of International support for the 1936 West Coast 98-day maritime strike led many of the West Coast locals to form an independent "Waterfront Federation." The final break from the ILA came in May during the 1937 Annual Convention of the ILA's Pacific Coast District, when three resolutions were passed by the membership to leave the AFL to join the newly established Committee of Industrial Organizations (later known as the CIO).
    In August 1937, the CIO issued a new charter to the "International Longshoremen's and Warehousemen's Union" (ILWU). Then, in June 1938, the National Labor Relations Board voted in favor of the ILWU as the recognized bargaining agent for the entire Pacific Coast. The ILWU has remained separate from the ILA since these early jurisdictional, political and organizational disputes. In 1950, the ILWU would again face political turmoil with a growing conservatism within the CIO. The longshoremen of the West Coast, along with ten other "left-wing" unions were expelled from the CIO during the early years of the Cold War. The fact that the ILWU was the only union to survive this drastic measure by the national organization attests to the solidarity of its leadership and membership and their continued commitment to union activism.

    Scope and Contents

    The International Longshoremen's and Warehousemen's Union (ILWU), Local 13 Records, Part I, documents the establishment, development, goals, and achievements of unionism on the Pacific Coast through agreements, arbitration awards, bulletins, convention proceedings, committee records, contracts, correspondence, legal documents, and audio-tapes. The records describe labor/management relations, labor conditions on the waterfront, the sudden effects of mechanization on the longshore labor force, and the day-to-day administration of this longshore union. The collection is organized in three parts, of which this is Part I. Part I has been divided into five major series: Executive Board and Regular Meetings, Local 13 (1933-1972), Committee and Council Records (1934-1971), Arbitration Awards (1934-1959), Longshore, Ship Clerks, and Walking Bosses Caucus (1959-1965), and Subject Files (1942-1956).
    Series I, Executive Board and Regular Meetings, Local 13 , consists predominately of minutes for meetings of the Executive Board and Regular Meetings of the membership at Local 13 Union Hall in Wilmington. Records dating from the formation of the local were transcribed from the original journals in 1954. Of particular note are the extensive minute files and audio-recordings of the Executive Board, Regular meetings of ILWU, Local 13 and Stop Work meetings resulting from worker complaints. The proceedings of the ILWU Longshore, Ship Clerks & Walking Bosses Caucus are also well documented through convention minutes and the working papers of former Vice-President Lou Loveridge. The 1971/1972 Longshore Strike is well-documented through the files of the Picket Committee, the Strike Committee and the ILWU Strike Bulletin . The original handwritten minutes books of Local 13's secretary and cover Executive Board Meetings (1935-1967), Regular Meetings (1933-1966), Membership Committee Meetings (1936-1955) and Registration Advisory Committee Meetings (1955-1965). The files alternate between Board and Regular meetings, and are arranged chronologically.
    Series II, Committee and Council Records, contains minutes and working papers documenting the activities and responsibilities of the many committees and councils within the administrative structure of Local 13 and the Pacific Coast longshore union. The files depict the internal management of the local's activities, membership and relations with business associates. Committee assignments of particular interest include: Grievance Committee (1937-1969), Labor Relations Committee (1934-1971), Membership Committee (1935-1955) and Steward's Council (1952-1964). The files are arranged in alphabetical order by name of committee and chronological within each division.
    Series III, Arbitration Awards , consists of an extensive collection of individual cases brought before the local or coastal arbitrator describe in detail the various complaints, conflicts and labor issues that occurred between union and employer. Yearly samples of employer complaints, conditional penalty reports, jurisdictional dispute reports, union and warehouse complaints and visitor registration sheets were taken to reduce the bulk of these documents within the collection. Most of the complaints by management were resolved in-house through the Grievance Committee, or, in severe cases, through the Trial Committee. Other complaints were settled by the Joint Labor Relations Committee, while a smaller number reached arbitration at the Area or National Labor Relations Board levels. The rulings of the area arbitrator document those issues which could not be settled by negotiations between the union and management. The series is divided into four subseries: Chronological Notebooks (1934-1940, 1946-1984), contains awards filed chronologically into notebooks. Each notebook begins with a comprehensive index. Awards Notebook (1946-1948), contains one notebook (labeled Book No. 7) of awards effecting longshoremen coast wide and other ILWU locals. Documents are arranged by local number. Pacific Coast Agreement Awards (1935-1959), contains awards that pertain specifically to the Pacific Coast Agreement. The files are arranged section by section of the agreement, Section I-XI, each with its own index of cases; and Arbitration Awards (1935-1959), contains a small number of arbitration awards filed by subject for the period 1935-1959. The documents are arranged alphabetically.
    Series IV, Longshore, Ship Clerks, and Walking Bosses Caucus , contains the bi-annual proceedings of the ILWU Longshore, Ship Clerks & Walking Bosses Caucus. The proceedings include agreements, committee reports, negotiation plans and reports, resolutions, statements and remarks of major speakers to the conference. There are some gaps in the proceedings, especially for the period 1964-1965. The proceedings are arranged in semi-bound and bound volumes chronologically.
    Series V, Subject Files, contains agreements, the newsletter Facts for June 1948, Pacific Maritime Board rulings, and longshore case exhibits that document historical events in the ILWU's past. Of particular significance are the various agreements signed between the ILWU and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) covering job assignments, health plans, pension agreements and related work issues. Also of interest are the ILWU exhibit files which document longshore agreements and work during World War II. The exhibits were presented to the War Labor Board during hearings conducted in the 1940s. The files for this subject series are arranged alphabetically.

    Arrangement of Materials:

    Series I: Executive Board and Regular Meetings, Local 13, 1933-1972
    Series II: Committee and Council Records, 1934-1971
    Series III: Arbitration Awards, 1934-1959
        Subseries A: Chronological Notebooks, 1934-1940, 1946-1948
        Subseries B: Awards Notebook, 1946-1948
        Subseries C: Pacific Coast Agreement Awards, 1935-1959
        Subseries D: Arbitration Awards, 1935-1959
    Series IV: Longshore, Ship Clerks, and Walking Bosses Caucus, 1959-1965
    Series V: Subject Files, 1942-1956

    Related Materials:

    Conditions Governing Access:

    The collection is open for research use.

    Conditions Governing Use:

    Copyright for unpublished materials authored or otherwise produced by the creator(s) of this collection has not been transferred to California State University, Northridge. Copyright status for other materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

    Immediate Source of Acquisition

    International Longshoremen's and Warehousemen's Union Local 13, 10-13/1982.

    Preferred Citation:

    For information about citing items in this collection consult the appropriate style manual, or see the Citing Archival Materials  guide.

    Processing Information:

    Robert G. Marshall, 1985

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Audiovisual materials