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The articles excerpted on this site report on the state of the industry as seen by mainstream media, and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the officers of the ILWU Coast Longshore Division.

A labor of love

Historic Longshore photo

Longshoremen used a rope sling to haul cargo from ships before the docks used mechanized cranes in the 1940’s. Photo courtesy of ILWU Local 23 and Dr. Ron Magden.

In anticipation of Local 23’s celebration next week of 125 years of unionism on the Tacoma waterfront, the Tacoma Weekly published an article from which the following quotes are excerpted:

“The union means everything to me,” Phil McAllister said. “I wouldn’t have anything. Now, I have the good life and I owe it all to the ILWU.”

More than 5,000 Tacomans have been members of the union since its inception in 1885, said ILWU Local 23 historian Ron Magden. Today, many members live in neighboring cities, including Fife, Puyallup and Federal Way.

“It is a big family,” Magden said. “The anniversary symbolizes survival.”

“It’s cool because we get to pick our dispatchers and they are always longshoremen,” ILWU Vice President Holly Hulscher said. “Being in a union means having respect and dignity on the job, being represented, and being treated fairly.”

“One-on-one we will never get anywhere,” ILWU Local 23 President Scott Mason said. “But as a group, a unified voice, we can put certain economic pressure on them.”

Mason insists workers want to see their employers be successful.

“We want them to take us along with them,” he said. “(Unions) are the fabric that keeps us balanced in getting our share of the pie.”

“The first 125 years are always the hardest,” Magden said.

See the full article in the Tacoma Weekly

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