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Harry Bridges leading longshoremen in a Labor Day parade, San Francisco, 1939

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Harry Bridges leading longshoremen in a Labor Day parade, San Francisco, 1939
ILWU Archives, Anne Rand Research Library, International Longshore and Warehouse Union, San Francisco

IN CONTEXT

This object appears in the following sections:


Transforming the Waterfront: San Francisco and Oakland, California, 1960–1970
Transforming the Waterfront: San Francisco and Oakland, California, 1960–1970 — Negotiating Change

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Harry Bridges in the union hall


Longshoreman's cap


Harry Bridges as a young man aboard ship


Longshoremen's Time Book


Harry Bridges in a Labor Day parade
Currently on display
Not a part of the official Smithsonian Collection
Photograph shows Harry Bridges leading the ILWU longshoremen up Market Street during the Labor Day parade in San Francisco in 1939, two years after the ILWU was formed and he became its first President. The scene shows Bridges and the rank-and-file members wearing the traditional clothing of West Coast maritime labor: long-sleeved, blue-and-white-striped ("hickory") shirts, dark trousers, and white caps ("West Coast stetsons").
Physical Description
Photograph
Details
Date Made:
1939
Dates Used:
1939 - 1939
Locations:
California
Note:
San Francisco
History
Born in Australia in 1901, Harry Bridges came to the United States as a young sailor and settled in San Francisco in 1920. He found work as a longshoreman but was appalled at the working conditions: the "shape-up" system for hiring was inherently corrupt; the hours were long and unregulated; and safety measures were largely absent. By the time of the 1934 waterfront strike, Bridges' role as a leader among longshoremen and seamen was well established. In the settlement following the strike, longshoremen were granted a coastwide contract, improved wages and working conditions, and the hiring hall, where a union-elected dispatcher distributed job assignments to union members on a strict rotating basis. Bridges formed the International Longshoremen's and Warehousemen's Union (ILWU) in 1937, by breaking away from the International Longshoremen's Assocation (ILA) and joining the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO). As founding President, he created a union whose members became the best-paid longshoremen in the world. Bridges retired from the ILWU in 1977 and died in San Francisco in 1990.

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