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Longshoreman's work shirt
Catalog #: 2001.0214.01, Accession #: 2001.0214
Currently on display
From the Smithsonian Collection
Herb Mills wore this shirt during his career as a member of ILWU Local 10, San Francisco. He joined the union in 1963 and retired in 1992 but is still active in union activities.
Physical Description
Artifact. This dark blue, wool work shirt has two button-down breast pockets and button sleeve cuffs. The buttons have anchor emblems. Embroidered across the back of the shirt is the round blue and yellow map logo of the ILWU over which is the inscription: "ILWU / Longshoremen / Local 10 / San Francisco." The shirt measures 51 cm W x 84 cm H (across shoulders).
Date Made:
about 1970
Dates Used:
about 1970 - 2001
San Francisco waterfront
Gift of Herb Mills
Before 1934, union activity in West Coast ports was erratic, although many longshoremen were affiliated with the International Longshoremen's Union (ILA). Then, during a waterfront strike, on July 5, 1934, two longshoremen were killed by San Francisco policemen in an incident immortalized as "Bloody Thursday." A general strike followed and the arbitration board that was called in to mediate eventually established a uniform coastwide contract and other measures favorable to maritime labor. In 1937 the Pacific Coast District of the ILA broke away and joined the Congress of Industrial Organizations, reorganizing itself into the International Longshoremen's and Warehousemen's Union (ILWU). This union still represents all longshoremen on the West Coast and is entirely independent of the East Coast and Gulf Coast longshoremen.

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