Philadelphia's lords of the docks: interracial unionism wobbly style - Peter Cole

IWW fist
IWW fist

A short paper written by Peter Cole for the Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era (July 2007)

Submitted by Dan Radnika on February 27, 2013

"In the early twentieth century, several thousand Philadelphia longshoremen organized them selves into a powerful, durable, and effective labor union. These men, who proudly belonged to the Industrial Workers of the World, proved willing and able to employ the Wobblies' direct action tactics to improve their lives. Perhaps even more impressive is that Local 8 was one of the most, perhaps the most, racially inclusive union of its era. Few institutions of any sort at that time in America could claim to be more committed to interracial, multiethnic unionism than Local 8. For ideological and pragmatic reasons, Local 8 stood for racial and ethnic integration on the waterfront. Uniting a diverse workforce was essential to the union's success. Indeed, the union collapsed when Local 8 was split along racial lines. This article looks at the rise and fall of the Progressive Era's most integrated union."

In many ways this paper is just a summary of the contents of his book Wobblies on the waterfront - interracial unionism in progressive-era Philadelphia, which was published in the same year.

If you don't have time to read the book, this paper at least gives you a very good idea of the issues it deals with.