Longshoremen return to work, ending major West Coast waterfront strike, on July 31, 1934.

  • By HistoryLink.org Staff
  • Posted 1/01/2003
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 2661

On July 31, 1934, West Coast longshoremen return to work after agreeing to an arbitrated settlement, thus ending one of the most important and bitter labor strikes of the twentieth century. The subsequent settlement results in a victory for the International Longshoremen's Association.

The struggle pitted the International Longshoremen's Association (reorganized as the International Longshoremen's and Warehousemen's Union, ILWU, in 1937) against steamship owners, police, and hostile public officials. It also embroiled ILA leader Harry Bridges (1901-1990) and Teamsters Union head Dave Beck (1894-1993) in a long battle for control of the nation's waterfronts.

Both employers and the ILA tentatively agreed to submit to arbitration by a special panel appointed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882-1945). The settlement, which came in October 1934, awarded the International Longshoremen's Association recognition, wage increases, and union control of the waterfront hiring halls.


Walter Havighurst, Pier 17: A Novel About the 1916 Strike (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1935); Ronald E. Magden, A History of Seattle Waterfront Workers, 1884-1934 (Seattle: International Longshoremen's and Warehousemen's Union Local 19 of Seattle, the Washington Commission for the Humanities, 1991); Ottilie Markholt, Maritime Solidarity: Pacific Coast Unionism, 1929-1938 (Tacoma, WA: Pearce County Central Labor Council, 1998); Emmett R. Murray, The Lexicon of Labor (New York: The New Press, 1998); Encyclopedia of the American Left ed. by Mari Jo Buhle et al. (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1992); Seattle Post-Intelligencer, May 9-July 31, 1934.

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