Longshoremen shut down Port of Seattle for eight days beginning on January 5, 1938.

  • By Greg Lange
  • Posted 1/24/1999
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 743

On January 5, 1938, some 1,500 Seattle longshoremen stop work in a dispute over interpretation of a year-old contract with the Waterfront Employers Association. All movement of cargo across the Seattle waterfront ceases, and the Port of Seattle shuts down. Ships are diverted to Tacoma and other ports for unloading. The work stoppage is settled eight days later with the assistance of U.S. Maritime Commission Chairman Joseph P. Kennedy (1888-1969), father of future U.S. President John F. Kennedy (1917-1963). The dispute is submitted for arbitration.

The work stoppage arose when a Canadian shipping line attempted to transfer 75 tons of hides from an ocean going vessel to a coast-wise vessel utilizing non-union labor. Chairman Kennedy was on a planned tour of the West Coast and he extended his stay to participate in the negotiations.


Seattle Post-Intelligencer, January 5-13, 1938.

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