Founding of the Labor Coalition
(Jim Smith: Newspaper Guild, Local 69)

The Evolution of the Labor Day Parade
(Luisa Gratz: President, ILWU Local 26)

A Global Labor Movement
(Dave Arian: President, Internaitonal Longshore and Warehouse Union (1991-1993)

 

 

Founding of the Labor Coalition
(Jim Smith: Newspaper Guild, Local 69)

According to Jim Smith, formerly with the Newspaper Guild, Local 69, a founding local of the Harbor Labor Coalition, the OCAW (Oil, Chemical, and Atomic Workers) was having a tough time negotiating a new contract, and being on a nationwide strike.

The OCAW union and oil industry has a local harbor presence. In support of the OCAW, a show of unity was needed to promote the union’s interests. The Harbor Labor Coalition held a parade, on Avalon Blvd., in Wilmington on March 1, 1980, in support of OCAW contract negotiations during its ongoing strike.

The Harbor Labor Coalition was originally started in 1979 to address the Inland Boatmen Union jurisdictional dispute with the Seafarers International Union and Crowley Maritime Corporation. Crowley ran a tugboat operation in Florida under an inferior contract to the one used on the West Coast. under the leadership of David O’Day, as coordinator, and Robert Forrester as treasurer, they were able to organize ten unions in support of their dispute.

On that basis, the Harbor Labor Coalition was created, to address concerns locally, by which, through unity, the various disparate Locals could channel their resources in fending off attempts to bring down wages, benefits, ect., as so stated in the bylaws of the Harbor Labor Coalition.

The atmosphere was so charged during this period that TIME magazine ran an article on January 1, 1979 titled “Labor: A Year of Showdowns.”

The Carter Administration was intransigent in its approach to squelch problems within the economy of the late 1970’s. Carter did this through a price-wage combination focusing primarily on forcing down wages.

It infuriated the AFL-CIO’s president, George Meany, creating a war of words across the media, and a stand-off at the bargaining table. The test came with OCAW’s new contract negotiations, and later with the Teamster’s contract, under its then president Frank Fitzsimmons. The Carter Administration was finally able to claim
victory in its confrontation with Labor during the Teamster contract negotiations.