The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), the union which last week took baseball bats to windows and train carts at a new grain terminal at the Port of Longview, Washington, is not a household name for most people who (like me) live outside the West Coast. But as a history student, and a conservative, that name has special meaning – and it is even more ominous then this latest show of thuggish behavior.
Fox News reports that the ILWU goons “overwhelmed guards, smashed windows in the guard shack and dumped grain. Six guards were trapped for a couple of hours, Longview Police Chief Jim Duscha said.” These guards were lucky to have escaped harm, which was not the fate of the union’s opponents in 1934, in what is known as the San Francisco General Strike. Radio talk show host and former Roving Editor for Reader’s Digest, Lowell Ponte, describes what happened when “unemployed Depression workers tried to take the waterfront jobs that union members had walked away from”:
“Harry‘s boys got out their baseball bats to persuade the Scabs that it wasn’t worth the trouble,” boasted one dockworker union propagandist. Some replacement workers died in unusual “accidents,” including two college students. Many others were severely beaten, injured, and crippled. A deputy sheriff in Seattle who tried to arrest violent union thugs was murdered, shot through the head.
Who was “Harry”? On Friday, July 27, 2001, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) half answered that question on the Floor on the House of Representatives:
Ms. PELOSI. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to Harry Bridges, arguably the most significant labor leader of the 20th century. He died on March 30, 1990 at age 88. I am here to celebrate his life and achievements on this day, the 100th anniversary of his birth.
After leaving his native Australia at age fifteen he spent several years as a merchant marine, before he settled in San Francisco in 1920. In those days workers wages were ten dollars a week, with seventy-two hour work shifts. Work was dangerous and injuries were not uncommon. Harry Bridges set out to improve the lives of workers everywhere.
As leader of the International Longshoremen’s and Warehousemen’s Union (ILWU), the most progressive union of the time, Harry Bridges led the struggle for worker’s dignity. He called for the San Francisco General Strike of 1934, which was suppressed with brutality, but Harry Bridges and the ILWU-Ied strike prevailed, and to this day, workers have benefited from safe work conditions, health care benefits, and eight hour work days. Today we can all hold our heads high and be proud of Harry Bridges’ legacy.
Harry Bridges and the longshoremen of the 1930’s will be memorialized on July 28th  when the City of San Francisco dedicates the plaza in front of its historic Ferry building as the Harry Bridges Plaza. He is truly deserving of such a distinguished honor. Harry Bridges is respected by the people of San Francisco, beloved by the workers of this Nation, and recognized as one of the most important labor leaders in the world.
Herbert Romerstein tells the other half of the story
In 1938, the American Communist Party sent a list of names to Moscow of the people that it wished to keep on the Central Committee. They needed Moscow’s permission before they could allow a party member to have that position. One of those accepted by Moscow to remain on the Central Committee of the American Communist Party was identified as “Rossi (Bridges) – CP USA Central Committee member and president of the Longshoremen’s and Warehousemen’s Union”.
Romerstein, by the way, worked as an investigator for the United States government for 25 years, including as an Investigator for the House Committee on Un-American Activities, Minority Chief Investigator for the House Committee on Internal Security, Profession Staff Member for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and head of the Office to Counter Soviet Disinformation for the United States Information Agency. When the Soviet Union collapsed, he and his wife went over to Moscow and, with unrestricted access, spent a month investigating the archives of the Comintern. Important sections of that archive, including the section containing the aforementioned document, had been resealed by the Russian Government in the mid-90s and remain sealed to this day. In addition to Romerstein, two other researchers, John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr, have also seen and reported on the contents of the document.
There are more complete summaries to the story, and they make for a good recap.
In February of last year, after showing a video of Pelosi on the floor of the House of Representatives in 1998 proclaiming that “Under the leadership of Harry Bridges, followed by Jim Herman, the ILW[U] faced head on the great political challenges of our nation”, Glenn Beck turned to his guest, David Horowitz, and asked “Who was Harry Bridges?”
HOROWITZ: Harry Bridges was an Australian labor leader whom the government, during the Cold War, tried to deport for 10 years because they were saying he’s a member of the Communist Party and therefore basically an agent of the Soviet Union.
He denied it all the way.
Then, when the Berlin Wall fell and the Soviet archives were open, it turned out he was on the central committee of the American Communist Party — he was one of the leaders of the Communist Party. And in 1998, everybody knew this. But it’s Pelosi’s hero.
BECK: Why did Sweeney, from AFL-CIO, change and say, Hey, we don’t need to have any of these rules to keep communists out of the labor unions?
This is just a few years ago.
HOROWITZ: Right. The big break — it was a big break in 1948 during — when the progressive party was formed and the Cold War. Walter Reuther, who was a socialist, drove the communists out of the CIO, out of the unions, because they were agents of the Soviet Union, which was a slave empire and our enemy.
HOROWITZ: Sweeney and these guys — like you say, Van Jones doesn’t go away. The communists don’t go away. The progressives stayed and now they just embraced it.
As the American Enterprise Institute’s Joshua Muravchik wrote in the Weekly Standard, the ILWU “became arguably the most powerful union in the Bay Area and a big supporter of leftist causes, including inside the Democratic party. … the ILWU could bring lots of money and resources to bear on behalf of favored candidates. … The influence of Harry Bridges and his ILWU was what pulled the Bay Area Democratic party so far to the left.”
I would say that that could be true for most of the congressional Democrat Party tools of neo-marxist big labor leaders, like the despicable Richard Trumka and Jimmy Hoffa Jr.. Keep in mind who the Democrats choose to be the Speaker of the “People’s House” until less then a year ago.