Illustrator Bits Hayden captured the dissemination of the Waterfront Worker in this illustration from The Big Strike by journalist Mike Quin.
The Waterfront Worker, 1932-1936
The Waterfront Worker was a newsletter published by an anonymous group of rank and file longshoremen, closely associated with Harry Bridges and what became known as the Albion Hall Group, which galvanized support for the new militant unionism on the waterfront. Distributed by hand to workers on the docks and hidden on ships to reach people throughout West Coast ports, the paper served a vital role in organizing longshoremen throughout the Pacific Coast in the months before the 1934 strike. During the strike, it helped strike organizers disseminate information on strike issues and key events, helping inform workers on unionization efforts. With its frank language and simple line drawings, the paper looked inelegant, but its message was clear: the time was rife for organizing for real union representation on the waterfront.
The ILWU Library holds one of the only sets of this rare publication. Through a cooperative effort between the ILWU and the Harry Bridges Center for Labor Studies at the University of Washington, the full collection of The Waterfront Worker was digitized in 2008. It is also available online, along with other 1934 strike related material, at the Waterfront Workers History Project at the University of Washington.