Harry Bridges and Seattle's Local 19-1948 meeting

Bridges visited Local 19 on September 7, 1948 as the maritime strike neared. At the same time that the ILWU and other maritime unions were in a pitched battle with the Waterfront Employer’s Association (WEA), they were facing an increasingly anti-labor environment in the United States. The Taft-Hartley Act, passed in 1947, reversed the progressive New Deal legislation that had contributed to the rapid growth of the Congress of Industrial Organizations in the late 1930s. The law severely limited the ability of unions to strike, which had delayed the 1948 strike for months after negotiations had completely fallen apart, and required that union officials sign affidavits that they were not communists of Communist Party members. The ILWU, led by Bridges, was one of the few unions to defy this requirement. They decided to do so only after a vote of the union’s membership, and the meeting notes reflect that Bridges worked hard to convince the membership through dialogue to vote against complying with the affidavit provision of Taft-Hartley.