The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) has represented western longshore and warehouse workers since 1934. Given the union’s diverse makeup, it is not surprising that it is characterized as one of the most militant and socially active labor organizations. In addition, the union is known for its commitment to democratic governance, particularly as expressed by Harry Bridges, former Union President. This project has examined controversies in the history of the ILWU for evidence of democratic governance by studying union documents and third party records.
The Union Democracy Project has found that the ILWU has historically taken great strides to ensure its democratic tradition by taking progressive business and political stances. The willingness of the ILWU to affiliate with unions domestically and internationally demonstrates a commitment to worldwide labor solidarity. Union rank-and-file efforts have entrenched the same ethic in the character of the ILWU.