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Wobblies on the Waterfront

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Wobblies on the Waterfront: Interracial Unionism in Progressive-Era Philadelphia by Peter Cole

The rise and fall of America's first truly interracial labor union

For almost a decade during the 1910s and 1920s, the Philadelphia waterfront was home to the most durable interracial, multiethnic union seen in the United States prior to the CIO era. For much of its time, Local 8 was majority black, always with a cadre of black leaders. The union also claimed immigrants from Eastern Europe, as well as many Irish Americans, who had a notorious reputation for racism. This important study is the first book-length examination of how Local 8, affiliated with the Industrial Workers of the World, accomplished what no other did at the time. Peter Cole outlines the factors that were instrumental in Local 8's success, both ideological (the IWW's commitment to working-class solidarity) and pragmatic (racial divisions helped solidify employer dominance). He also shows how race was central not only to the rise but also to the decline of Local 8, as increasing racial tensions were manipulated by employers and federal agents bent on the union's destruction.

 

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Wobblies on the Waterfront: Interracial Unionism in Progressive-Era Philadelphia by Peter Cole

The rise and fall of America's first truly interracial labor union

For almost a decade during the 1910s and 1920s, the Philadelphia waterfront was home to the most durable interracial, multiethnic union seen in the United States prior to the CIO era. For much of its time, Local 8 was majority black, always with a cadre of black leaders. The union also claimed immigrants from Eastern Europe, as well as many Irish Americans, who had a notorious reputation for racism. This important study is the first book-length examination of how Local 8, affiliated with the Industrial Workers of the World, accomplished what no other did at the time. Peter Cole outlines the factors that were instrumental in Local 8's success, both ideological (the IWW's commitment to working-class solidarity) and pragmatic (racial divisions helped solidify employer dominance). He also shows how race was central not only to the rise but also to the decline of Local 8, as increasing racial tensions were manipulated by employers and federal agents bent on the union's destruction.

 

Additional Information

Author Peter Cole
Publisher University of Illinois Press
Format Paperback
Pages 256
ISBN-10 0252031865
ISBN-13 9780252031861

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