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8 The Big Strike

1. Silas B. Axtell, comp., A Symposium on Andrew Furuseth (New Bedford, Mass.: Darwin Press, 1948), p. 81. [BACK]

2. The term was popularized by Mike Quin in The Big Strike (Olema, Calif.: Olema Publishing Co., 1949). On the extraordinary eruptions of 1934, see Irving Bernstein, The Turbulent Years: A History of the American Worker, 1933-1941 (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1970), pp. 217-317. For narratives of the 1934 maritime and general strike, see Bernstein, Turbulent Years , pp. 252-98; Charles P. Larrowe, "The Great Maritime Strike of '34," Pt. 1, Labor History 11 (Fall 1970): 403-51, and Pt. 2, Labor History 12 (Winter 1971): 3-37, hereafter cited as Larrowe-1 and Larrowe-2; and Quin, The Big Strike . [BACK]

3. Quin, The Big Strike , pp. 104-5, San Francisco Chronicle , July 6, 1934, p. 1. [BACK]

4. San Francisco Chronicle , May 12, 1934, p. 2; May 18, 1934, p. 17; Los Angeles Times , May 13, 1934, p. 6; Ronald Magden and A. D. Martinson, The Working Waterfront: The Story of Tacoma's Ships and Men (Tacoma, Wash.: International Longshoremen's and Warehousemen's Union, Local 23, 1982), p. 110; Michael Egan, "'That's Why Organizing Was So Good': Portland Longshoremen, 1934: An Oral History" (senior thesis, Reed College, 1975), p. 51; Roger D. Lapham, "Pacific Maritime Labor Conditions as They Affect the Nation" (address to the Chamber of Commerce of the United States, Washington, D.C., Apr. 30, 1936), in Roger Lapham, "An Interview on Shipping, Labor, San Francisco City Government, and American Foreign Aid," conducted by Corinne L. Gilb, San Francisco, January-August 1956 (transcript in the Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley), p. 412. Egan's Reed thesis includes an interview with Harry Pilcher, an Everett longshoreman and Communist party member, who participated in the events on the Seattle waterfront. Pilcher recalled (p. 51): "By Friday [the third day of the strike] they had scabs on every dock in Seattle. Us fellows from Everett and Tacoma got together and we rounded up all of the militant men we could find in Seattle. And Saturday morning we hit the docks in force. . . . I'd say at least a thousand unemployed came down and backed us up. . . . we got through that Saturday and there wasn't any scabs left on the Seattle waterfront." [BACK]

5. Donald Mackenzie Brown, "Dividends and Stevedores," Scribner's 97 (Jan. 1935): 54-55; Henry Schmidt, Secondary Leadership in the ILWU, 1933-1966 (oral history project conducted by Miriam E Stein and Estolv Ethan Ward, 1974-81, Berkeley Regional History Office, Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley), p. 99. [BACK]

6. Jerold S. Auerbach, Labor and Liberty: The La Follette Committee and the New Deal (New York: Bobbs-Merrill, 1966), pp. 177-78; Ivan F. Cox to Robert F. Wagner, Feb. 5, 1934, carton 11, San Francisco Labor Council, AFL-CIO, Correspondence and Papers, 1906-65, Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, hereafter cited as SFLC papers; Louis B. Perry and Richard S. Perry, A History of the Los Angeles Labor Movement, 1911-1941 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1963), pp. 366-67; U.S., Congress, Senate, Subcommittee of the Committee on Education and Labor, Report, Violations of Free Speech and Rights of Labor , Report no. 1150, 77th Cong., 2d sess. (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1942), pt. 2, pp. 131, 134-35; hereafter cited as La Follette Committee, Report . [BACK]

7. Los Angeles Daily News quoted in Larrowe-1, p. 410; Lew Levenson, "California Casualty List," Nation , Aug. 29, 1934, pp. 243-45; [American League Against War and Fascism (Los Angeles Committee)] California's Brown Book (Los Angeles: American League Against War and Fascism, 1934), pp. 4-5. [BACK]

8. Los Angeles Times , May 16, 1934, sec. 2, pp. 1, 10. [BACK]

9. Voice of the Federation , June 28, 1935, p. 4; interviews with Bob McElroy, May 31, 1979, and Feb. 3, 1981. [BACK]

10. Perry and Perry, History of the Los Angeles Labor Movement , p. 367; Foc'sle Head , July 2, 1934, p. 2; Voice of the Federation , June 14, 1935, p. 2. [BACK]

11. Schmidt quoted in Voice of the Federation , June 21, 1935, p. 4; San Francisco Chronicle , July 10, 1934, p. 1; Frederic Chiles, "General Strike: San Francisco, 1934—An Historical Compilation Film Storyboard," Labor History 22 (Summer 1981): 457; Quin, The Big Strike , p. 129; anonymous recollection in Case Files, Coast 1934, 1934 Strike Personal Interviews, ILWU Archives, Anne Rand Research Library, San Francisco; interview with Roy Hudson, Oct. 29, 1981; Paul Eliel, The Waterfront and General Strikes, San Francisco, 1934: A Brief History (San Francisco: Hooper Printing Co., 1934), p. 128. [BACK]

12. [George Larsen] to P. B. Gill, Apr. 26, 1934, Seattle correspondence, 1934, SUP Central Archive, Sailors' Union of the Pacific Headquarters, San Francisco. [BACK]

13. Francis, "History of Labor on the San Francisco Waterfront," pp. 12, 182-83; ILA Local 38-79, executive board minutes, Oct. 9, 1933, ILWU Archives; Sam Darcy, "The Great West Coast Maritime Strike," Communist 13 (July 1934): 671-72. [BACK]

14. Charles P. Larrowe, Harry Bridges: The Rise and Fall of Radical Labor in the United States (New York: Lawrence Hill, 1972), p. 38; Theodore Durein, "Scabs' Paradise," Reader's Digest 30 (Jan. 1937): 21; Herbert R. Northrup, Organized Labor and the Negro (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1944), pp. 152-53; San Francisco Chronicle , May 10, 1934, p. 4; May 13, 1934, p. 3; May 16, 1934, p. 3. [BACK]

15. Schmidt, Secondary Leadership in the ILWU , p. 228. In an interview with the author on Oct. 14, 1981, Schmidt recalled, "All of a sudden, fourteen or fifteen black [longshore]men walked into the office and said, 'Well, we're here. Do you want us?'" [BACK]

16. Walter Macarthur to Mr. Michelson, Jan. 31, 1936, carton 1, Walter Macarthur, Correspondence and Papers, c. 1905-44, Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, hereafter cited as Macarthur papers; Bridges quoted in Larrowe-1, p. 416; Caves's statement appears in a letter he wrote on Aug. 26, 1938; in "Case of Ferdinand Smith, Vice-President of National Maritime Union of America [Sept. 23, 1938]," p. 17, in ILWU files relating to seamen and maritime unions, carton 12. [BACK]

17. [George Larsen] to P. B. Gill, Apr. 26, 1934; Nov. 17, 1933; Nov. 23, 1933; George Larsen to John A. Feidje, Dec. 12, 1933; to Carl E. Carter, Feb. 17, 1934; Apr. 6, 1934; Apr. 20, 1934; Carl E. Carter to George Larsen, Mar. 29, 1934, SUP Central Archive, Portland correspondence, 1934. [BACK]

18. [George Larsen] to John A. Feidje, Oct. 12, 1933; [George Larsen] to Carl E. Carter, Mar. 1, 1934; Mar. 15, 1934; Apr. 6, 1934, SUP Central Archive, Portland correspondence, 1934. [BACK]

19. "Minutes of Meeting of District Committee[,] International Seamen's Union of America," May 9, 1934, SUP Central Archive, 1934 strike file; [George Larsen] to C. E. Carter, May 11, 1934, SUP Central Archive, Portland correspondence, 1934. [BACK]

20. Waterfront Worker , Oct. 22, 1934, p. 7; May 21, 1934, p. 3; San Francisco Chronicle , May 13, 1934, p. 3; Darcy, "The Great West Coast Maritime Strike," p. 670. [BACK]

21. Interview with Harold Johnson, Aug. 4, 1984. [BACK]

22. SUP, minutes of headquarters meeting, San Francisco, May 15, 1934; [George Larsen] to P. B. Gill, May 24, 1934, SUP Central Archive, Seattle correspondence, 1934. [BACK]

23. On the teamsters, see Robert McClure Robinson, "A History of the Teamsters in the San Francisco Bay Area, 1850-1950" (Ph.D. diss., University of California, Berkeley, 1951), pp. 223-63; Paul Eliel, The Waterfront and General Strikes , p. 50. Eliel stated: "Had it not been for this stand of the Teamsters' Union the strike of longshoremen would undoubtedly have collapsed within a week or ten days at the most." [BACK]

24. Sam Darcy, "The San Francisco Bay Area General Strike," Communist 13 (Oct. 1934): 995; Bulcke quoted in Joseph Blum and Lisa Rubens, "Strike," San Francisco Sunday Examiner and Chronicle, California Living Magazine , July 8, 1984, p. 12; Quin, The Big Strike , p. 148. The San Francisco newspapers generally refrained from offering an exact estimate of the number of participants in the general strike. The number of organized workers on strike in San Francisco appears to have been close to fifty thousand. The press did estimate that between forty-two and forty-seven thousand workers struck in the East Bay. However, these figures almost certainly did not include the apparently significant number of unorganized workers who also walked off the job. Therefore, the Communists' estimate of some hundred and twenty-five thousand participants may well be accurate. See William E Dunne, The Great San Francisco General Strike: The Story of the West Coast Strike The Bay Counties' General Strike and the Maritime Workers' Strike (New York: Workers' Library, 1934), p. 3. [BACK]

25. J. Paul St. Sure, "Some Comments on Employer Organizations and Collective Bargaining in Northern California Since 1934," an interview conducted by Corinne Gilb for the Institute of Industrial Relations Oral History Project, University of California, Berkeley, 1957, pp. 69-70, 72-73. [BACK]

26. George Larsen to Andrew Furuseth, May 18, 1934, SUP Central Archive, 1934 strike file; "Seven Seamen," Fortune 16 (Sept. 1937): 123. [BACK]

27. Waterfront Worker , May 21, 1934, p. 4. [BACK]

28. Frances Perkins to Franklin D. Roosevelt, July 15, 1934, in Franklin D. Roosevelt, Papers as President, Official File, 1935-45, 407-B, box 11, Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, Hyde Park, N.Y., hereafter cited as FDR Official File; Quin, The Big Strike , pp. 98-99; Eliel quoted in Larrowe-1, p. 444. [BACK]

29. Interview with Al Richmond, Sept. 17, 1982; ''The Maritime Unions," Fortune 16 (Sept. 1937): 132; George P. West, "Labor Strategist of the Embarcadero," New York Times Magazine , Oct. 25, 1936, p. 7; Frances Perkins, The Roosevelt I Knew (New York: Viking Press, 1946), p. 316; Richard L. Neuberger, "Bad-Man Bridges," Forum 101 (Apr. 1939): 198-99. [BACK]

30. Charles A. Madison, American Labor Leaders: Personalities and Forces in the Labor Movement , 2d ed. (New York: Frederick Ungar, 1962), p. 409; Estolv E. Ward, Harry Bridges on Trial (New York: Modern Age Books, 1940), p. 105; Voice of the Federation , Apr. 23, 1936, p. 3. [BACK]

31. Interview with John P. Olsen, San Francisco, Oct. 22, 1981; Eliel quoted in Larrowe-2, pp. 17-18; Landis quoted in Ward, Harry Bridges on Trial , p. 230. [BACK]

32. Emory Scott Land, "The Reminiscences of Emory Scott Land," Oral History Collection, Columbia University, 1963, p. 191; Louis Adamic, My America, 1928-1938 (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1938), p. 375; San Francisco Examiner , Aug. 30, 1935, p. 8; West, "Labor Strategist of the Embarcadero," p. 7. [BACK]

33. Waterfront Worker , Feb. 11, 1935, p. 6; Oct. 15, 1934, p. 6. [BACK]

34. John P. Olsen quoted in Chiles, "General Strike: San Francisco, 1934," p. 465. [BACK]

35. Bruce Minton and John Stuart, Men Who Lead Labor (New York: Modern Age Books, 1937), p. 199; Neuberger, "Bad-Man Bridges," p. 199; interview with Sam Darcy, Harvey Cedars, N.J., Dec. 19, 1979; "Herbert Resner: The Recollections of the Attorney for Frank Conner," in The Shipboard Murder Case: Labor Radicalism and Earl Warren, 1936-1941 , ed. Miriam Feingold Stein (interviewer) (Berkeley: Regional Oral History Office, Bancroft Library, University of California, 1976), pp. 13-14; Voice of the Federation , July 19, 1936, p. 4. [BACK]

36. "The Maritime Unions," p. 137; Matthew Josephson, "Red Skies over the Waterfront," Collier's , Oct. 5, 1946, pp. 17, 89-90; Bernstein, Turbulent Years , p. 266; Charles E Larrowe, Shape-Up and Hiring Hall: A Comparison of Hiring Methods and Labor Relations on the New York and Seattle Waterfronts (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1955), pp. 16-17; U.S., Congress, Senate, Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce, Waterfront Investigation: New York-New Jersey , 83d Cong., 1st sess., Report no. 653 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1953), pp. 7-13. [BACK]

37. San Francisco Chronicle , June 17, 1934, pp. 1, 2; June 18, 1934, p. 1. [BACK]

38. Quin, The Big Strike , pp. 84-85; Henry Schmidt interview; San Francisco Chronicle , June 29, 1934, p. 1. [BACK]

39. Quin, The Big Strike , pp. 52-53. [BACK]

40. Eliel quoted in Larrowe-1, pp. 43-44. [BACK]

41. Darcy interview; Joseph R. Starobin, American Communism in Crisis, 1943-1957 (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1972), p. 258; John Brophy, A Miner's Life , ed. John O. P. Hall (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1964), p. 275. Brophy was the CIO's first director and, after John L. Lewis, the person most crucial to the organization during its formative stages. A deeply religious Roman Catholic, Brophy eventually became a staunch anti-Communist. In 1938, however, he stridently attacked those who raised the cry of "Communist" within the CIO, lambasting the "social and intellectual bankruptcy of their methods" and even accusing them of treason. Labor Herald , Aug. 25, 1938, p. 2, in John Brophy, Papers, 1917-63, Department of Archives and Manuscripts, Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C. [BACK]

42. Eliel, The Waterfront and General Strikes , p. 128; Darcy interview. [BACK]

43. Even the San Francisco ILA local passed an anti-Communist resolution, in response to strong pressure from the Labor Council. The resolution declared that any ILA member who refused "to disavow all connections with the Communist element on the waterfront . . . shall be held to trial on charges of insubordination and if found guilty shall be expelled from Local 38-79." Although the resolution was "unanimously concur[r]ed in" at a membership meeting, it seems to have had no effect on the strike committee's close working relationship with the MWIU, the International Labor Defense, and other Communist-led organizations and individuals. Ivan E Cox to John O'Connell, June 26, 1934, in SFLC papers, carton 11. [BACK]

44. Foc'sle Head , June 28, 1934, p. 2. [BACK]

45. Foc'sle Head , May 18, 1934, p. 1; June 22, 1934, pp. 1, 2; July 2, 1934, p. 2; "A Synopsis of the Events Leading up to and Following the Attempt to Suspend W. W. Caves, from the Office of Chairman of the Strike Committee, Sailors' Union of the Pacific," SUP Central Archive, 1934 strike file; interview with Bob McElroy, May 31, 1979. Eventually Caves was removed from the strike committee. The minutes of a special meeting on June 24 recorded the decision "to suspend W. W. Caves from the strike committee, because he has not been around for three days, and because his attitude and general disposition seems to inject a spirit of dissension in the committee." SUP Strike Committee, minutes of special meeting, San Francisco, June 24, 1934, SUP Central Archive, 1934 strike file. [BACK]

46. San Francisco Chronicle , June 21, 1934, p. 4; Foc'sle Head , June 25, 1934, p. 1; Johnson and Merriam quoted in Nation , Aug. 29, 1934, p. 228 (emphasis added). [BACK]

47. Miriam Allen De Ford, "San Francisco: An Autopsy on the General Strike," Nation , Aug. 1, 1934, p. 122; ibid., p. 113; John Terry, "The Terror in San Jose," Nation , Aug. 8, 1934, p. 162. [BACK]

48. San Francisco Chronicle , July 18, 1934, p. 1; San Francisco Examiner , July 18, 1934, p. 1; "Who Owns the San Francisco Police Department?" Nation , Aug. 29, 1934, pp. 228-29; Quin, The Big Strike , pp. 162-63; Lorena Hickok to Aubrey W. Williams, Aug. 15, 1934, in One Third of a Nation: Lorena Hickok Reports on the Great Depression , ed. Richard Lowitt and Maurine Beasley (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1981), p. 305; Robert Cantwell, "War on the West Coast: I. The Gentlemen of San Francisco," New Republic , Aug. 1, 1934, p. 309; Sam Darcy to author, May 12, 1981. There may have been some workers, even a few strikers, involved in the reign of terror. With sorrow and anger, the Waterfront Worker acknowledged the apparent truth of the rumor that "some I.L.A. men were in the posse that helped smash the workers meeting places." Waterfront Worker , Sept. 14, 1934, p. 2; Oct. 1, 1934, p. 7. [BACK]

49. Darcy, "The San Francisco Bay Area General Strike," p. 999. [BACK]

50. San Francisco Chronicle , July 19, 1934, p. 1. Three days earlier the Chronicle (July 16, 1934, p. 2) had reported that Bridges recommended the "immediate establishment of food distribution depots in every section of the city." "If the people can't get food," the paper reported Bridges as saying, "the maritime workers and longshoremen will lose the strike." [BACK]

51. Paul Eliel stated that as the last marchers broke ranks, "a general strike, which up to this time had appeared to many to be a visionary dream of a small group of the most radical workers, became for the first time a practical and realizable objective." Eliel, The Waterfront and General Strikes , p. 128. [BACK]

52. John E Neylan to F. C. Atherton, Aug. 16, 1934, in John Francis Neylan, Correspondence and Papers, c. 1911-60, Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, box 56. On the role of the San Francisco newspapers in the general strike, see Earl Burke, "Dailies Helped Break General Strike," Editor and Publisher , July 28, 1934, p. 5; and Evelyn Seeley, "War on the West Coast: II. Journalist Strikebreakers," New Republic , Aug. 1, 1934, pp. 310-12. [BACK]

53. John A. O'Connell to William Green, July 2, 1934, SFLC papers, carton 31; Frances Perkins to Franklin D. Roosevelt, July 15, 1934, in FDR Official File, 407-B, box 11; Casey quoted in Paul S. Taylor and Norman Leon Gold, "San Francisco and the General Strike," Survey Graphic 23 (Sept. 1934): 409; interview with Sam Kagel, July 18, 1984; "Henry Melnikow, and the National Labor Bureau: An Oral History," interview conducted by Corinne Lathrop Gilb, Institute of Industrial Relations, University of California, Berkeley, 1959, pp. 181-82, 189, 197-98; Carl Lynch to Strike Committees, I.S.U. of A., July 18, 1934, SUP Central Archive, 1934 strike file. [BACK]

54. Quin, The Big Strike , pp. 176-77, 179. [BACK]

55. Paul S. Taylor, "The San Francisco General Strike" (typescript, n.d.), p. 16, in Paul S. Taylor, material relating to agricultural and maritime strikes in California, 1933-42, Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, carton 3; Quin, The Big Strike , p. 180. [BACK]

56. Larrowe, Harry Bridges , p. 87; the phrase "all the muck of ages" is from Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The German Ideology , quoted in Martin Glaberman, Wartime Strikes: The Struggle Against the No-Strike Pledge in the UAW During World War II (Detroit: Bewick Editions, 1980), p. 126. [BACK]

57. John Cooper to George Larsen, July 26, 1934, SUP Central Archive, 1934 strike file. [BACK]

58. "Proceedings, Special Meeting, Sailors' Union of the Pacific, Maritime Hall Building, San Francisco, July 29, 1934," carton 6, p. 1, Paul Scharrenberg, Correspondence and Papers, Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley; hereafter cited as SUE "Proceedings . . . July 29, 1934." [BACK]

59. Ibid., pp. 4-5. [BACK]

60. Ibid., pp. 8, 11-13. [BACK]

61. San Francisco Chronicle , June 30, 1934, p. 2. [BACK]

62. Johnson quoted in ibid., July 18, 1934, pp. 1, 5. [BACK]

63. SUP, "Proceedings . . . July 29, 1934," pp. 14-15; the nicknames ridiculing Furuseth appeared in the Foc'sle Head , June 29, 1934, p. 1; July 12, 1934, p. 2. [BACK]

64. SUP, "Proceedings . . . July 29, 1934," p. 14. [BACK]

65. San Francisco Chronicle , July 31, 1934, p. 7. [BACK]

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