Break bulk operations, circa 1958.

During the 1950s, there was an explosion of technological change on the waterfront, with the introduction of major labor-saving devices. This represented a major challenge to ILWU President Harry Bridges and the leadership of the International Longshoremen's and Warehousemen's Union. They responded by negotiating an innovative Modernization and Mechanization (M & M) agreement in 1960, in which, in return for allowing the employers to institute efficient innovations, they were able to obtain unprecedented improvements in the contract, including guaranteed employment for the then-current work force and dramatic increases in wages and benefits so that the workers would share in the industry's increased profitability. Remarkably, the labor needs on the west coast waterfront have remained fairly stable, and the improved mechanization has made the work less hazardous and arduous.

© Copyright Labor Arts Inc.