Break bulk operations, circa 1958.

Photograph by Otto Hagel.

During the 1950s, there was an explosion of technological change on the waterfront, with the introduction of major labor-saving devices. This represented a considerable 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 return for allowing employers to institute efficient innovations which would decrease the number of jobs, the union obtained unprecedented improvements in the contract, including guaranteed employment for the then-current work force and dramatic increases in wages and benefits as the workers shared in the industry's increased profitability.

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