|longshoremen's silent protest on market st 1934 SF,Ca|
|Maynard Dixon's "the scab" inspired by the 34 longshoremen strike|
|Anton Refregier's SF mural celebrating the strike|
The other day,i was lucky enough to get my hands on an original 30's San Francisco longshoreman's white cap and "hook" .unfortunately another guy got all the papers, badges and pictures....At least these items were saved and are not going to end up on Ebay.....
In 1934, radical labor leader Harry Bridges defied the establishment when he led a three-month strike to fight for more jobs – including those for African-Americans on the San Francisco waterfront. The strike led to a four day shut down of the entire city.It was the first and so far the only successful general strike in this country’s history.
The San Francisco general strike of 1934 was the culmination of decades of exploitation on the west coast waterfronts. One of the major demands of the workers was for an independent union with their own hiring hall. Prior to 34, dock workers were hired in the "shape up," a corrupted system where potential workers had to pay a bribe to the "gang boss" for a day's work,as depicted in the E Kazan's 1954 classic movie : "On The Waterfront" with Marlon Brando.
The strike began with the longshoremen and maritime workers and soon included the Teamsters Union after the shipping companies employed "scabs" to move the cargo. The violence and deaths of the two strikers at the hands of the police only inflamed the situation. The funeral procession of the fallen men up Market Street on July 9th brought thousands of sympathetic blue collar workers into the strike, peacefully shutting down San Francisco and Alameda counties.
The strike was successful and a new era was born....
Sometimes called the "West Coast Stetson," this type of white cap was worn by West Coast mariners, particularly longshoremen and sailors. Along with "can't bust 'em" black "Frisco" jeans and a hickory stripe shirt, the soft white cap was once a signature part of the usual rig that men wore in part to express their occupational identity,but also out of safety as they could be spotted even in the dark holds of ships by men on deck who were lifting and lowering heavy loads.This changed in the early 1970s when longshoremen were required to wear hardhats when working on the docks or aboard ships.However they still wear the "West Coast Stetson,", at special union meetings and events.