Friday, July 10, 2009
The San Francisco general strike and West Coast maritime strike in 1934 was one of the most important and successful strikes in the history of the United States. This strike along with the Minneapolis Teamsters strike and Toledo strike were high points for the American labor movement. In the San Francisco general strike, Bloody Thursday was on July 5, 1934 when strikers Nick Bordoise and Howard Sperry were killed and 109 people were wounded as a result of the police attack on strikers and their supporters. Despite the calling of the National Guard and the violent attack on unions and workers in San Francisco this strike was won.
These powerful militant worker strikes also set the stage for millions of US workers to join unions and eventually break the back of the employers union busting efforts to destroy the labor movement.
The backbone of the San Francisco longshore strike was a militant new democratic union that elected all of its leaders including the strike chair Harry Bridges. It was formed in struggle against corrupt unionism and it showed that workers had the ability to organize, educate and train their members to defend their unions and all working people. The slogan an injury to one is an injury to all was and is still the motto of the ILWU. Today with millions of workers losing their jobs, their homes and their healthcare the issues that brought that strike are again extremely relevant. Tens of thousands of workers have been fired in the United States simply for trying to organize a union.