IWW Local 8 poster

IWW Local 8 poster

by Marc Nelson and Just Seeds

In 1913 thousands of Philadelphia longshoremen formed the nation's most progressive union. Local 8 welcomed African Americans, Irish Americans, Poles, Lithuanians, West Indians, and others. The dockers proudly belonged to the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), which is that rare institution that both advocates and practices equality. Alas, such radicalism got Local 8 into trouble with employers and the government, which arrested its leaders, fomented racial tensions and locked out the unionists. The legacy of Local 8, nevertheless, lives on.

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