Up and down the West Coast today, members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) are commemorating the 74th anniversary of “Bloody Thursday.”
On July 5, 1934, San Francisco police, backed up by the National Guard, opened fire on a group of 2,000 dockworkers, sailors and other maritime workers, killing two and wounding scores of others.
The longshore workers had struck San Francisco and other West Coast ports May 9. They demanded recognition of their union and the ouster of a company union—one that controlled who got work, who didn’t, what workers were paid and what meager benefits, if any, they received for their backbreaking and dangerous work in cargo holds and on the docks. Other maritime workers joined them in solidarity.