Philadelphia’s Waterfront Wobblies

ourbigunion.jpgOn April 17, after visiting the Temple Book Club to discuss his new book Wobblies on the Waterfront: Interracial Unionism in Progressive Era Philadelphia (University of Illinois Press, 2007), author Peter Cole was interviewed by librarian Fred Rowland. In the interview, he provides a fascinating look at Progressive Era Philadelphia, an industrial dynamo of American capitalism whose busy port along the Delaware River gave rise to a successful interracial multiethnic union (IWW Local 8) that was able to overcome employer resistance to control work on the docks from about 1913 to the early 1920’s. While discussing Local 8 and its unique success in bringing together white Protestant, black, and immigrant Catholic and Jewish longshoremen, he talks about the radical Industrial Workers of the World (IWW)and their relationship to the rest of American labor, the nature of work on the docks, local labor and race relations, the effects of World War I and Bolshevik Revolution on the port of Philadelphia and the IWW, as well as lessons to be learned from Local 8’s rise and fall.  If you’re interested in Philadelphia history, you’ll like this interview.

 (MP3, 20 minutes)

iTunes U link (for downloads)

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For a brief overview of the Industrial Workers of the World, go here (Temple-only).

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