In what has become somewhat of a tradition at IBEW Local 1245, actor Ian Ruskin, creator of the Harry Bridges Project, returned to the IBEW 1245 Advisory Council to present his dramatic re-telling of the life and legacy of International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) founder Harry Bridges.
“Harry Bridges was a radical and militant union leader — probably the most militant we’ve seen on West Coast, excluding the Wobblies of the early 20th century. He’s one of the most powerful and inspirational figures in labor history,” IBEW 1245 Business Manager Tom Dalzell said as he introduced Ruskin to the Advisory Council. “Right now, as we’re facing serious to existential challenges in every corner of our union, I find it instructive to look back at Bridges, the best there was, and think, what would he do if he were still here with us now?”
Channeling the spirit of Bridges, Ruskin recounted the labor leader’s early years, and the unfair working conditions that Bridges and his fellow dock workers faced back before they had a union. He then recounted his early organizing work and the bloody strikes that ultimately gave birth to the ILWU, and went on to detail the massive, government-led opposition that the radical Bridges encountered, as well as the unified labor-backed front he organized to combat it. He concluded with a glimpse at the unique way that Bridges responded to the mechanization and modernization of the longshore industry.
The video below provides a brief introduction to Ruskin’s stirring performance piece.
Video provided courtesy of the Harry Bridges Project. Learn more at www.theharrybridgesproject.org.