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During the 1910s and 1920s, the Philadelphia waterfront was home to the most durable interracial, multiethnic union seen in the United States prior to the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) era. For much of its time, Local 8's majority was African American and included immigrants from Eastern Europe as well as many Irish Americans. In this important study, Peter Cole examines how Local 8, affiliated with the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), accomplished what no other did at the time. He also shows how race was central not only to the rise but also to the decline of Local 8, as increasing racial tensions were manipulated by employers and federal agents bent on the union's destruction.
About the Author
Peter Cole is a professor of history at Western Illinois University.
"Cole skillfully integrates material from IWW leaders, government documents, newspaper accounts, and oral histories with secondary literature to produce a superb case study, one that should appeal to anyone interested in the IWW, the intersection of work and race, waterfront work, or race relations in the United States during the World War I period."--H-Urban
"One of the best and most important histories of the Industrial Workers of the World."--American Historical Review
"Cole's richly detailed book provides a glimpse at a topic too often ignored, the local IWW. . . . Wobblies on the Waterfront deserves to be read seriously by labor historians and historians interested in race and social justice movements. . . . This remarkable book provides a sense of what the Wobblies might have become if given a chance."--Journal of American History
"An invaluable resource to those interested broadly in the historiography of race and industrial unionism and more specifically in Local 8 itself. . . . A worthwhile contribution to the literature and an inspiration to those of us who hold out hope for a unified labor movement."--Labor History