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New York LongshoremenClass and Power on the Docks$
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William J. Mello

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780813034898

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813034898.001.0001

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Who Controls the Waterfront?

Who Controls the Waterfront?

(p.27) 2 Who Controls the Waterfront?
New York Longshoremen

William J. Mello

University Press of Florida

The characteristics that consolidated the waterfront labor process are indicative of the dialectical nature of power and work. Control over the workforce was vital. The longshoremen constituted one of the most controlled sectors of the working class. Fundamentally, whoever controlled the hiring of dock labor literally controlled the waterfront. Moreover, the hiring of dock labor defined relations between workers and employers in two distinct ways. On the one hand, it was a coercive device, but over time, it also served as a vehicle through which dockworkers would construct notions of group solidarity fundamental for the rank-and-file movement. A central aspect was the form in which dock labor was hired.

Keywords:   waterfront, power and work, workforce, longshoremen, working class, dockworkers, rank-and-file movement

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