Jimi Hendrix Clara McCarty Captain Robert Gray Anna Louise StrongAnna Louise Strong Bailey Gatzert Home WWII Women Pilots
Search Encyclopedia
Advanced Search
Featured Essay
Home About Us Contact Us Education Bookstore Tourism Advanced Search
7099 HistoryLink.org essays now available      
Donation system not supported by Safari     Donate Subscribe


Cyberpedias Cyberpedias
Timeline Essays Timeline Essays
People's Histories People's Histories

Selected Collections
Cities & Towns Cities & Towns
County Thumbnails Counties
Biographies Biographies
Interactive Cybertours Interactive Cybertours
Slide Shows Slideshows
Public Ports Public Ports
Audio & Video Audio & Video

Research Shortcuts

Map Searches
Alphabetical Search
Timeline Date Search
Topic Search


Book of the Fortnight
Audio/Video Enhanced
History Bookshelf
Klondike Gold Rush Database
Duvall Newspaper Index
Wellington Scrapbook

More History

Washington FAQs
Washington Milestones
Honor Rolls
Columbia Basin
Walla Walla
Roads & Rails

Timeline Library

< Browse to Previous Essay | Browse to Next Essay >

Longshoremen strike the Tacoma Mill Company on March 22, 1886.

HistoryLink.org Essay 5064 : Printer-Friendly Format

On March 22, 1886, longshoremen on the Tacoma waterfront cease loading lumber onto ships, and demand a 10-cent-an-hour raise. The strike continues for five days while employers attempt but fail to hire strikebreakers. The strikers win their raise and go back to work as members of a new union, the Stevedores, Longshoremen and Riggers' Union of Puget Sound.

Typically the Tacoma waterfront was a busy place. Tall-masted ships and steam-powered schooners arrived to unload tea from the Far East (more than $500,000 worth in 1885), and to take on lumber, coal, and wheat for export to other places. Locomotives chugged along tracks and horse-drawn carts clattered back and forth along dirt roads.

Loading By Hand

A major business of the Tacoma docks was exporting lumber cut by the sawmills. To load the lumber onto ships, longshoremen first measured and counted boards and stacked the exact number of each size in separate stacks. Then horses dragged the stacks to skids set at the sterns of the ships anchored at the docks. Other longshoremen dragged these skids to the ship's hatches. There men carried the boards, one at a time, to the forward hold where they stacked the lumber into tiers.

On March 22, these workers ceased performing these tasks. Dock employers sent a message to Tacoma Mayor R. Jacob Weisbach: "A mob in charge of our wharf will not allow our men to work. Can you give us protection?" About 40 men had ceased working, and another 50 men who had been at the waterfront waiting for work, now refused to work and joined the strike.

They Stay Away From Tacoma

Immediately the stevedoring firm (the firm contracting with shipping firms to load and unload the ships) sent the steamer Biz to Seattle to hire strikebreakers. The strikers then sent telegrams to Seattle and to every other port on Puget Sound telling longshoremen to stay away from Tacoma. The longshoremen did stay away. No strikebreakers could be found.

The stevedore company (DeLion and Company of Port Townsend) granted the wage increase and at 12 noon on March 26, 1886, the men went back to work.

Ronald Magden and A. D. Martinon, The Working Waterfront: The Story of Tacoma's Ships and Men (Tacoma: International Longshoremen's and Warehousemen's Union, Local 23 and Port of Tacoma, 1982), v-vi.

Travel through time (chronological order):
< Browse to Previous Essay | Browse to Next Essay >

Related Topics: Maritime | Labor |

Licensing: This essay is licensed under a Creative Commons license that encourages reproduction with attribution. Credit should be given to both HistoryLink.org and to the author, and sources must be included with any reproduction. Click the icon for more info. Please note that this Creative Commons license applies to text only, and not to images. For more information regarding individual photos or images, please contact the source noted in the image credit.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

Major Support for HistoryLink.org Provided By: The State of Washington | Patsy Bullitt Collins | Paul G. Allen Family Foundation | Museum Of History & Industry | 4Culture (King County Lodging Tax Revenue) | City of Seattle | City of Bellevue | City of Tacoma | King County | The Peach Foundation | Microsoft Corporation, Other Public and Private Sponsors and Visitors Like You

This essay made possible by:
City of Tacoma Economic Development Department

Sailing vessels loading lumber, Tacoma waterfront, ca. 1887
Photo by E. A. Lynn, Courtesy UW Special Collections (Neg.UW5367)

Home About Us Contact Us Education Bookstore Tourism Advanced Search

HistoryLink.org is the first online encyclopedia of local and state history created expressly for the Internet. (SM)
HistoryLink.org is a free public and educational resource produced by History Ink, a 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt corporation.
Contact us by phone at 206.447.8140, by mail at Historylink, 1411 4th Ave. Suite 803, Seattle WA 98101 or email admin@historylink.org

Untitled Document