Longshoremen vote to strike West Coast ports on July 1, 1971.

  • By David Wilma
  • Posted 7/09/2002
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 3883

On July 1, 1971, members of the International Longshoremen and Warehousemen's Union (ILWU) vote to strike West Coast ports in a contract dispute. Work will resume after 100 days when President Richard M. Nixon (1913-1994) invokes the Taft-Hartley Act. The unions will strike again on January 17, 1972, when the Taft-Hartley injunction expires and will stay out for another 34 days before a settlement is reached. This is the first time in 23 years that all 56 ports on the Pacific Coast are closed by a labor action.

The five-year contract between the dock workers and the Pacific Maritime Association had expired in 1971. When the sides failed to agree on a new contract, leaders called for a strike vote, which passed. On August 14, 1971, President Nixon imposed nationwide wage and price controls to combat inflation. A pay board was established to approve requests for wage increases. When Nixon invoked his authority under the Taft-Hartley Act in October, a 80 day cooling-off period began. Strikers reluctantly returned to work. As soon as the injunction expired, the union walked again.

Ultimately, the Longshoremen obtained wage increases, but these were reduced by the pay board.


"Strike of 1971," Historical Documents, Pacific Maritime Association website (www.pmanet.org).

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