"There Were Years of Neglect": The Ship Scalers Union and Seattle's Racial Progressivism in the 20th Century
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The present research presents a case history of the Ship Scalers, Dry Dock, and Miscellaneous Boatyard Workers Union, Local 541, through the use of archival material including correspondences, newsletters, and Seattle Times articles about the union. During its brief existence (ca. 1935-1986) Local 541 served as an activist organization and presents a critique of Seattle’s near folk adoration as a “blue” city. From WWII on, the Ship Scalers Union played an active and integrated role in Seattle’s social history, and especially Seattle’s black community in their fight for equality. By allying itself with Seattle civil rights organizations, using its union hall as a meeting place for activism, and allowing both communists and African Americans to be freely admitted to its ranks, Local 541 effected some of the most significant civil rights reform in the city and causes a re-imagining of Seattle’s progressivism during the past century.