Pushed Ashore: Coast Guard Screening on the Seattle Waterfront
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In 1950s, the United States Coast Guard operated under security regulations which vested them with absolute power in determining what laborers had access to maritime employment in national ports. At the end of World War II the economic and strategic importance of Seattle as a port city intersected with the growing fear that West Coast maritime labor unions were infiltrated by Communism. The 1951 Coast Guard regulations created an elaborate screening program, designed to eliminate subversive workers from maritime employment. This paper examines the lives of Seattle dockworkers and seamen who were disenfranchised by the Port Security Program in the 1950s. I argue that, while the Port Security Program was created as a deliberate effort to sift out Communist and radical laborers from the West Coast maritime economy, pre-existing ethnic, racial, ideological, and inter-union struggles in Seattle were played out through the mechanisms of the Federal screening program.