Fighting Men from a Fighting Union by Archie Brown, Political Commissar, Co. 1, Battalion 58

December 21, 2018
By
Archie Brown, Commissar, Company 1, Lincoln-Washington, September 1938. The 15th International Brigade Photographic Unit Photograph Collection; ALBA Photo 11; ALBA Photo number 11-0251. Tamiment Library/Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives. Elmer Holmes Bobst Library, 70 Washington Square South, New York, NY 10012, New York University Libraries.

Archie Brown, Commissar, Company 1, Lincoln-Washington, September 1938. The 15th International Brigade Photographic Unit Photograph Collection; ALBA Photo 11; ALBA Photo number 11-0251. Tamiment Library/Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives. Elmer Holmes Bobst Library, 70 Washington Square South, New York, NY 10012, New York University Libraries.

Fighting Men from a Fighting Union by Archie Brown, Political Commissar, Co. 1, Battalion 58

The Volunteer for Liberty, V. 2, No. 32, September 17, 1938.

The nights were cold enough for picketing but in the bargain, there were the cops and the strike breakers. Broken heads and even killings were common. On July 5th a flock of squad-cars rolled up alongside the union’s lot and ordered the men to disperse. The men had started to leave when suddenly the cops fired into them killing two and wounding fifty others.

Instead of breaking the strike this unwarranted action by the police further inflamed the workers and San Francisco saw its first general strike. After ninety days of bitter struggle the seafaring unions forced the ship owners to their knees. That was in 1934. In 1936 and 1937 the performance had to be repeated, and as the strike was over a group of men from the International Longshoremen & Warehousemen’s Union sailed for Spain. They felt that in going to Spain they were merely continuing the fight that started on the picket-line –a world-wide fight for decent living conditions and for human justice.

Among that first group was Max Bowers, Hymie (Bimbo) Brown and Wilbur Wellman all of whom have been here over eighteen months and have given a good account of themselves. Since they have been here the Union has continued to grow and progress. The longshoremen and the warehousemen took a little longer to get under way. But they grew from a union of 500 members (in 1934) to over 8,000 (by 1937). And their growth is limited only by the number of warehousemen in the Bay area.

After the retreat from Teruel, Pat Sullivan and several other members of the union left for Spain. Pat turned up missing after the retreat across the Ebro. They tell me he didn’t mind the lack of training; he was anxious to get at the Fascists. In May of this year Henry Good (warehouseman) and I (longshore) came over, and we saw our first action across in the victorious re-crossing of the Ebro.

Back home the union is still doing its stuff. I’d like to quote a letter: and now we have over 800 participating in various sports activities. We expect to have them all marching in the Labor Day Parade. Imagine, the first time in Frisco’s history a sports section in the Parade. Our own band will lead off with the girls drill team following, and then all the ball teams in their swell new uniforms. Of course, you know of our basket-ball and baseball games for Spain. And both the Longshoremen and the Warehousemen send $25 monthly to “The Friends…

Both here and at home, the Union tries to go ahead.

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