The Pacific Northwest Labor History Association Honors ILWU Local 21 and historian Ron Magden

At their annual conference this May, the Pacific Northwest Labor History Association honored the ILWU’s past and present struggles by presenting two awards to ILWU affiliates.  During the organization’s well-attended conference awards banquet on May 19th, PNLHA president Ross Rieder presented Local 21 with the 2012 History in the Making Award and named historian Ron Magden the Labour History Person of the Year.

Magden, has long been in service to the ILWU.  In the 1970s, he helped Dr. Art Martinson edit ILWU Local 23’s grant proposal to the Washington Commission for the Humanities, a book project the rank-and-file turned over to a committee led by Phil Lelli, Wardell Canada and Daryl Hedman. Since then, Magden has written three books on longshore workers in Seattle and Tacoma, as well as numerous articles. Mike Jagielski, President of the Local 23 Pensioners’ Club, of which Magden is an honorary member,  gave the introduction, speaking not only to Magden’s work on behalf of the ILWU, but also his scholarly efforts on behalf of the Japanese American and Native American communities in the Pacific Northwest. Ron is currently helping Seattle Local 19 finish its current history book, as well as working with Local 23 officers and staff, and the University of Washington, to digitize his vast collection of historical photographs and other material related to longshore workers, which will be available online in the future.

Following Magden’s award acceptance, ILWU International Executive Board member Max Vekich introduced Local 21 President Dan Coffman and gave a brief account of the bitter struggle in Longview that pitted the local against EGT, the company that operates Longview’s new grain terminal.  Coffman gave an impassioned account of the local’s battle to win a fair contract and the incredible showing of solidarity from across the globe that helped ensure their success.  Coffman was joined by Local 21 members Byron Jacobs, Secretary-Treasurer; Jason Lundquist, LRC Chair; Bud Lile, LRC member; and Ralph Rider, Executive Board member.  They received cheers and a standing ovation from the audience.

The Pacific Northwest Labour History Association is a non-profit association dedicated to preserving the history and heritage of working people British Columbia, Oregon and Washington.  Their membership consists of union members, students, scholars, and others interested in Pacific Northwest labor history, including a number of ILWU members.  Local 21 is not the first ILWU affiliate to receive the Labor History in the Making award. The award was initiated in 2001 to honor ILWU Local 5, who received it in recognition of their successful organizing efforts at Powell’s Books.

-Robin Walker




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