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Episode 6 – Things Fall Apart
Following the deal to allow unrestricted automation of longshore work in exchange for higher salaries and benefits, the ILA entered a period of a long decline. As containerization ate away at the number of jobs on the docks, the union was also encircled by another force, the FBI. The FBI’s UNIRAC investigation into the ILA was its largest racketeering trial ever at the time. But by refusing to go after the core problem of a total lack of accountability of union leaders to membership, and instead going for a career-making trial of a few individuals, government prosecutors made little progress in their professed goal of “cleaning up the waterfront.”
Main sources for this series include: Reds or Rackets by Howard Kimeldorf, Strife on the Waterfront by Vernon Jensen, New York Longshoremen: Class and Power on the Docks by William Mello, and Mobsters, Unions, and Feds by James Jacobs. Clips from YouTube.
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