SAN FRANCISCO — Harry Bridges, the Australian-born seaman whose waterfront union organizing spread from the West Coast docks to the Hawaiian sugar plantations, was eulogized as a man who remained the champion of working men and women up to his death at 88.
"Harry was an ordinary man . . . a working stiff (who) articulated the demands and desires of the people he represented," labor arbitrator Sam Kagel told the audience packing the International Longshoremen's and Warehousemen's Union headquarters on Saturday.
A New Orleans-style band played the "Battle Hymn of the Republic" at the public memorial honoring the naturalized American who founded the ILWU and fought four deportation attempts by U.S. officials who claimed he was a Communist.
Work on the docks halted Saturday in Washington state where about 70 union members, leaders and retirees paid last respects, the second shutdown of West Coast ports in two weeks. The day after Bridges died of emphysema on March 30, 9,000 union members along the coast walked off the job.