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Union by LawFilipino American Labor Activists, Rights Radicalism, and Racial Capitalism$
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Michael W. McCann and George I. Lovell

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780226679877

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226680071.001.0001

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Rights Radicalism amid “Restrictive” Law

Rights Radicalism amid “Restrictive” Law

The War Years

(p.161) 3 Rights Radicalism amid “Restrictive” Law
Union by Law

Michael W. McCann

George I. Lovell

University of Chicago Press

This chapter outlines the complex implications of World War II and the early Cold War for Filipino migrant workers. Against a backdrop of US wartime alliance with the Philippines against Japan, widespread military service by Filipinos in the metropole and in the colony, and American promises of Philippine independence, Filipinos became valued or at least tolerated for more than their physical labor. At the same time, wartime military service depleted the workers’ ranks in the union and led to new stages of union development, increasingly Left wing leadership, and eventual affiliation as ILWU (International Longshoremen’s and Warehousemen’s Union) Local 37. Moreover, post-war “deradicalization” of the Wagner Act by the Taft-Hartley Act and federal courts along with Cold War crackdowns by the American state on alleged communists – including detention, attempted deportation, and persistent legal proceedings – strained the union. The leftist labor activists prevailed in most legal battles and sharpened their egalitarian legal consciousness, as exemplified throughout the text of the ILWU Local 37 1952 Yearbook. By the mid-1950s, however, leftist union activists were in retreat and conservative leaders took the reins of union leadership.

Keywords:   World War II, Philippines, Filipinos, Cold War, ILWU Local 37, 1952 Yearbook, Taft-Hartley, communists, deportation, egalitarian legal consciousness

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