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Strikingly indifferent: the myth of militancy on the docks prior to World War II

Journal article
Authors Jesper Hamark
Published in Labor History
Volume 54
Issue 3
Pages 271-285
ISSN 0023-656X
Publication year 2013
Published at Department of Economy and Society, Economic History
Pages 271-285
Language en
Links dx.doi.org/10.1080/0023656x.2013.80...
Keywords POSITIONAL POWER, LABOR, WATERFRONT, STRIKES, CONFLICT, INDUSTRY,
Subject categories Economic History

Abstract

Dock workers have a reputation of being particularly strike-prone, across time and space. This is the spectre of Kerr and Siegel: one of the few things that has survived the passage of time since their 1950s article on inter-industry propensity to strike is the dockers' disposition to stop work. But, Kerr and Siegel's own results show that the dockers' militancy was in fact modest. More recent research has taken as an article of faith the strike-proneness of dockers. True, dock workers and their conflicts have attracted much attention. But, the reason is not the frequency of strikes in the ports but dockers' crucial position in distribution.

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