Jack Wayne Hall was a union organizer who helped bring rank-and-file, democratic unionism to Hawaii. By trade, Hall was a sailor and member of the Sailor’s Union. Born in Wisconsin, he made Hawaii his home port in 1935 and began working with other mainland and local labor activists to build a democratic labor movement in Hawaii.
Hall and others were greatly influenced by a new kind of unionism that was growing on the West Coast which was based on democratic, membership control of the union and the principle of organizing all workers into the union, regardless of race or craft. On the West Coast, longshore and warehouse workers formed a single union based on these principles and called themselves the ILWU.
Hall became the ILWU’s Hawaii regional director and is arguably the single most important person who helped build the ILWU into the democratically run, highly respected, politically active union that it is today.
Many ILWU members enjoy a holiday in their contracts called “Jack Hall Day,” often held on his birthday, February 28, or the day of his passing, January 2.
“A Spark Is Struck” is an excellent biography of Hall by Sanford Zalburg. The second edition is published by Watermark Publishing and is available online and at Local 142 Division offices.