The ILWU in Hawaii was not always the united organization that we have today. Before the 1950’s there were many separate, somewhat independent ILWU locals in Hawaii.
As workers first began to organize and join the ILWU, they formed separate locals for each plantation, longshore operation, or factory.
Workers in these separate locals discovered they needed greater unity in order to bargain with employers who were well organized and who cooperated with other employers in fighting the growing union movement. Thus, the ILWU locals joined forces and formed four Territory-wide locals:
- Local 136 Longshore and Allied Workers of Hawaii
- Local 142 United Sugar Workers
- Local 150 Warehouse, Manufacturing & Allied Workers
- Local 152 Pineapple and Cannery Workers
Even with this greater degree of organization and unity, not all of these locals could afford to open an office or hire full-time Business Agents or volunteers.
United is the Best Way
In 1952, the four Territory-wide locals merged to form a single consolidated Local 142. In this way, the Union gained strength and built island-wide economic and political cooperation. The workers needed this unity to survive against powerful employers.
Consolidation of Local 142 enabled the Union to pool resources and funds. In this way, the Union could provide more and better services which the smaller and scattered groups could not afford. Division offices were built for Hawaii, Maui, Kauai and Oahu. Full-time staff and Business Agents were hired.