A Short History of the Maritime Trades Department
On August 19, 1946, the American Federation of Labor (AFL) issued a charter to the Maritime Trades Department (MTD) “for the purpose of organizing workers into labor unions and to form a more perfect federation of all trades.”
It was a pivotal time in the history of maritime labor.
The original charter came:
- One month before the Maritime Strike of 1946.
- One month after shipboard unions affiliated with the AFL won important wage increases in beefs against the Waterman and Mississippi Shipping companies.
- Eleven months after the end of World War II.
- Ten years after enactment of the historic Merchant Marine Act of 1936.
- Eleven years after the formation of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO).
- Twelve years after the bloody West Coast Strike of 1934.
- Thirteen years after the start of the New Deal.
- And thirty-one years after enactment of the Seaman’s Act of 1915, which is widely known as the Magna Carta for U.S. civilian mariners.
It was, in other words, the start of a new era for the United States of America, the American labor movement, the U.S. maritime industry and the seaman’s age-old struggle for equality and justice.