The bitter split between the AFL and CIO still was a fact of life in 1946, and it was one of the reasons why the MTD was formed.
AFL maritime unions used the MTD as a vehicle to pool their resources in historic organizing drives against such companies as Isthmian and Cities Service. John Bunker, a maritime labor historian, wrote, “There were no Marquis of Queensbury rules in those organizing drives. No punches were held back by either side. It was a dogfight all the way.”
Increasingly, the MTD began establishing itself as a place where all unions could turn for help.
Working through the MTD’s network of port maritime councils, trade union activists supported striking members of the United Financial Employees Union, Local 205, AFL, during the bitterly contested Wall Street Strike of 1948. (The Wall Street Strike was the subject of filmmaker Stanley Kubrick’s first documentary.)
In 1946, the MTD went to the aid of the Masters Mates & Pilots, Marine Firemen’s Union, International Longhsoremen’s Association and the CIO Shipbuilders.
When organized crime tried to infiltrate the International Ladies Garment Workers Union, trade union activists stood by their union brothers and sisters at a rally held in mid-town Manhattan that was attended by more than 50,000 people. Newspaper accounts of the time noted the presence of trade union activists associated with the MTD.
And when Canadian mariners asked the MTD to help them fight a Communist element on the Canadian waterfront, MTD-affiliated unions participated in full force.