Growing Up Punk and Union on the Waterfront

A conversation with longshore workers and union leaders.

Maximillian Alvarez

People walk along a sand berm with a view of anchored container ships which cannot enter the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to load and unload cargo because of a strike by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local on November 29, 2012 in Seal Beach, California. David McNew/Getty Images

We’ve got a Working People first! In this special two-part episode, we sit down to chat with not one but two longshore workers: Zack Pattin and Brian Skiffington from Tacoma, Washington. Zack and Brian are both members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 23, and organizing leaders with the ILWU Young Workers Committee. In Part I of our expansive, multi-hour conversation with Zack and Brian, we talk about their backstories and the winding paths that brought them to where they are now, working together on the waterfront. We also talk about growing up in union families, their mutual love of punk music, and we talk about the fast pace, precision, adrenaline, danger and skill of longshore work.

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Maximillian Alvarez is a writer and editor based in Baltimore and the host of Working People, a podcast by, for, and about the working class today.” His work has been featured in venues like In These Times, The Nation, The Baffler, Current Affairs, and The New Republic.

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