Allen, Al collection on the International Longshore and Warehouse Union
Al Allen grew up in San Francisco, Califronia, and entered a career as a longshoreman in International Longshoremen's and Warehousemen's Union, Local 10 (San Francisco). In 1959, Allen came onto the "B List" in San Francisco, working as a winch driver. The ILWU created the new hiring category in San Francisco--"B" men worked irregularly and had the dirtiest jobs, with the promise of promotion to "A" status after a year of work, and were not considered full union members until that time. Later in his career there, Allen moved into crane work. Allen was one of the original people to go to work at SeaLand as a supplement prior to the 1971 Pacific Coast Longshore Strike. During that strike, he served as a picket captain. While at ILWU Local 10, Allen also served on the Promotions Commitee. During this period, Allen worked in various different ports on the Pacific Coast, incluing Los Angeles, Portland, and Tacoma.
Later, Allen used the ILWU transfer program to transfer to the growing port of Tacoma, where he became a member of ILWU, Local 23.
During his time in Tacoma's Local 23, Allen formed a coalition with other transferred longshoremen from the Portland local (ILWU Local 8), and advocated reforms in the union's handling of the dispatch system and the qualification for the test necessary to become a crane operator--a coveted job. Eventually, these transfers from Portland and San Francisco began to reform Local 23's internal political culture, winning offices as the local's president, vice president, on the Longshore Relations Committee, as walking bosses, as clerks, and as crane operators--all positions of esteem and influence in the local. Allen also became an internal advocate for union militancy and policing of the contract and working conditions; filing and assisting other members in filing grievances. Allen was also involved in a gender discrimination grievance and lawsuit by Linda Nyland against the Local 23 and the Pacific Martime Association (the employers' organization).
Allen later retired from ILWU 23 and remains living in Tacoma.