American Labor on the Docks
The Miles Archer character in Gores's novel has earned his tough-guy reputation by helping quell labor unrest on the docks of Seattle, in part by outing "Wobblies." For the unfamiliar, this plot line may be a bit confusing, but it is historically accurate, and adds welcome color to the novel's setting.
The history of American labor is one of conflict and compromise, and nowhere has this been more true than on the docks. Port cities were among the primary engines of economic growth in the country's early industrial period, and some of the first attempts to build labor unions were carried out by dockworkers (also called longshoremen and stevedores). The Knights of Labor, the American Federation of Labor, and the International Workers of the World (these are the "Wobblies" Gores refers to) all had a hand in dock-side organizing, though their tactics differed.
As the film On the Waterfront so eloquently narrates, the structure of longshoremen...