"Captain Josh and the Drill Team"

“Captain” Josh Williams is a 78-year-old retired longshoreman living in San Francisco. He has travelled a long road in his life, born in Texas in 1934, the son of a black sharecropper, finally landing in San Francisco where he became a proud member of the longshore union. But walk into his house, a small terraced building near Candlestick Park, and you enter another world. As your eyes adjust to the blue hue of the light filtering through a giant aquarium, you realize that the walls are covered, every square inch, with photos, newspaper clippings and awards of Captain Josh’s pride and joy, his Drill Team.

This is a team full of characters, full of high jinx. To watch them board a trolley car on the Embarcadero on route to St. Patrick’s Day is to watch a highjack of a quiet ride along the Bay, turned into a semi-riotous performing arts piece. It’s all jokes and innuendo, lots of cleats on the wooded floorboards and the polishing of each others’ shoes...


To read an article about the Drill Team which apppeared in the "Christian Science Monitor," click here.

Click here to see the Drill Team rehearsing

         "There were no two people who were closer than Harry and I."
                                                       (Sam Kagel)

"To Make a Long Story Short:

the Life and Times of Sam Kagel"

The heart of the film is Sam himself, who describes his life’s work in his own inimitable style. Sam speaks with a directness and clarity that makes understanding even the most complex issues easy and gives the listener the human side of historic events. For example, he remembers getting Harry Bridges and Jimmy Hoffa down on their knees in a San Francisco hotel room to draw up a plan of the docks on sheets of butcher paper. It became the basis of an agreement between the ILWU and the Teamsters, that months of negotiations had failed to produce. From the street battles of 1934 to the contract negotiations for NFL stars, Sam kept America at work.

The film features interviews with people who knew Sam well, adding a richness to our portrait of this extraordinary man. Photos, newspaper headlines, personal letters, music and artifacts highlight the stories.


"Men Versus Machines:

Mechanization on the Waterfront"

This documentary film tells the story of the time leading up to the implementation of the first Modernization and Mechanization (M & M) Agreement in 1961. These stories reveal the often-fierce debates that erupted within the union. At stake was the transformation of the ILWU.

The agreement was also groundbreaking for the American labor movement, helping it fight for the rights of workers in the other industries that faced increased mechanization and subsequent job loses.

The M&M agreements are a vital part of the economic scenario that has made globalization possible. It is perhaps ironic that agreements seen as visionary for American industry have played a part in the movement of so much of that industry abroad. It is certainly ironic that today the longshore division of the ILWU, rather than facing the continued shrinking of it's workforce as feared in 1961, is expanding it's membership to handle the ever increasing work in the west coast ports.


Our First Two Radio Documentaries.

“From Wharf Rats to Lords of the Docks”. Our first radio documentary explores Bridges' early life, the creation of the ILWU, his campaigns for social justice, and the five trials and hearings that he endured during his quest for citizenship. It includes interviews with union members, his lawyers, and personal friends. Rare union and folk songs, are also woven into the story. Voices include Ed Asner and Haskell Wexler. The documentary was distributed by PRI (Public Radio International) and it aired across the country on over 75 public radio stations on Labor Day 2000, as well as in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands. This project was funded by a major grant from the California Council for the Humanities.

"From Piers to Plantations: a Union in Hawai'i"Our second radio documentary focuses on the development of Hawai'i's multi-ethnic workforce and the impact of the ILWU. The organizing of sugar and pineapple workers, the first time that agricultural workers were brought into a union, changed the economic and political life of the islands. Voices featured in the documentary include the late Carroll O'Connor,  Karl Malden and Congresswoman Patsy Mink and Ed Asner,  Congressman Neil Abercrombie and Senator Daniel Inouye. The documentary aired in Hawai’i, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and the Pacific islands, funded by a major grant from the Hawai'i Council for the Humanities and the ILWU Local 142, Hawai'i.