ILWU Local 142
As the ILWU Local 142’s General Counsel from 1946 to 1978, Harriet was involved in mounting the legal defense of working men and women as well as those who otherwise would have no advocate in seeking social and workplace justice.
The Harriet Bouslog Labor Scholarship commemorates the historic achievements of the ILWU Local 142 and encourages greater awareness and understanding of the ILWU Local 142’s economic, social, and political contributions to Hawaii.
History of ILWU Local 142
Hawaii in 1935 was dominated by five companies, known as the Big Five, which owned or controlled nearly all economic activity in the islands. To a large extent, business controlled government and society—the political and social climate was very pro-business and very anti-union. The few unions that did exist were limited to white, skilled craftsmen.
The position of the individual plantation worker was especially vulnerable. The house where he lived, the stores where he bought his food and equipment, the hospital, all were owned by plantation management. Most of the plantation families had to spend 50% of their income for food and the larger families were “apt to suffer from malnutrition.”
Workers began to organize and joined the ILWU Local 142, to have greater unity in order to bargain with employers. The ILWU gave working people the collective power to improve the living standards of their families, and the power to bargain with their employers for better wages, benefits, and working conditions. Through their union, workers were able to protect their rights and have a stronger voice in what happened in the workplace.