MUA Mourns Passing Of US Union Stalwart

MUA National Secretary and ITF President Paddy Crumlin has sent a letter of condolence to Harold Daggett following the passing of former International Longshoremen's Association (ILA) President John Bowers. Mr Bowers died on Sunday at his home on Long Island, N.Y. He was 88.

Dear brother Harold,

I have just heard the news that John has passed away Sunday afternoon.

Can you please pass on my deepest personal sympathies and condolences to The Bowers family and to all my very best friends  sisters and brothers of the Brotherhood of International Longshoreman of America together with the thoughts and sympathies of General secretary David Cockroft , Dockers Secretary Frank Leys, Maritime Coordinator Steve Cotton and the family of ITF Seafarers Dockers and other ITF affilliates through out the world

John was a close personal friend of mine as you know and supported me to take over the leadership of the ITF Dockworkers following his decision to stand down a number of years ago. His leadership as both President of the ILA and Chair of the ITF Dockworkers Section covered some of the most demanding and challenging developments for both the ILA and dockworkers generally over many years.

His long experience in the industry together with his steely backbone, wisdom and dry good humour galvanised dockworkers in the union and around the world to strengthen the campaign in defence of our right to work under decent and sustainable conditions of employment. John's great mate and equal in standing and experience in the ILA and ITF Tommy Gleeson were like the bookend brothers for decades bringing a particular type of insight into our Dockers movement.  I know Tommy in particular will also be feeling the loss.

John was an old school guy, born out of generations of dockworkers in the US. He had the foresight to see the massive offensive against international dockworkers and worked the whole of his life to combat it. In recent years his role in the Liverpool Dockers Dispute was critical and sustained, resulting in great legal damage being incurred by the union,  as was his support and solidarity through our Patrick dispute in Australia and for Dockers rights in Europe and elsewhere

He worked hard at rebuilding the rights of ILA members, resulting in the unanimous support for the important leadership of Ritchie Hughes and now yourself Harold as President of the ILA. The recent ILA Convention I attended and the strong determination of you and the new unity within your  executive and union to continue the struggle and fight for the rights of ILA, North American and International Dockworkers is testament to the leadership he carried with him right to his retirement and into it.

Dockworkers are heavy lifters, and fight hard for their individual and collective voice, something John knew and devoted his working life to.

Little in stature, understated in voice, nevertheless he carried his and our day with style, humour and hard headed experience we will reflect on for many years to come.

Again to all my brothers and sisters at the ILA, to you Harold, Ritchie , please pass on my and my wife Gail's deepest personal condolences to the Bowers family and the extended family of the ILA from the ITF, my union the MUA and the international affiliates and members we represent.

Sincerely and in unity

Paddy Crumlin

ITF President

Maritime Union of Australia National Secretary