They were aware not only of their potential collective power, and not only of their oppression - but they were aware they weren't alone. Many of the leaders and rank and file members were politically on the left. You could call some of them communists, some of them socialists, some of the members of the IWW - a variety of different traditions suspicious of capitalism, and one of the reasons was they understood that employers, time and again - and still to this day, play workers off each other race, ethnicity and nationalism.
Historian Peter Cole examines the history of building labor solidarity and racial equality between dockworkers, in San Francisco, South Africa and beyond - as key participants on front lines of global capitalism, union members recognized the link between economic and social struggles, and their combined power
Peter is author of the book Dockworker Power: Race and Activism in Durban and the San Francisco Bay Area from University of Illinois Press.