History of International Longshoremen’s Association Presidents


The ILA was first created along the Great Lakes Region in 1892 . That same year, The National Longshoreman Association was named and adopted at the Detroit Convention. At first, the Longshore Union was called “National Longshoremen’s Association of  the United States”

However, the new union’s organizers were so successful in chartering Canadian locals that the word “National” was quickly outgrown and the Association became International in 1895.

Imagine trying to count all the men and women who, since 1892, became members of the ILA.  It’s a number that perhaps reaches a million strong.  Consider that among all those members, there have only been nine men to serve as International Presidents in the long-storied history of our great union.


ILA PRESIDENTS – 1892 to Current


  1. DANIEL J. KEEFE 1892-1909

-ILA Founder

-Tugboat Worker, beginning his career in the early 1870’s at port of Chicago

-Entered field of labor by founding a longshore union on the Great Lakes in 1877

-Kept longshore union intact during the 1886 Haymarket Riot in Chicago at a time when other unions fell and were ruined

-In 1892 Keefe organized a Longshore Convention in Detroit where delegates from eleven ports adopted by-laws based on the rules of the Chicago local

-National Longshore Association named in 1892

-International Longshoremen’s Association named in 1895

-Retired in 1908 


  1. T.V. O’CONNOR 1909-1921

-Tugboat Captain from Buffalo

-Presidency spanned twelve of the ILA’s most intriguing and influential years

-Issues of Panama Canal were of huge importance at this time

-New York District Council is formed

-ILA Gulf Coast and Pacific Coast District’s are established

-Opened International at 11 Broadway in Manhattan

-Launched organizational drive in which ILA received hundreds of applications from Manhattan’s West Side

-Retired in 1921


  1. Anthony Chlopek 1921-1927

-Last of the Great Lake Presidents

-Institution of Prohibition Enforcement Law

-Branch Headquarters for the International is established in New York

-Testified in front of US Shipping Board that the working conditions for longshoremen were unbearable

-Known as a conservative ILA President

-An on-going battle takes place at South Atlantic and Gulf Coasts where the ILA was unable to hold its own against the employers

-Retired as ILA President to become the union’s legislative agent


  1. Joseph P. Ryan 1927-1953

-Officer of the New York District Council

-In 1918 became President of the Atlantic Coast District

-Served as first International Vice President

-ILA faces tough times during Great Depression

-Following World War II the ILA was at its peak, with wages and memberships up.

-Pacific Coast Longshoremen depart from the ILA

-ILA accused of gangsterism

-Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor was created in 1953

-Retired in 1953


  1. Captain William Bradley 1953-1963

-Tugboat Captain

-Became head of Marine Division at 1951 convention

-Elected President of the ILA-Independent at November 1953 Convention

-International Brotherhood of Longshoremen looks to take over ILA

-Very popular in ports that were under attack by the IBL

-Called a strike in March 1954

-ILA defeats IBL in a close election in May 1954

-ILA defeats IBL again in 1956

-ILA is readmitted to AFL-CIO in 1959


  1. Thomas Gleason 1963-1987

-Gleason family of Manhattan’s Lower West Side had been on waterfront since 1888.

-General Organizer that went port to port in 1950’s to defeat International Brotherhood of Longshoreman (IBL)

-Elected President at ILA International Convention in 1963

-Moved ILA Headquarters to 17 Battery Place, New York

-As Automation and Containerization increased, Gleason saved countless jobs

-In 1965 Gleason negotiates, what was at the time, the longest lasting ILA contract in history

-Negotiates Container Royalty in 1968

-Creates Guaranteed Annual Income (GAI) program, the Job Security Program (JSP) and the “Rules on Containers” (The Rules) 

  1. John Bowers 1987-2007

-Native of Manhattan’s West Side

-Veteran of US Army served in World War II

-President of ILA Local 824 for 50 years

-Founded ILA Civil Rights Committee in 1991

-Established ILA children’s fund in 1993

-Served as International Executive Vice President for 24 years

-President of ILA’s Atlantic Coast District

-MILA (Management International  Longshoremen Association) health plan is created in the mid 1990’s

-Vice President and Executive Board member of the AFL-CIO

-Served as Grand Marshal for 1994 Martin Luther King Day Parade in Atlanta, GA

-Awarded maritime’s top honor in 1992 and was given Admiral of the Ocean Sea Award


  1. Richard Hughes 2007-2011

-Began working on docks in 1954 joining ILA Local 1429

-Veteran of United States Navy serving 18 months aboard the U.S.S Juneau

-Joined ILA Local 953 in 1957

-Held elected positions of Business Agent, Recording Secretary, Vice President and President in Local 953

-Vice President on the Atlantic Coast District Executive Board

-Served as Chairman of the Port of Baltimore’s Private Sector Committee


  1. Harold J. Daggett 2011-Present

-Born in 1946 in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village

-Spent his childhood in Woodside, Queens, New York

-Attended Cardinal Farley Military Academy in upstate NY.

-Served in the US Navy and Vietnam in the mid 1960’s

-Began his ILA career as a mechanic with 1804-1 in 1967

-Became foreman with Sea-Land Services

-Appointed Secretary Treasurer and Business Agent of 1804-1 in 1980

-Became President of 1804-1 in 1998

-Secretary Treasurer of the Atlantic Coast District

-Executive Vice President and Assistant General Organizer of our International

-Won 10 year arbitration for The Port of Discovery

-Successfully negotiated two major contracts during his time as President, which includes an agreement with USMX that there will be no fully automated terminals

-Moved International to 5000 West Side Ave North Bergen, New Jersey

-Received the 2019 Man of the Year Award at the New York-New Jersey Foreign Freight Forwarders Dinner

-Inducted into the International Maritime Hall of Fame in May 2019