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May 29, 2024

Harry Bridges: The labor union leader who fought for workers’ rights and faced decades of litigation

Harry Bridges, a labor union leader, had a significant impact on California’s economy and was involved in decades of litigation, including three U.S. Supreme Court cases.

John S. Caragozian


John is a Los Angeles-based lawyer and sits on the Board of the California Supreme Court Historical Society. He welcomes ideas for future monthly columns on California's legal history at


Labor union leader Harry Bridges had--and continues to have--an enormous impact on California's economy. He also was a defendant in decades of litigation, including three U.S. Supreme Court cases.

Bridges was born in Australia in 1901. As a teenager, he joined the Australian Seamen's Union and sailed the world.

In 1920, Bridges arrived in the U.S. and eventually settled in San Francisco. He became a longshoreman...

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