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Hector Goulet
1909 - 2004

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Those Who Set the Table
An Interview with Hector Goulet

Hector was born Sept. 22, 1909. He retired in 1972. His formal education included high school and a short business college course. Before coming on the waterfront in June, 1930, Brother Goulet worked at odd jobs and one year at a plywood mill.

In the 1934 strike, Hector was assigned to the roving squad. He was fortunate to have missed many of the big donnybrooks, such as the Smith Cove fight where tear gas, clubs and guns, as we all have witnessed on film and in print, were used liberally on the strikers.

It is Hector’s opinion that, just as any principled beef today, there were "fence-riders" during the ’34 strike. Winning the strike, though, brought most of them around.

During the strike, even the most optimistic knew it was ‘touch & go’ against overwhelming odds and if the greatest effort wasn’t put forth the longshoremen would lose.

Hector and the vast majority of his brothers viewed the contract as a great victory – we can all agree with him on that! While he did not suffer greatly during the strike, many did, having to go without pay for more than 90 days.

After the strike, the union had to enforce the newly won contract. The employer, refusing to give any weight to a presidential award, began to routinely violate the contract. They saw, as their first task, the eradication of that pesky union. 

The men’s only weapon was the wild-cat strike. Hector felt that some members didn’t want to go along, but the majority saw it as the only weapon in their arsenal that would counter the employers attempt to take away the gains of the ‘34 strike.

In his opinion, the union today is facing serious problems. If the union is not overcome completely, the waterfront is in danger of going back to the fink hall. This was total employer control of hiring and the total injustice that goes with it. 

What can be done about it, he says, it is hard to say. Education of the younger member may help. He also feels that doubling back is a serious threat to the union’s future. In his opinion, The Harry Bridges Institute will be of little help.

Other than his activity in the Seattle ILWU Pension Club, Hector spends his time taking in the slack. No one can deny that he has earned that.

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