The International Longshoremen’s Association, AFL-CIO is the largest union of maritime workers in North America, representing upwards of 65,000 longshoremen on the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts, Great Lakes, major U.S. rivers, Puerto Rico and Eastern Canada.

In its 125-year existence, it has had a turbulent history.

One of the first incarnations of the modern longshoremen’s union, the Longshoremen’s Union Protective Association (LUPA), was formed to combat the exploitation of the workforce along the U.S. coastal regions in 1864.

Another version of the union was formed along the Great Lakes region, as the Association of Lumber Handlers, which would later become the ILA.

In 1914, the New York-based LUPA would be absorbed into the ILA. Dramatic events throughout the ILA’s history have led to a now modern union that is focused on preserving jobs and protecting wages.