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last night on the waterfront was on tcm (again). it reminded me of this brilliant village voice report from 2006 which included the true story of tommy hanley.
"That's how it always was," said Tommy Hanley, 66, who started working on the docks when he was 17, three years after he portrayed Marlon Brando's young pal in the memorable rooftop pigeon-coop scenes of On the Waterfront.
"You say something," said Hanley, "and someone in the back of the room says, 'Sit down. You're doing all right. You're working, ain'tcha?' "
Last spring, Hanley, who for years lost out on hours and promotions because he refused to pay off the mob's henchmen, was elected a shop steward at Global Terminal, the local's largest employer, replacing a long line of mob-selected enforcers.
"It was the first legit elections I seen in my 49 years on the piers," said Hanley.
The unlikely revolution at Local 1588 began three years ago when U.S. District Court Judge John Martin was presented with evidence of massive corruption at the union and agreed to appoint a federal administrator to run the 450-member local's affairs. The judge's orders were to do whatever was necessary to rid the local of mob influence and set it on a path to self-rule.