By Meghan Mason | ILWU
On June 25, Local 23 hosted a Celebration of Women in Maritime at the Foss Waterway Seaport. Hundreds of Local 23 members, their families, folks from nearby locals, and other members of the maritime community, including Port Commissioner Dick Marzano, gathered at the historical venue and maritime museum on a bright Sunday evening. The museum houses a bronze statue of Harry Bridges and has an exhibit dedicated to the Port of Tacoma and Local 23.
The event was professionally catered and began with a cocktail hour. Many attendees traded in their steel-toed boots and Carhartts for fine evening wear. Before commencing the program, a first-of-its-kind photo was taken of all current and former Local 23 sisters in attendance.
The event kicked off with Janice Peralta of Local 23 giving a speech detailing her journey on the waterfront, followed by the event’s guest speakers. ILWU-PMA Washington Area Welfare Director Andrea Stevenson gave a powerful history highlighting her many “firsts” and other struggles and triumphs for women in the industry since she started on the waterfront in Local 19 through the child of the deceased program. IBU Secretary-Treasurer Terri Mast was a commanding presence as always and left the crowd inspired by her impressive career and feeling hopeful for the future. The program closed with Gail Ross of Local 23 presenting a plaque to Beverly Berge and posthumously to Marlene Peterson, the first two women to work on the Tacoma waterfront in the late 1970s. Attendees of the event said it felt very good to be celebrated and the honored guests were grateful to be recognized.
The idea for the event formed when Meghan Mason of Local 23 was introduced to Foss Waterway Seaport’s Education Director Julia Berg, through a real estate transaction. Berg was excited about the possibility of a collaboration with Local 23 to hold an event celebrating “International Day for Women in Maritime,” an annual event held every May 18 since 2022. Local 23 had just created a committee to honor the founding sisters of their local; Mason brought the concept to the committee and soon the event grew to be something much more than Berg and Mason had imagined.