A year after the St. Lawrence Seaway brought saltwater ships to Cleveland, a strike closed the lakefront docks to foreign vessels. The International Longshoremen’s Association picketed four Great Lakes ports, seeking raises. Stevedores at the Lederer Terminal Warehouse Co. — near the foot of East Ninth Street, roughly where the Great Lakes Science Center stands today — set up their picket line at 7 a.m. sharp May 16, 1960. Twelve minutes earlier, they’d finished loading 2,500 tons of steel onto the Norwegian ship Grindefjell.
The strike lasted three weeks. A Dutch ship spent 10 days at the Cuyahoga River’s mouth, waiting for it to end. The longshoremen returned to work June 5 after winning a raise from $2.42 to $2.68 an hour. The 200 strikers would’ve included the most famous Cleveland longshoreman of all — future gangster Danny Greene, who went to work on the docks in 1957 and was elected president of ILA Local 1317 in 1962.
The Port of Cleveland is still striving to attract international shipping. This April, it launched the Cleveland-Europe Express, the Great Lakes’ only international container cargo service. Longshoremen loaded the Belgian freighter Fortunagracht with cargo that included a yellow school bus and cases of Great Lakes Brewing Co. beer.