LABOR: Seaman Joe & the Scuttlebutt

An American merchant ship was on the high seas this week carrying the highest-paid able seaman in U.S. maritime history: tough, balding Joe Curran, $5,200-a-year president of the C.I.O. National Maritime Union.

Seaman Joe, who wants to see battlefront ports in England, Africa and Russia, had waited for two months for a passport. While his application lay in the doldrums, he hopped a boat for his first job as a working seaman since 1936.

Behind him, on dry land, Seamari Joe's aggressive, left-wing union made more history. It threw the longest picket line...

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