Labor History Talks Series

The San Francisco Maritime National Park Association and the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park bring you the second installment of our Labor History Talks Series.

“Where’s Pete Panto?”: Memory and Commemoration of a Murdered Dock Worker and Labor Activist 

A presentation by Joseph Sciorra, Ph.D.

In 1939, organized crime members brutally murdered Italian American dock worker and labor activist Pietro “Pete” Panto as retribution for his having led a rank-and-file movement against a corrupt and crime-infested labor union in Brooklyn, New York. By the late 1930s, working conditions on the Brooklyn docks were rife with endemic problems such as the shape-up hiring system, mandatory salary kickbacks, extortion, and high numbers of work-related injuries. Panto resisted bribes and the mob’s pressure to cease his struggle on behalf of dockworkers, and ultimately he paid with his life. His decaying body was found eighteen months later in a New Jersey lime pit and was buried in an unmarked grave in a Long Island cemetery. No one was convicted of his murder. Joseph Sciorra’s presentation will discuss this historical account and recent efforts to commemorate Panto’s sacrifice for laboring people, including the campaign to install a tombstone for this working-class hero.

2:00 PM – 4:00 PM
Sunday, October 29, 2023

Maritime Museum
900 Beach St.
San Francisco, CA 94109


Joseph Sciorra, Ph.D. is the Director of Academic and Cultural Programs at Queens College’s John D. Calandra Italian American Institute, a City University of New York research institute. He is the author of Built with Faith: Italian American Imagination and Catholic Material Culture in New York City (2015) and co-editor of the two-volume collection New Italian Migrations to the United States (2017), among other publications. He has recently published on Italian Americans’ shifting and diverse relationships to Columbus commemorations. 

Light refreshments will be served following the program.


The Labor History Talks Series is held in proud partnership by the San Francisco Maritime National Park Association and the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park. We are dedicated to bringing together top academics to discuss the nuances and history of the labor movement, particularly with regard to maritime history.


Past talks:

“Harry Bridges: Labor Radical, Labor Legend” A conversation with Professor Robert Cherny and Harvey Schwartz, Ph.D., July 9, 2023