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Irving Velson had a long career as a communist and union organizer. His impact was most pronounced in the International Longshoremen's and Warehousemen's Union. An associate of ILWU President Harry Bridges, in 1938 he was elected to the New York State Senate as an American Labor Party candidate. By 1940 he became secretary to the Brooklyn Metal Trades Council at the Navy Yard. Syndicated labor columnist Victor Riesel targeted Velson's Communism in a series of attacks that were published nationwide.