Tommy Vanda (Joe Don Baker) starts out his career as a dockworker in Chicago, where he gets a reputation for his uncompromising attitude and leads his coworkers in an effective strike. Vanda soon rises within the union ranks to become a powerful labor leader. The more unscrupulous side of Vanda's personality, however, leads to criminal charges and jail time. Although the imposing union man eventually gets out of prison, his shadowy past persists in catching up with him.
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