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On the waterfront, as fishermen are about to strike against tuna cannery boss Nick Lewis, Dutch Muller talks them out of it, realizing that Nick wants them to break their contract with him so he can hire cheap labor. On the day of Dutch's wedding to his feisty girl friend Hattie, Dutch shows her their installment plan-financed house and tells her that he will be the new union head because Brains, the present, older head of the union, is going to be replaced. As his first official act, Dutch calls a strike, worrying Hattie, who fears Dutch's ambition. Weeks after the strike has resulted in scab labor and poverty for the fishermen, Brains tries to work an equitable settlement with Nick and replaces Dutch when he refuses to listen to reason. Now broke, Dutch fumes as their furniture is repossessed, and refuses Brains's offer to take him back into the union with the rest of the men. Just then, "Flytrap," Nick's underling, arrives with Hattie's repossessed fur. Because Nick yearns for Hattie, he has paid the balance owed for her. Enraged, Dutch says that he will run for the state union official and slaps Brains when he tries to tell him to give up his conceit. When Hattie agrees with Brains, Nick walks out, saying that he needs to make good. Several months later, Nick convinces Hattie to obtain a divorce, but she still refuses to marry him. When Dutch's friend Lew tells her that Dutch is sick and has been living in a hobo camp outside of Sacramento, she asks Nick for money, but he refuses. She secretly takes it anyway, leaving a note promising to pay him back, but at the hobo camp, Dutch jumps a freight to avoid seeing her. Nick then presses charges against her and she goes to prison, even though she is pregnant. After the baby is born, Hattie's sister Lil takes care of him. Hearing that Hattie has been jailed, but not knowing about the baby, Dutch goes to Nick for help, but he refuses, and the union refuses to accept him back as well. Dutch then goes to see Hattie with an escape plan, but she says she never wants to see him again. Returning to work, she tells two other inmates the details of Dutch's escape plan, and they convince her that it is a good one. Meanwhile, Dutch goes to Brains begging for a job to help Hattie, and Brains gets him a job as a night watchman. Soon, on a rainy night, Hattie and two other women escape from prison through a drain pipe, but one of the women is killed. That same night, while Dutch is standing guard, his old pal Belcher and some other men approach him about sabotaging the docks. Dutch refuses to go through with it, then Hattie's brother Jimmy, who has been hiding nearby, summons Brains and the union men. They arrive just in time to see Dutch thrashing the saboteurs. Now a hero, Dutch is reinstated by the men, who keep Hattie's escape a secret from him. Meanwhile, Hattie has arrived at Lil's and asks Jimmy to go to get Dutch, who has finally heard about Hattie's escape. Jimmy tries to talk to him, but Dutch sends him away because, unknown to Jimmy, the police are there. Jimmy returns to Hattie, saying that Dutch would not come, but Hattie refuses to loose faith in him. Soon Dutch arrives, pursued by the police. Reunited with Hattie, he admits that he has been conceited and is now humbled. A finally happy Hattie now says that she will not run away. When Dutch hears the baby's cry, Hattie tells him that it is theirs.