Tag Archives: Longshore

West Coast Longshore Workers Vote to 3-Year Extension of Labor Contract

The ILWU’s Coast Balloting Committee confirmed that West Coast longshore workers at 29 ports in California, Oregon and Washington have officially ratified a three-year contract extension with the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA). The Committee carefully reviewed balloting results from all longshore local unions and confirmed a tally showing that 67% of members voted in favor of the extension. The current agreement was set to expire on July 1, 2019; the newly approved three-year pact will extend the expiration to July 1, 2022.

The contract extension will raise wages, maintain health benefits, and increase pensions from 2019-2022. 

The results followed a year-long debate and democratic decision-making process which allowed every registered longshore worker from Bellingham, Washington, to San Diego, California, to express their views and cast a ballot.

“The rank-and-file membership has made their decision and expressed a clear choice,” said ILWU International President Robert McEllrath. “During the past year we saw a healthy debate and heard different points of view, with concerns raised by all sides. The democratic process allowed us to make a difficult decision and arrive at the best choice under the circumstances.”

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union’s Coast Longshore Division represents approximately 20,000 longshore workers on the West Coast of the United States.

The Northwest Seaport Alliance recently applauded the International Longshore and Warehouse Union’s ratification of the three-year extension to its contract with the Pacific Maritime Association. 

“In this incredibly competitive shipping market, a longer contract helps give certainty to importers and exporters that depend on our region to move goods and create family-wage jobs,” said Tom Albro, Port of Seattle commission president and co-chair of The Northwest Seaport Alliance. “This certainty helps us focus on attracting more cargo and growing our market share.” 

“We appreciate the cooperative efforts of our labor partners and shipping lines and terminal operators in ensuring that retailers, farmers and manufacturers can rely on our supply chain to move their goods efficiently,” said Dick Marzano, Port of Tacoma commission president and co-chair of the NWSA. “Our region depends on us pulling together.”

Taken together, marine cargo operations in the NWSA’s Tacoma and Seattle harbors support more than 48,000 jobs across the region and provide a critical gateway for the export of Washington state products to Asia.

Photo info: San Pedro, CA port scene – by Kit Case

Sea-Tac Airport Hiring 76 Screeners, Good Pay and Benefits

The Port of Seattle is recruiting and hiring 76 workers to screen Sea-Tac Airport employees who enter the secured areas of the airport. Plans are to launch this new screening procedure this spring. 

Those who are hired for these new positions will receive competitive benefits and an hourly pay rate of $20.37. There will be three full-time shifts available, and the positions will be overtime eligible and represented by International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 9.

Requirements include a high school diploma or GED; one year of operations, security or customer service experience; and the ability to earn a certification within 60 days and pass background checks and drug testing. 

Employee security screening is becoming common at large U.S. airports as a way to enhance security efforts, mitigate risks and protect employees and travelers. 

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Cargo 101: Moving Goods from Ship to Truck to Rail

I recently had the opportunity to tour Seattle’s Terminal 18 and BNSF’s intermodal rail yard as part of the Port 101 educational series offered by the Port of Seattle.  The Cargo 101 class is provided in partnership with: SSA Terminals, BNSF Railway Company, International Longshore and Warehouse Union, and Puget Sound Pilots.  During the 2-hour bus tour of the facilities, speakers representative of their fields described their roles in the movement of cargo from ship to truck to train.

The Ports of Seattle and Tacoma have joined forces to form The Northwest Seaport Alliance. Together, the ports form the third-largest container gateway in North America, provide significant revenue for the state, and support (directly or indirectly) nearly 50,000 jobs.  These jobs include those in surface transportation (with trucking companies and railroads), warehouse work, longshore and dock work, and Port administration jobs.  

Our first stop was Terminal 18, located southwest of Downtown Seattle, on the east side of Harbor Island.  The largest container facility in the Pacific Northwest, Terminal 18 covers 196 acres and includes four vessel berths totaling 4,460 feet in length.  It is operated by SSA Marine. Top trading partners include China/Hong Kong, Japan, Republic of Korea, Canada, and Australia. The top imports (by dollar value) are industrial machinery and computers, electronics, and vehicles and parts.  Our Ports’ top exports (by dollar value) include oil seeds and grains; industrial machinery and computers; prepared vegetables, fruits and nuts; meat and meat products; and seafood.

One player in the supply chain is the marine pilot. During the tour, we heard from one of the 54 current members of Puget Sound Pilots.  The pilots are highly skilled, specialized ship captains, thoroughly familiar with local waters, who help guide commercial vessels safely in and out of harbors, while protecting the local marine environment.  When the pilot boards the ship, he or she becomes (as our speaker described) “the ultimate backseat driver,” directing the ship’s captain and crew through our local waters.  Becoming a Puget Sound Pilot requires at least two to four years of captain experience, followed by passage of a written examination, and evaluation by pilots and other experts in order to be invited into the training program.  The program lasts between one and three years.  In addition, a pilot must earn a federal pilotage endorsement – which requires many months of local bridge experience and the ability to replicate local waterways navigational charts from memory.

From Terminal 18, we headed to BNSF Railway’s SIG (Seattle International Gateway) intermodal facility.  Here, cargo containers are loaded onto railcars for delivery throughout the country.  Containers are loaded and unloaded using fully-electric wide-span cranes.  BNSF was the first North American railway to utilize these zero-emission cranes, and SIG was the cranes’ testing site. Installed as part of the yard’s expansion in 2008, the cranes nearly doubled the yard’s capacity for cargo, making it an important part of the Port’s operations.

The last player in the supply chain we heard from was a member of the Longshore Division of the International Longshore and Warehouse Workers Union’s Local 19.  Put simply, a longshoreman loads and unloads ships’ cargo.  Of course, the job is not simple, nor is building sufficient experience to make a living doing it.  The work is highly skilled and can involve intense physical labor, heavy equipment operation, and working from heights.  Beginners need to be prepared to go long stretches without available work, and almost certainly work another job until they can move up the union ranks.  During our speaker’s first year, he worked one longshore shift. The Union’s website has a wealth of information on the history of the industry and the challenges these workers face (ILWU).  

 

Photo credit: Kristen Wolf (I actually took it on our sailing trip, much better than anything I could get through a bus window).