Longshoreman - Explained
Who are the Longshoremen?
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Table of ContentsWhat is a Longshoreman?What does it mean to be a Longshoreman?Academic Research on the Longshoremen
What is a Longshoreman?
A longshoreman refers to an employed person on the port wharves who is charged with loading and offloading vessels, and may also sort and distribute cargo as needed for shipping and processing. In other words, longshoremen have the role of loading and unloading freight from cargo ships to docks. The longshoreman synchronizes his efforts with warehouses or companies that engage in cargo transportation like trucking companies. Longshoremen are represented by the International Longshoremens Association (ILA) which is one of the longest serving labor unions in the United States. ILA has about 200 local affiliates within its member areas including the East Coast, Canada, Puerto Rico, Great Lakes, and the Gulf Coast.
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What does it mean to be a Longshoreman?
The key roles of a longshoreman include operating complex loading equipment like forklifts and cranes. A longshoreman might use such machinery to move large cargo containers which are used to store cargo safely on large ships. When a cargo shipment arrives at the port rail or truck, it is the role of the longshoreman to unload the containers, organize, and load them onto the ship. Once the cargo reaches a distraction port, another longshoreman unloads the containers and transfers them to a truck where they can be transported to the next destination. A longshoreman may also have overlapping duties with the crew of a cargo ship. For instance, a longshoreman may spend his days working on the ship, although in most days he would be unloading the cargo. The history of ILA dates back to the colonial period when ships carrying goods from Europe began arriving in the United States. Initially, the longshoremen that came with the ship engaged in different full-time occupations but left their jobs to unload the awaited and desperately needed supplies without expecting any compensation. As the country began developing a fledgling economy, ships increase which made longshore work a full-time occupation. Over time, many immigrants congregated in the American cities, hoping to secure jobs, particularly along the coast where bulky duties were performed. As a result, the number of professional longshoremen grew, and by the early 19th century, longshoremen populated North Atlantic. All the longshoremen were subjected to very poor working conditions as well as pitiful wages. With the rampant exploitation, the longshoremen began organizing themselves by themed-century. In 1864, the first union of modern longshoremen was formed at the New York port, known as the Longshoremens Union Protective Association (LUPA). In the later 19th century, major unions were battling themselves, and a new union was shaping itself. Various unions like LUPA and Knights of Labor fought against each other. In the end, most of the unions were broken. It was during this time, in 1877, Dan Keefe, an Irish tugboat worker, formed the first local association which would later be known as International Longshoremens Association (ILA). In 1953, states like New York and New Jersey joined an interstate compact, with the approval of the Congress. This resulted in the establishment of the Waterfront Commission that would later regulate ILA. The commissions main role is to prevent individuals with criminal records from holding positions within the union.