How to Become a Longshoreman
You can go to the docks near where you live and talk to the stevedore (the dock manager) of a shipping company and ask if the company is hiring. If it is, he probably will direct you to the hiring hall of the local chapter of the Longshoreman’s Union. It’s good to know where the local chapters are and which union represents workers in your area.
There usually is a local in each major port area. Florida, for example, has 11 locals of the International Longshoreman’s Association all along the coast.
Start With the Union
You also can start looking for a job by going to the union hall first and applying for a union card. Often, workers begin as “casual” laborers who are called to work as needed. The work is sporadic and short-term and depends on whether fill-ins are needed to supplement the work of full-time union members.
Your experience will gradually enable you to be on “identified casual” status which puts you in line for a full-time employment when jobs become available. When union membership is expanding due to job demand, the local will distribute applications, and you’re eligible for full-fledged longshoreman status with union benefits.
Meet Minimum Requirements
Of course, anyone who works on the docks will have to meet minimum requirements of passing drug tests and having the physical ability to do the job, but the more hours you’ve worked as a casual laborer, the better when it comes to obtaining full-time employment. And, if you’ve been around the docks, you’ve probably developed relationships with co-workers and other union members and that can only help.
Check Your Local Union Hall
These are general guidelines about how to become a longshoreman that are true for most areas, but it’s good idea to check your local union hall to find out the specific hiring methods it uses.
What You’ll Need
If you’re serious about making longshoreman’s work a career, all the education, certifications or licenses you can obtain before starting this process will be important. You will need a high school diploma. Even in high school, you can begin mapping out a career plan. In some states, high schools vocational offer programs or courses related to longshoremen’s work. Some colleges near coastal areas have programs and one-year certification courses in maritime science.
Commercial Driver’s License
Obtaining a commercial driver’s license can be important if you end up driving vehicles on the dock. In short, research the jobs you might be doing, learn what you need to know about working at a port, develop as many skills as you can that relate to longshoremen’s work, talk to the experts who area already doing the work, prepare a resume, and prepare to work hard to reach your goal.