Becoming a longshoreman requires physical ability and stamina. It doesn’t require a college degree, but it does call for training in a variety of tasks, certifications, union membership and experience. Quick thinking, avoiding danger amid huge machinery and large
Longshoremen Start Part-Time
Many people who apply for longshoreman positions start first with membership in either the International Longshore and Warehouse Union on the West Coast or the International Longshoreman’s Association on the East Coast. It’s important to have worked on the docks before applying for union membership either as part-time or casual laborers’ for a shipping dock company or a port for a transportation or warehouse company.
To get full-time work, Longshoremen usually apply to one of the unions during an open enrollment period. New recruits are given physical exams and drug testing. Usually a valid driver’s license is required to get a longshoreman’s job. For many longshoremen jobs, a commercial driver’s license is needed. Longshoremen jobs include driving trucks loaded with cargo to and from ships.
Federal State and Safety Laws Guide Longshoremen Jobs
There are federal and state safety laws governing longshoremen’s jobs because of the often-dangerous work that is required. For example, they say crane operators must receive training and testing, either by an employer or a third-party such as a union, and that the training must be verified. Sometimes, crane operators need to be certified with the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators.
Longshoremen Training Programs
Union locals have training programs in how to operate equipment such as different types of cranes as well as top loaders (machines which load or unload cargo from above) and other equipment.
When training programs are completed, workers are tested for their knowledge and skill level and then given periodic reviews to make sure they are operating the equipment safely.
The danger involved in longshoremen jobs is continuous and ever present. When longshoremen are trained they’re made aware of the many physical challenges. As always, there is the knowledge that one simple turn, twist, slip or drop can risk a limb being crushed; a back injury, an arm, a shoulder, a leg or a hand can be permanently damaged.
Those risks are not taken lightly by the unions who watch over, help and monitor the injured longshoremen. The unions know that the first thing that should occur with an injury is the immediate call for medical help.
Longshore Act Protects Injured Longshoremen
The next thing that should occur is the call to an attorney. It doesn’t have to be Garfinkel Schwartz, but it does need to be a call to a very skilled Longshore Act attorney.
Longshore Act knowledge is extremely specific and rare: few attorneys are familiar with the act and if hiring a Longshore Act lawyer, be sure that this is their main practice area..
There is an act, the Longshore and Harbor Worker’s Compensation Act that provides 4 very key benefits to Longshoremen:
- Legal representation that is paid for by the employer or the insurance company
- Medical care by the doctor of choice
- Medical treatment, care, prescriptions and rehabilitation to care for the injured longshoremen
- Compensation—worker’s comp—to provide the financial support to the longshoremen while injured
Knowing what your rights are under the law is key. To learn more, visit the Garfinkel Schwartz YouTube channel where there are many videos explaining the Longshore Act.
Previous Job Training is Helpful
Much of the training longshoremen receive comes on-the-job, but certain skill sets are helpful and necessary in order to be successful. An ability to work quickly and efficiently is characteristic of longshoremen, as is very good to excellent physical strength and fitness and an ability to grasp shipping terminology and lingo. Longshoremen are trained in maritime rules and regulations related to dock work; so prior knowledge of those laws is always helpful.
Many Longshoreman have had prior jobs that require similar skills in other jobs in other fields. They may have driven a truck before or operated a crane in a warehouse. So the learning curve for those workers may be shorter. For others, it may take several years before they can work their way up from casual dockworker to entry into the union to simple tasks on the dock to more complex work.
The Future of Longshoremen Jobs
Longshoremen as a whole have faced challenges in the field over the centuries with the mechanization of ships, cargo movement and mechanical equipment eliminating many jobs. Longshoremen are the manpower, the important positions on shore and on ships.
Automation of the cargo shipment process, interlocking containers are stowed or discharged by giant shore side cranes located in within each deep sea ports or docks. Cranes use automatic hook on and hook release devices where longshoremen used to do the jobs.
What will not change is the necessity for longshoremen who provide constant communication, management, organization and planning of United States imports and exports to our nation’s shores.