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Home » Maritime Law Terms and Definitions » What is a Longshoreman

What is a Longshoreman?

longshoremen meeting to create maritime strategy

A person that works in the maritime industry that loads and unloads cargo onto ships at a dock or port is known as a longshoreman. Also known as dockers or dock workers, longshoremen are an essential component of the workforce in the shipping and receiving industry.

Let’s dive more into what is a longshoreman to better understand the job and why it’s so important and high in demand. 

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How to Get a Longshoreman Job

Understanding what’s required of a longshore worker is the first step if you believe this is the career for you. You can start working when you turn 18 and you don’t need a college degree. However, a current driver’s license is required, and you have to do the following:

Step 1: Obtain a Transportation Worker ID Card

To work on a dock, you must carry a TWIC card confirming your credentials. You can get this card by scheduling an appointment with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and make sure you bring your license and be prepared to pay a fee.

Step 2: Become an ILWU Member 

closeup of docked ship and maritime workers on ramp

Although some unions serve longshoremen in other areas, the ILWU serves those along the West Coast. Keep in mind that you may have to wait many months, or even years, for an open enrollment period during which you can apply.

Step 3: Get as Much Experience as Possible

If you gain enough experience, you’ll achieve an “identified casual” status. This will require a high level of persistence on your part, though. While you still won’t be a union member, it does give you a higher status and therefore increases your chances of getting hired for more shift assignments.

Step 4: Become an Official Union Member

Once you become an ILWU member and get experience, you’re a real longshoreman who is entitled to the benefits that membership comes with. Getting shifts becomes less stressful and you’ll receive health insurance coverage, holidays, sick days, and paid vacations. 

Something worth noting is that people typically pursue careers as longshoremen for high salaries and advantages. However, not everyone should engage in such arduous work. You should definitely make sure you’re physically capable of working as a longshoreman before you begin the application process. 

What is a Longshoreman’s Salary in Louisiana?

A Louisiana longshoreman’s salary can vary widely depending on many important factors, including education, certifications, additional skills, and the number of years you have spent in your profession. When estimating

  • An entry-level Longshoreman with less than 1-year experience can earn an average total compensation (including tips, bonus, and overtime pay) of $20.91
  • An early career Longshoreman with 1-4 years of experience can earn an average total compensation of $24.39
  • A mid-career Longshoreman with 5-9 years of experience can earn around $31.52
  • An experienced Longshoreman with 10-19 years of experience may earn an average total compensation of $43.46
  • In their later career (20 years and higher), employees have the chance to earn an average total compensation of $40.  

Longshoreman Work Hours 

The work longshoremen do is done outside in all types of weather conditions. And although dock workers frequently work nights, weekends, and holidays, shifts tend to be throughout the day.

Furthermore, a longshoreman’s hours are usually determined by shipping or dock schedules. But keep in mind that international sea freight is a round-the-clock business, meaning a longshoreman can be needed at any time of the day or night.

Differences Between Casual & Permanent Workers

In most maritime markets, there are two categories of longshoremen—members of permanent loading teams, and those who are hired as needed for certain projects. 

The latter is usually referred to as “casual workers,” and have little to no job security. They can apply in person when ships arrive if there’s a need for more hands.

Discover Your Rights & Options After a Maritime Injury

Gordon McKernan, lead attorney and owner of Gordon McKernan Injury Attorneys

Sadly, each year the risks associated with this job result in significant injury or even wrongful death for thousands of people. If you’re a longshoreman that’s been injured, or you know one that was involved in a wrongful death, you can count on  Gordon McKernan Injury Attorneys to have your back because we’ve been practicing maritime law in Louisiana for many years!

For a free consultation and legal options when it comes to your case, you can call us at 225.888.888. Plus, you owe us nothing if we don’t win your case!

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