A longshoreman or a stevedore is a dock worker who earns his income at a port. The name longshoreman has its origins in the phrase “man along the shore”. In the old days, day laborers used to roam the docks or shore in search of work. It was difficult to find any kind of consistent work, especially if a person did not have any good skills.

There are many different kinds of work a longshoreman can find on the dock. The basic task is moving goods from one place to another. It could be from a ship to the dock, or from the dock to a storage warehouse on the port. Nowadays, there is less of manual work required and more of skilled. A person who can operate a crane can do the work of tens of workers in one go. Similarly, skilled electricians, welders and repairmen are in high demand. In addition to this, a person who has a degree in logistics can earn really high wages.

A person who is looking to start working as a longshoreman typically can earn a starting pay of $18 per hour. In the beginning, it is very difficult to find consistent work. It may take a person a few visits to the dock to get something assigned to him. Even after that, there is no guarantee that he will get the same type of work again. The work assignment is based on seniority. Typically, a person who is just starting to look for work at the dock will be a casual worker. Once he establishes himself a little, he will be officially recognized as a casual longshoreman. After that, he may get a chance to apply for a union membership. Being a part of a union is not easy and may take some effort, but once a longshoreman is a part of a union, his chances of getting consistent work that pays well increases. After becoming a union member, a longshoreman’s pay is determined by his seniority, or how long he has been a member. A senior longshoreman can earn salary that is as high as $120,000 per year.

Longshoreman Unions are very powerful organizations and they strive to protect the needs of their members. They fight to ensure that the wages and benefits of their members are protected. There have been instances where a strike called by a longshoreman union has completely shut down all port trade activities. Both the east coast and west coast have unions which are more powerful in their respective locations. It is very important for a person who is looking to be a longshoreman to be a part of one of these organizations. The benefits that a longshoreman gets include bonuses and great health care insurance.

Although a longshoreman is well paid compared to people doing similar jobs, there are several hazards associated with this type of work. A dock has several tripping hazards like cables and ropes which can cause accidents. Several chemical and bio hazardous materials need to be moved. A spill or a leak may lead to injuries or loss of life. A lot of the work is pure manual labor. If proper lifting procedures are not followed, it could lead to permanent back injuries. With so many cranes being used, there is always a chance of some of the cargo falling due to equipment failure or operator errors. There is continuous noise at docks – if proper precaution is not taken, it could lead to permanent hearing loss. With so much oil and fuel being used at the docks, there is always a fire hazard. A ship might dock at the port at any time of the day or night. Because of this, longshoremen might be required to work at unconventional hours. In the short run, this may lead to carelessness, causing accidents and injuries. In the long run, this may lead to anxiety and stress for the worker.

As is apparent, the life of a longshoreman is not easy. He may earn a good wage and may be able to put his children through college, but the type of work is equally challenging. Without a longshoreman, the port trade industry would not be able to grow or survive or reach a stage where it is today.