Thursday, May 13, 2010

Longview Looking for Crane Operators

The Port of Longview, Washington is looking for a few good men or women – longshore men or women, that is.

The port has seen a 35 percent increase in ship calls during the first quarter and the additional cargo, which, along with attrition in the 190-member International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 21 that covers Longview, has created the need for about 10 new union crane operator positions. With cargo volumes throughout the West Coast still down, and ILWU ranks full just about everywhere, Longview's need for additional union workers is something of a rarity.

However, before Local 21 can seek applications for the positions from the public, last done about five years ago, they must seek ILWU members at other locals who may be willing to fill the positions. An open public call for union employment would also have to be approved by the Pacific Maritime Association, the organization that negotiates labor contracts with the ILWU on behalf of the shipping and terminal operator companies.

Crane positions, considered as skilled wage positions within the union, are some of the most sought after and highest paid in the ILWU depending on the type of crane. According to the PMA, the average annual salary for a Longview longshore worker in 2009 was $83,270.

Local 21 currently has about 25 crane operators of various classifications, but this number is down sharply from last year, which saw the retirement of 13 members that were classified as crane operators.