Thursday, February 12, 2015

West Coast Longshoreman

These first 4 pics are screen pics from the Marine Traffic App. This one shows Three container ships entering the Strait of Juan De Fuca from the Pacific headed for the ports of Seattle and Tacoma

The Big ships are always the Green icons. Here two are underway South  on Puget Sound and One, the little square one, indicates a anchored container ship at Whidby Island. The first time, since we have been here, that it was so crowded the big ships used the protected anchorage at Whidby Island.

6 container ships are in the port waiting to be unloaded and 3 more anchored out around Elliot Bay with 2 more anchored just behind Blake Island waiting.

Port of Tacoma just south of Seattle has 7 container ships docked at the port and 6 anchored out waiting. 

They have a huge presence in Elliot Bay this one anchored just North of Elliot Bay Marina.

Two over in the Lee of West Seattle.

Gives the fuel barge plenty of time to get them all re-fueled

6 container ships in the Port of Seattle slowly being unloaded but a 4 day work stoppage may begin tomorrow!

This couple live aboard and spend 6 months here and 6 months at Shillshole, they spend the off season here since they can just walk to work, Bell Harbor Marina does not allow monthly moorings during the Season so they return to Shillshole

Looking south over Bell Harbor marina to ward the Port of Seattle

Here you can see the end of the Crane that lifts the containers but here I think they are using it to lift some oil boom that they put in the water around the ships to contain possible oil spills. 

They load them on tucks and trains pretty much the same way.

The huge fork lifts on the left stay busy moving containers to all parts of the yard.

Specialized "Gangs" secure outgoing  containers on the ships.

These Crane operators have a great view everyday.

They could be waiting for weeks to unload, but at least they have a great view!

West Coast Longshoreman

Watching the evening news a few nights ago I was surprised to hear during a story about the recent West Coast Longshoreman negotiations with the Pacific Mariners Association, that the Port of Seattle Longshoreman earn $170,000 a year. I immediately wondered if I had heard the amount correctly and if so would that includes their benefits package? At first thought I figured the unions must be pretty strong up here for a fork lift driver to make that kind of money. Of course there are all sorts of jobs on the docks of a busy Container Port, the most visible being the giant Crane Operators,  who I am sure would earn that kind of money. Searching the internet was simple enough since this is a daily concern on the West Coast and across the nation.
The negotiations have lasted over 4 months so far and the slow downs are impacting all areas of the local and national commerce. People are crying help from congress to do something to get things restarted and back to normal. The International Longshoreman and Warehouse Union ILWU represents the dock workers, and The Pacific Maritime Association represent the ship owners and the shipping business in the ports. The entire West Coast is affected:  "The negotiations cover 29 U.S. West Coast ports, including all the major West Coast container ports — Los Angeles, Long Beach, Oakland, Portland, Seattle and Tacoma. It does not cover ports in Canada or those on the U.S. East and Gulf coasts, the main reason why shippers are seeking refuge at those ports."
If I understand it right the Longshoreman have been slowing down operations at ports to put pressure on the PMA to get a new contract signed. The PMA have recently shown their resolve by just shutting the whole thing down for a couple of days to demonstrate what they are willing to do to get the contract done. This website provides some insight but I am sure only those guys at the top of the food chain know exactly what the real negotiating points are.
There are only so many anchorages where you can put a large container ship and most of those are full, so full in fact that they have been anchoring out in some of the protected areas around Whidby Island to the North of Seattle as you can see from the pics above. Usually a container ship turn around is less than 48 hours, but they are anchored out for a week or longer now and it is really starting to put a crimp on lots of business dependent on the local ports.
Regarding How much Longshoreman earn i am not surprised to see there is a wide range but the Mean seems to be around $137,000 plus a benefits package that includes sick leave, vacation, pension, and the highest quality health insurance for about $80,000 per person. So the total package pushes it to over $200K for those that have been in the stream for a while. Pretty darn good for Skilled Labor! see:

I now know why The Seattle Seahawks have the loudest and most intense fan base in the NFL, all these Longshoreman can afford Season Tickets!

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