The West Coast Longshore Contract

The West Coast Longshore Contract

Deliver us from our friends! They claim to know better what is good for the longshoremen than the Union does. Nothing is more infuriating, particularly when the friend is as generally knowledgeable as Harvey Swados. In this instance, however, it is clear he is looking at the West Coast longshore situation with a jaundiced eye and without benefit of all the facts.

What one misses most in his critique is any summary of the benefits which the longshoremen derive from the Mechanization and Modernization Plan. We do not object to anyone’s finding fault with the Plan, but we do object to stressing the faults without mentioning the virtues, particularly when they are important and unique.

No one would know from reading the Swados article that a registered longshoreman, a member of the Union, now has the most complete job protection of any worker in America, particularly against the displacing effects of “automation”: He cannot be laid off, and practically no one is ever fired; he is guaranteed approximately $100 a week even if work opportunity falls; he can retire as early as 62 with a monthly income of $220; if he does not retire until age 65 he receives $7,920 from the Fund; and he gets the same full medical coverage for himself and his family after retirement as before. When workers everywhere are being laid off because of automation, it seems a substantial victory that no longshoremen are unemployed and none will be, short of the bottom dropping out of shipping.