Longshoremen gear up for harbor deepening

ILA worker overseeing MOL Bravo vessel operation
May 11, 2018 | Cargo Blog

This article appeared in the Winter 2018 issue of JAXPORT Magazine.

Long a true foundation of JAXPORT’s success, Jacksonville’s dedicated longshoremen are elevating training, recruiting millennial talent and strategically upgrading services to mirror the needs of today’s discerning customers. Their perspective on the deepening of the Jacksonville harbor is global, their planning for labor needs is long-term and their message to the community is clear.

ILA Local 1593, Clerks and Checkers

Daniel Teague is President of International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) Local 1593 which provides clerks and checkers to contracted stevedores in Jacksonville. He is a second generation clerk, and the waterfront is close to his heart. He said, “Harbor deepening means jobs, and a big ripple effect for the community. These are great jobs all across the board, from ILA to trucking to distribution centers … and they pay above median wage.”

Although ILA Local 1593 is a local labor pool, Teague said it is important that they think bigger: “The port is part of the global economy. If you don’t have deep water then you aren’t going to be a player.”

He said the checkers have already begun recruiting new people, including millennials with strong technical and computer skills. “With greater channel depth there will be bigger vessels, and the work duration is much longer. Instead of completing a ship in one shift, it may take two or three. We have to have more trained people. Cargo volumes will dictate how many.”

He said the ILA is working with the Jacksonville Maritime Association to find funding for continuing training in the more technical aspects of future jobs.

“Deeper water means more benefits for all—that is our message—the harbor deepening is not just for us, it is for our community,” Teague said.

ILA Local 1408, Stevedores

Vincent Cameron serves as Vice President of the ILA’s Executive Council and is President of ILA Local 1408, the stevedores. He said, “The deeper the water, the larger the ships, the greater the number of boxes, and the greater the impact on the economy. Every box represents a percentage of a job. And they are all welcome here.”

Cameron spoke of the economic benefits. “At the end of the day, Jacksonville is already a port city. Many jobs are directly or indirectly related to the port. The cost of the deepening is a heavy capital outlay upfront, but here’s the important part: If you don’t do it to serve Florida’s growth now, you won’t be able to later.”

ILA Local 1408’s role in preparing for larger ships has been highly collaborative. “We are most definitely doing training on an ongoing basis. The new ships require us to expand our skills. We have to embrace technology, be cross-trained, be versatile.” Cameron said.

According to Cameron, the region has been paving the way for deepening for years by heavily investing in infrastructure. “It is a logistics wonderland for us now with JAXPORT’s new cranes and intermodal rail yard, Cecil Commerce Center and other distribution facilities. We have put so much in place to support this project.”