Interest high in longshore jobs at Tacoma port

Staff writerMarch 19, 2013 

If the number of emails and phone calls to The News Tribune on Monday about the rare opportunity for the public to win a chance to become a Tacoma longshore worker is any indication, then thousands of potential workers will be entering an April 8 longshore jobs lottery.

The newspaper, which published a story Sunday about the jobs lottery, received dozens of phone calls and emails asking for more information.

Postcards with applicants’ vital information must be postmarked by Wednesday midnight for members of the public to be entered in the lottery.

Unfortunately, there isn’t much information available beyond that which appeared in the paper Sunday or in ads in the miscellaneous employment category in The News Tribune’s classified advertising section Monday and today. That same information also appeared on careerbuilder.com.

The union, the International Longshore Workers Union Local 23, and the group of waterfront employers, the Pacific Maritime Association, that are holding the lottery aren’t publicly elaborating on the information that appeared in the ad.

The lottery will be used to select 226 workers who will become “unidentified casuals” at Local 23. Unidentified casuals are at the bottom of the pecking order at the union. They are the last to be dispatched to jobs after all persons higher in the hierarchy have received jobs.

The upside of becoming a casual is that if demand for workers consistently grows, casuals will be elevated to the “B” ranks of the union where they receive benefits and more consistent employment.

Longshore workers now are averaging close to $100,000 in annual compensation.

Of the 226 workers to be chosen by lottery, half will come from the ranks of persons referred by existing union members and waterfront employers. The remainder will come from the public.

The public may enter the lottery by sending a plain, 31/2-inch by 51/2 inch postcard to the address listed in Sunday’s story or in today’s News Tribune classified section. Include the information about yourself listed in that ad.

Two cautions: don’t enclose the card in an envelope or it will be disqualified. And make sure the card is plain on both sides and measures exactly 31/2-by 51/2 inches. Although the advertisement says cards of that size are readily available at the post office or in stationery stores, potential applicants are telling The News Tribune that they can’t find postcards of that dimension.

Postal Service spokesman Ernie Swanson said postcards available there are 31/2 by 5 inches.

A longshore official who declined to be named advised applicants to make their own postcards of that dimension out of heavy, white card stock.

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