Responses from the Community: Why I Love Being a Longshoreman

We would sincerely like to thank Eva, Juan, Rocquel, Veronica, Jennifer and April for sharing their stories. All of these individuals participated in our blog contest, “Why I Love Being a Longshoreman/woman” and shared some amazing comments. Thank you all!

Eva’s Story
I became a Casual Longshoreman 7 years ago. Having this job gave me the opportunity to raise my children, grandchildren, and to gracefully care for each of my parents during the last years of their lives. I can work at night when my family is asleep, and they don’t need to miss me. I am usually home before my kids arrive from school and when my husband comes home from work! I pick up a job or I can leave it. It is entirely up to me! That is why I love being a Longshoreman.

Juan’s Story
I love being a longshoreman because I’m a Navy vet, and being around the different ports and ships, along with the smell of that salty ocean air is great… I couldn’t ask for a better work environment. I also live in Wilmington so my commute to any of the ports is always under 15 minutes, and I never have to be stuck in traffic on the freeway. Combine all of that with what I get paid in today’s hard economic times and it’s easy to see and appreciate how blessed I really am.

Rocquel’s Story
I love being a part of an organization that takes pride in it’s own existence. There is a sense of absolute unity because of that pride, which in turn gives you a sense of purpose and importance. Also I love the labor, the hard-work, and the mechanical beauty of the docks.

Veronica’s Story
I’m proud to be a female longshoreman! I love watching peoples reactions when they ask “so what do you do?” People are so intrigued when I explain how much hard and dangerous work goes into every single container that we are responsible for getting our goods here from other countries. I wear my ILWU jacket everywhere!! Love to represent our union. It feels great to see others in their apparel and to say hi to a brother or sister. We are many, but all connected to a family of unionism and that’s what I love.

Jennifer’s Story
I have two perspectives being a casual longshoreman for the last 7 years, and being married to a longshoreman.

Just to name a few things this job has done for me, it has given me a a feeling of peace of mind, security, strength, diversity, unity, support, and a break from the norm. Peace of mind mostly comes from our insurance (through my husband). I think we have one of the best health insurance plans available, that gift alone is worth more than words can say. I pray nothing catastrophic (health-wise) ever happens to any of my family members, but at least I know we have insurance, and it’s available just in case.

Security comes from my husband’s end too. We have a regular paycheck every week, and I know it’s not guaranteed, but knowing that we’ll have money in our bank account every Thursday is a blessing. Strength, unity, and support come from being a member of one of the strongest unions in the country. Anyone would give their left arm to be a part of this organization. And we’ve seen in the past what this union can do and continues to do for us and for others.

Diversity and a break from the norm comes from me. Being a casual longshoreman is a huge break from being a stay-at-home mom. Getting out of my daily life and interacting with a diverse group of people, getting to see the same friends at the hall, and then going to do a different job every time I work is a major treat for me. Every night when our family gives thanks before dinner, one of the things we always give thanks for is Daddy’s job, and hopefully one day, Mommy’s job will be included too.

April’s Story
I am happily married to a Longshoreman!!! I am very thankful that he has such a great job! My husband works the hoot and he is able to be with the kids and I as much as possible. He is able to go to every practice and game. He’s able to make every school event. He’s able to help our kids with their homework, eat dinner with them, get them ready for bed, and put them to bed. He has the flexibility to work the days he wants and take off the ones he doesn’t. He gets to do different things every day. He has met a lot of great people – people that we now call family. He also belongs to a large family! I’ve never seen my husband as happy with his job as he is right now. He’s had to work some awful jobs to help support this family and I’m grateful that he’s found a job that he enjoys!

[Image credit: Rennett Stowe]

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About the Author

Alejandra Gutierrez Alex is the new Social Media Specialist for the ILWU Credit Union. She's a 'nerd' at heart who enjoys community building. Her obsessions: baked goods and old mariachi ballads.