Clerical Workers in Shipping

Over the past few months there has been a lot of talk about the Unions for clerical workers who deal with international container shipping on the west coast. The ILWU clerical workers were striking and threatening to strike if a new contract was not agreed upon between them and both large ocean carriers terminal operations management of the west coast ports. They were specifically looking to keep their jobs in the US instead of outsourcing to another country. The problem is that these people are not as well known in the international shipping community. It is not like stevedores or freight forwarders that you hear about every day.

The shipping clerks are located in offices all through out the ports and handle many aspects of getting cargo in and out in a timely manner. They allow for people to rely on quoted transit times and make sure all cargo is paid for before picked up. They are the people that drayage truckers will deal with to drop off and pick up shipping containers and are the first line of customer service for people at the ports. Many of the people in their positions are local to the area and the port is their livelihood which is why there are concerns about outsourcing some of these positions. Since so much can be done online now, it is hard for major corporations to see beyond the money they can save by out sourcing.

The unions have since come to terms with management and have a new contract that will satisfy both sides. The clerical workers are the people many of us deal with on a daily basis in the shipping industry. It is a relief that shipping lines value their services enough to keep their jobs in the US.