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WSJ: Unions struggle but the Longshoremen thrive

I'm always fascinated with transformations, especially successful ones. The front page the the WSJ this morning has an interesting piece on the Longshoremen. While other unions struggle, the Longshoremen have actually thrived.

Longshoremen Keep Global Wind at Their Backs [WSJ, 7.26.2006]
While other groups of union workers suffer, the longshoremen are thriving as their unions guard their position at the chokepoint of global trade and turn technological change to their advantage.

Here is what we call the 'nut' graph:

The longshoremen are thriving. The 100,000 members of the two longshoremen unions handle nearly every product or shipping container that enters or leaves a U.S. port. They usually get compensated even for those they don't touch. With average salaries topping $120,000 a year, longshoremen are the highest-paid blue-collar workers in the U.S., according to labor experts.

Over the past century, work on the docks has been transformed by such changes as the move to put cargo in standard-size containers and high-tech tracking systems. But the longshoremen's unions -- the International Longshoremen's Association on the East and Gulf coasts and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union on the West Coast -- have expanded their power. That is partly because the unions aggressively guard their position at the chokepoint of global trade. They have also shrewdly turned technological change to their advantage and formed powerful alliances with affiliated unions, such as the truckers who carry goods to and from docks.

Posted by Christopher Dorobek on Jul 26, 2006 at 12:15 PM


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