Longshoremen working on or near the Great Lakes as well as the rivers and waterways serving our regional trade routes look to the International Longshoremen’s Association, AFL-CIO to provide guidance and protection. The ILA is the largest union of maritime workers in North America, representing upwards of 65,000 longshoremen in the Great Lakes areas as well as on both the Eastern seaboard, the Gulf Coast, and other parts of the country as well as eastern Canada. In fact, the ILA began back in 1892 serving longshoremen in the Great Lakes area and grew into the huge organization that it is today.
International Longshoremen’s Association Issues Quarterly Safety Bulletin Today
Today, the ILA issued its quarterly safety bulletin, “Be Careful Out There!” online in a downloadable .pdf format. In this issue, container weights were discussed – what the Code of Federal Regulations requires and what the Occupational Safety and Health Administration mandates for the marine cargo handling industry. Also included within the bulletin, the sad news that two ILA members had been killed while working on the job.
Longshoremen Are Protected By Special Laws Passed Just for Them
If you work on the docks, in what federal law considers to be “maritime employment,” then you may be protected by the federal Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act. This law would be the primary legal remedy in the event of a serious injury or death while working on the job – not state workers’ compensation, not a private claim against the company.
The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act covers workers who are loading or unloading vessels, or working on the repair or upkeep of a vessel, while in a terminal or on a dock, wharf, pier, etc. The LHWCA has its own set of rules and procedures, its own version of a trial proceeding, and its own set of benefits for medical needs, rehab therapy, disability payments, and more.
Unions and Attorneys Standing Up for Injured Longshoremen / Maritime Workers
The ILA works hard to protect workers with maritime jobs. It’s dangerous work, what longshoremen do. Union oversight of safety issues, as seen in the quarterly bulletin, goes a long way to keeping workers safe on vessels and piers, etc. However, when injuries occur, workers may need the advocacy of both their ILA as well as their personal injury attorney in order to get justice.
For many longshoremen, having legal counsel that are versed not only in the LHWCA but other state and federal injury laws and standard workers’ compensation statutes can be extremely important to insure they receive proper coverage and consideration for themselves and their families. Unions have been vital to the protection of American workers, as have plaintiffs’ attorneys in courtrooms across this country.
It’s sad but true that even with both these arms of justice crusading for the working person, workplace safety remains a major problem in the United States today because it’s all too often considered too costly to protect the worker by the employer whose loyalty is to his or her bottom line profit.