What is a longshoreman?
A longshoreman is a worker who loads and unloads freight from cargo ships to docks. They have also been called stevedores. Unlike seamen, longshoremen are not covered for workplace injuries under the Jones Act. They are covered by the Federal Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA). Early on, the definition of seamen was broad enough to include stevedores. In a U.S. Supreme Court case, International Stevedoring Co. v. Haverty, 272 U.S. 50 (1926), the Court felt that the legislation had not meant to leave stevedores (longshoremen) out of the coverage afforded seamen. Within a year of the opinion, Congress decided to enact the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act and drew a line between seamen and longshoremen when dealing with damages for injuries, compensation for lost wages, medical expenses, vocational rehabilitation services and survivor’s benefits. Longshoremen are sometimes unionized, and there are a few unions including the International Longshoremen’s Association, part of the AFL-CIO and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union. Their duties can vary and include crane operators used to unload containers and truck drivers that move containers around the port. There are longshoremen hired on a project basis rather than as part of a long-term crew. They need to be trained to use a variety of heavy machinery and equipment; they must learn how to handle hazardous materials and often work in harsh weather conditions for long periods of time.