Men's Breakfast Report Archive

Men's Breakfast, February 11, 2017

The Men’s Breakfast Group met Saturday, February 11th with Santos Aluiso, President of the Longshoreman’s Union local.  Santos was raised in Freeport.  His family has had a long history of involvement with the waterfront.  His father, grandfather and several other relatives have been longshoremen.  He went off to college after high school.  He returned to the docks during the summer after his freshman year and never went back to college.  He has worked as a longshoreman for over twenty years and has been elected president of the local union.

The local longshoreman’s union has over a hundred members.  One becomes a member of the union after working 300 hours as a longshoreman.  A person must work 1000 hours in a year to receive the benefits of the union.  Longshoreman’s work is necessarily part time.  Longshoremen work when a ship comes in and do not work if there is no ship.  Years ago, longshoremen’s work was very physical and in some places it still is.  For example, it is still necessary in some cases to stack 100 pound bags of rice in the hold of a ship.  Freeport, however, does very little of this.  Today most of the cargo is handled in containers so the major work is done by crane operators putting containers on and off the ship and drivers moving the containers around and to the customers.  The big new port operation is the rollon-rolloff ships for moving automobiles and other equipment around the world.  The port ships SUVs made in Arlington to the Middle East and imports small cars from Asia.  These are driven onto the ship or off the ship as needed.  A large number of driver longshoremen are required to do this, but work only when the ship is in.  A large number of retirees from the chemical industry have taken up this work as a good retirement job.

The union does have a retirement plan for its members.  Members retired before 1996 receive a traditional pension but later employees are under a 401(k) plan where four dollars per hour is put into their account. 

The union is an international union with locals in each of the ports and headquarters in New Jersey.  Dues are five percent of the pay and these pay for the activities of the union.  The union has a lobbyist in Washington but does not have a lobbyist in Austin.  The union acts as an employment agency for its members.   The longshoremen do not work directly for the port but work for stevedoring companies that contract with the ships.   Some locals have their officers paid full time by the union, but the Freeport local does not pay its officers a full wage,  Santos works the ships like all the other members as well as being president. 

The men had an interesting discussion and a good breakfast.  The next meeting will be Saturday, March 11th.