“It’s no secret that a longshoremen with decent seniority who applies himself or herself may earn in excess of $100,000 per year. In addition, millions of dollars are spent annually throughout the Charleston health care system as a result of the employer sponsored health care programs,” Local 1422 President Kenny Riley said from Africa last weekend.
The local union has some 800 members, but about 500 others have work permits and regularly work the docks. Nearly 1,000 retirees, dependents and beneficiaries receive benefits on a monthly basis through the union’s retirement plan, Riley said.
“With all that being said, it’s not hard to make the case that ILA jobs promote an economic boost to the local economy and are valuable jobs within the African American community,” Riley said. “With up to six weeks paid vacation, 16 paid holidays and container royalty payments annually, the benefits are worth millions in spending power.”
And that worth is going to increase as well. Spurred by the success of the inland facility at Greer near Greenville, the SCPA April 20 announced it hopes to build a second inland port facility in Dillon near Florence. And by 2020, bigger ships coming through the Panama Canal and into Charleston’s deepened harbor translates into increased volumes of cargo. The union’s approximately 800 members log about 1.5 million man-hours at a base salary of $32 per hour.
“We anticipate that the volumes will continue to increase,” Riley said. “Soon Charleston will become the deepest port in the south. This will allow the Port of Charleston to handle the larger vessels that already have begun transiting the new locks at the Panama Canal. Charleston is poised to capitalize on these services,” Riley said.