Thousands of women are crowding employment offices and union halls near the Los Angeles and Long Beach harbors to vie for 350 part-time dockworker jobs set aside for women as part of a settlement of a decade-old discrimination lawsuit.
State employment and shipping industry officials said Monday they had run out of 2,500 application cards and were printing as many as 4,000 additional cards to be made available today at seven locations.
“The more applicants the merrier,” said Vince Lamaestra, labor relations administrator for the Pacific Maritime Assn., which represents the ports’ terminal operators.
Lamaestra’s attitude belies years of acrimony over employment opportunities, particularly for women, on the docks of what, in the case of Los Angeles, is now the nation’s busiest harbor.
The controversy began in 1980 when a handful of women, most of them daughters of longshoremen, filed a class-action lawsuit to protest hiring practices for dock clerks. The suit, expanded to include the hiring of women as longshore workers, was settled in 1982 by agreement among the plaintiffs who sued the maritime association and the International Longshoremen’s and Warehousemen’s Union, Local 13.
The settlement, which was last modified in March, requires that women be hired to fill 35% of part-time dockworker jobs and 17.5% of the full-time dock work force.
This month’s hiring of 350 women will bring the number of part-time, or “casual,” workers in the harbor area to nearly 1,500. The part-time employees earn $14 an hour and work when there are not enough full-time laborers available on the docks.
The positions will be filled in a June 22 lottery among qualified applicants.
While the work is sporadic, part-timers can earn raises as they build up their hours. They also enhance their chances to become full-time dockworkers, whose salaries average $50,000 a year, plus benefits.
Six years ago, a similar drawing for 350 dock jobs drew more than 40,000 men and women who lined up for miles to get a shot at high-paying, full-time jobs at the Los Angeles and Long Beach harbors.
Unlike the 1984 lottery, which drew applicants from as far away as New York, this month’s drawing has been planned to avoid unruly crowds and long lines. In 1984, for example, the applications all were made available at one location--a San Pedro drive-in theater--resulting in a line of cars that stretched 10 miles.
“It was madness. No one wants to go through anything like that again,” said Lamaestra.
The request cards for employment are available at three state Employment Development Department offices: 23820 S. Avalon Blvd., Carson; 1313 Pine Ave., Long Beach, and 1940 N. Bullis Road, Compton.
They also are available at the Pacific Maritime Assn. office, 100 W. Broadway, Suite 3000, Long Beach; and three Wilmington locations: the Longshore Casual Hall, 721 N. Broad Ave.; the Longshore Dispatch Hall, 343 N. Broad Ave., and the Marine Clerks Dispatch Hall, 707 W. C St.
The cards must be returned to one of the three EDD offices by 3 p.m. Thursday.
Applicants must be at least 18 years old. They must read and write English and pass both a physical examination and a strength and agility test. A drug and alcohol screening test also will be given to all applicants.
The drawing for openings will be held at the union’s business office, 221 W. C St., Wilmington.