An Economic Engine for America

As a key link between the U.S. and Asia, West Coast ports are essential to the stability and growth of the U.S. economy, supporting industrial, retail, and agricultural sectors throughout the country. West Coast ports are also critical to the vitality of the state-wide economies in which they are located, accounting for a significant portion of jobs and gross state product in California, Oregon and Washington.

Coastwide Numbers

Total Revenue Tonnage

This graph shows the overall rise in cargo movement during the past 20 years, and includes all cargo types.

Container TEUs — Loaded

Container traffic accounts for roughly three-quarters of all West Coast cargo movement. This chart shows growth over time.

Registered Work Force

Although workforce totals fell as a result of the recession, employment remains well above 2002 levels.

Container TEUs — Total

This graph is similar to the loaded container total, but also includes those containers without cargo.

Total Wages Paid

This total reflects wages paid to longshore workers, clerks and foreman at all West Coast ports — nearly $2 billion per year.

Average Annual Earnings

This graph shows average compensation for full-time workers in each of the three major job categories.

Benefits Cost — Total

ILWU workers receive a comprehensive benefits package that includes fully paid health care, pension, 401(k), vacation & other benefits.

Benefits Costs — Per Registrant

Based on the number of active registrants, this graph looks at the employers’ cost of benefits on a per-worker basis.

Ports by Region

PACIFIC NORTHWEST:
WASHINGTON

Region Statistics

TEUs per year:
2,659,202

Total Tonnage (tons):
57,940,229

% of Coast Tonnage:
15.3%

Registered workers:
2,362

Total Wages Paid:
$288,476,000

PACIFIC NORTHWEST:
OREGON & COLUMBIA RIVER

Region Statistics

TEUs per year:
6,267

Total Tonnage (tons):
36,955,852

% of Coast Tonnage:
9.6%

Registered workers:
1,001

Total Wages Paid:
$104,196,000

NORTHERN CALIFORNIA

Region Statistics

TEUs per year:
1,862,747

Total Tonnage (tons):
44,616,069

% of Coast Tonnage:
11.8%

Registered workers:
1,959

Total Wages Paid:
$203,032,000

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

Region Statistics

TEUs per year:
12,452,595

Total Tonnage (tons):
240,286,308

% of Coast Tonnage:
63.3%

Registered workers:
9,773

Total Wages Paid:
$1,349,926,000

The Workforce

The Longshore Division of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) represents waterfront employees on the U.S. and Canadian Pacific Coast, Hawaii, and Alaska. Nearly 15,000 ILWU workers are employed at West Coast ports.

Longshore workers handle the loading and unloading of ships and barges, stuff and unstuff certain containers, handle lines, maintain stevedoring gear and perform many other activities. The Clerks process the cargo information for delivery and shipment. Walking bosses or Foremen are in charge of the loading and unloading operation and reporting to the stevedoring company superintendent.

PMA and ILWU collaborate on both coast-wide and local safety initiatives, resulting in record low accident rates in 2018.

The ILWU was formed in 1937, under the leadership of Harry Bridges, out of District 38 of the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA). James “Jimmy” R. Herman succeeded Harry Bridges in 1977 and served as the second president of the ILWU until 1991. Recent presidents include David Arian (1991-1994), Brian McWilliams (1994-2000), and James Spinosa (2000-2006).

In the summer of 2018, the ILWU held elections for key positions, including to replace retiring longtime President Bob McEllrath. The entire membership – approximately 42,000 workers spanning 60 locals in California, Oregon, Washington, Hawaii, and Alaska – participated. Official results were announced in October of 2018, with William E. Adams elected as President.