200-plus longshore jobs available in Tacoma

TACOMA, Wash. (AP) - Tacoma's Longshore Union is quietly opening up more than 200 jobs to the public this week.

The union will conduct a lottery on April 8 to pick 226 people to become casual workers.

To be entered in that drawing, potential workers must submit their name, address, phone number and signature on a postcard to the union's and employers' Joint Port Labor Relations Committee by mail, The News-Tribune reported in Sunday's newspaper. That postcard must be postmarked no later than midnight Wednesday.

The jobs may not be immediately lucrative. They're at the bottom rung of the longshore workers' ladder. Casuals work on the waterfront only after regular longshore workers are all occupied or unavailable. Those positions could lead to regular longshore jobs eventually.

The last time the union invited the public to apply for jobs was in 2005, when about 16,000 people entered a lottery to win one of the 938 unidentified casual positions. Another 938 casuals were automatically selected because they were referred by Longshore Union members or employers.

The jobs opened up because the container business was booming, but container traffic stalled in 2007 and then declined by aobut 25 percent by 2010, so those casual workers mostly did not benefit from the opportunity.

A recent surge in Tacoma port activity has prompted the union to try again.

Union members will get special cards to distribute to friends and family member. A committee will draw 113 cards from the 1,100 or so submitted through this process.

Members of the public who wish to be entered in the job lottery, must print their last, first and middle names, telephone number and address on the back of a 3 1/2-inch-by-5 1/2-inch postcard and sign it. It should be mailed to the Joint Port Labor Relations Committee, Attention: Tacoma 2013 Casual Process, P.O. Box 11263, Tacoma, WA 98411. The card must be postmarked by midnight Wednesday.

The union committee will select 113 cards from those submitted by the public and 113 from friends of union members. Those 226 cards will then be combined and drawn and assigned a number based on their drawing order, the group said.

That number will determine the order in which the applicants will be invited to appear for processing. About three weeks after the April 8 drawing, the list of those drawn and their drawing order will be posted on and on for 30 days.

Applicants must be at least 18 years old, have no "disqualifying felonies" on their records, be physically and mentally able to perform longshore work with or without reasonable accommodations for disabilities. Successful candidates, the committee said, must have sufficient understanding of English to understand safety warnings and be eligible to work in the United States.