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By Rodger Rees, Galveston Wharves Port Director and CEO
As we do every Labor Day, the Galveston Wharves observes this federal holiday by recognizing the thousands of men and women who work on the Galveston waterfront to keep our economy moving. We would not be the fourth most popular cruise homeport in North America or a top-50 U.S. cargo port without this dedicated workforce.
Jobs Growth Forecast
The Port of Galveston fuels a maritime industry that generates more than 14,000 jobs to provide household incomes for thousands of families in our region. We can expect strong jobs growth as our cruise business ramps up with more sailings and larger cruise ships homeporting in Galveston this year. Our diverse cargo business also remains steady.
Union labor hours are forecast to total more than 600,000 in 2022, the highest number since Covid hit the U.S. in 2020. In addition, hundreds of construction workers employed by both the port and contractors are building a new $125 million cruise terminal and extensive infrastructure throughout our growing port. Royal Caribbean International forecasts an estimated 400 operations jobs when the terminal opens in November.
The port and its business partners rely on skilled union workers to move everything from containers of fresh fruit to enormous wind tower pieces, construction equipment and BMWs. Ship pilots, tugboat crews and line handlers work around the clock to move ships in and out of Galveston Harbor.
On the cruise side, hundreds of onshore staff, including parking shuttle drivers, union baggage handlers, security officers, greeters, and check-in staff move more than 2 million passengers through our two terminals in a typical year as they board and disembark.
I also want to recognize our business partners, including stevedores, shipping companies, tenants, rail operators, truckers and, of course, the port staff of 91 employees.
ILA: Backbone of Our Waterfront
The skilled and dedicated men and women of the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) are the backbone of our waterfront.
Our three ILA groups have different jurisdictions and responsibilities. ILA Local 20 moves cargo on and off the ships. ILA 1504-8, chartered in 1933 by the ILA African American Warehouse Local, moves cargo once it’s off the ships. ILA Local 1665, historically known as the clerks and checkers, coordinates, logs and tracks cargo movements.
All three labor groups closely coordinate to move tons of cargo safely and seamlessly through the Port of Galveston around the clock. They do this in coordination with port staff, stevedores, ship lines, pilots and others.
Union workers are also in the people business. Cruise passengers can thank ILA workers for greeting them at the curb and getting their luggage safely on and off the ship. ILA workers resupply cruise ships with food, beverages, cleaning supplies and just about everything else a cruise ship needs.
Their dedication and hard work have helped us build a reputation as a port that takes great care of its customers.
As we celebrate this Labor Day, join me in recognizing the contributions of our port’s union workers – and all the workers who have built and contribute to our nation’s strength and prosperity.