Workers Win Jobs Lottery at Port of San Diego Marine Terminals

Contact: John Gilmore (619) 686-6222, Barbara Moreno (619) 686-6216 - Published on .

tamtdoleJessica Moreno just won the lottery.

Not California's MEGA Millions or SuperLotto Plus.

Moreno's name was picked first in the list of more than 12,600 applicants for a coveted job as an entry-level longshore worker at the Port of San Diego's two marine cargo terminals and two cruise ship terminals. She is among 100 applicants whose names were selected in the jobs lottery.

"It's amazing," Moreno said of her selection. "I can't believe it's real."

Ray Leyba, president of Local 29 of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, said the lottery is an indication of an improving economy and more arriving cargo at the Port of San Diego's marine terminals.

"Because of the increased volume of work in the maritime industry and at the Port of San Diego, we are trying to bring in entry-level workers identified as casuals and get them trained so we can meet all the labor needs at the Tenth Avenue and National City marine terminals," Leyba said. "It's been very busy for us. If we are unable to supply the workers, that doesn't bode well for us, our employers, or the port."

The lottery is based on strict rules. Interoptimist, an independent company with no connection to either the union or its employers, conducted the lottery and selected the 100 finalists from the 12,000-plus applicants.

Working on the Waterfront

Longshore workers provide the labor at the Port of San Diego. They tote the luggage of cruise ship passengers, drive the forklifts to move goods on cargo terminals and load and unload cargo vessels from China, Japan, Europe, South America and elsewhere around the world. They are employed through the Pacific Maritime Association, which has 71 member companies that operate at ports along the West Coast.

longshorecastillo2Moreno, the No. 1 selection from the lottery, is the daughter of Marci Castillo, a Class A longshore worker who has been in the industry since 2000.

Moreno, now a cashier at a Sprouts Farmers Market, and the 99 others recently began the application process. Once the process is completed, 40 of the 100 applicants being processed will be placed on the "Identified Casual Board" at the longshore union's hiring hall on East 12th Street in National City.

One of Castillo's two sons, James, made the cut, although it will be a while before he is called to work. He's No. 417 on the list from a 454-name roster of those who were selected in the recent lottery held by the union and the Pacific Maritime Association.

"You have to be able to throw luggage, climb up ladders," Castillo said. "It's hard work and sometimes very physical."

Moreno, a surfer, who considers herself in decent shape, feels confident she will pass the agility and strength tests, along with the writing and math tests.

When the car-carrying ships arrive at the Port of San Diego's National City Marine Terminal from Japan or Korea, and the windmill turbines and engine boxes arrive at the Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal from China or India, the stevedore companies will call the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 29 union hall for longshore workers.

longshorecastillo1Longshore workers like Marci Castillo, and possibly her daughter in the future, will be dispatched from the longshore hiring hall to unload the cargo.

There are more than 150 full-fledged longshore union members and 141 casual workers employed at the two terminals and the cruise ship terminals. Depending on the workload, virtually all union members may be at work. That's when additional workers like Moreno are called.

Recently, Castillo helped unload cars at the National City Marine Terminal. The following day, she was at the Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal, driving a truck and assisting in the offloading of banana-filled containers from a Dole Food Company ship that had just arrived from Ecuador. A few days later, she drove vehicles owned by military personnel onto a ship bound for Hawaii.

New Port Business Anticipated

The Port District's National City Marine Terminal is located on 125 acres along the waterfront at 24th Street. The primary cargo is lumber and automobiles.

Pasha Automotive Services is the company that is responsible for processing more than 273,000 automobiles that arrive annually at the National City terminal. When the Volkswagens, Kias, Mazda and Lamborghinis arrive aboard the car-carrying ships, the longshore workers are responsible for driving the vehicles off the ship and parking them on the terminal property.

From National City, the imported cars are transported either by rail or on trucks to dealerships in several states. Hondas are sent throughout Southern California; Volkswagen and Audi throughout California; Mazdas throughout the Southwest and Texas; and trucks to California, Arizona and Nevada.

At the Port District's 96-acre Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal in San Diego, additional shipments of alternative energy equipment, including windmills, are arriving. The busy time mentioned by the union reflects the increase in shipments, including some of the first repeat cargo from India.

Throughout the year, cargo will be arriving from Asia, Europe, India, Central America and South America. Outbound cargo will be shipped to Asia, India, Central America and South America.

Additionally, the Port has embarked on attracting new business. That effort has resulted in new cargo arriving from Asia and Latin America.

The Port District's maritime staff and the union's administration have partnered in joint marketing and trade efforts to expand and sustain the Port's maritime business.

"Recently, we were able to secure export business from one of San Diego's leading industrial manufacturers, Solar Turbines," Leyba said. "Equipment manufactured locally at Solar Turbines was shipped to Asia from the Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal.

"We're expecting more wind turbines from Europe, India and South Korea," said Board of Port Commissioners Chairman Lou Smith. "Our maritime business is growing."

And with growth come jobs.

The Port of San Diego is the fourth largest port in California and part of the network of ports throughout the world that deliver goods here and abroad. The Port District's maritime business supports 19,300 jobs and has a $1.6 billion economic impact in the region.

Castillo can attest to the value of a maritime job. This year, the single mother, bought a house in Clairemont.

"I love the Port of San Diego," she said. "I feel so lucky to be working on the waterfront."

About the Port:

The Port of San Diego is the fourth-largest of 11 deep water ports in California and the top port in the state for the movement of breakbulk cargo. The Port was created by the state legislature in 1962. Since then, it has invested in public improvements in its five member cities – Chula Vista, Coronado, Imperial Beach, National City, and San Diego.

The Port District oversees two maritime cargo terminals, two cruise ship terminals, 17 public parks, the Harbor Police Department, and the leases of more than 600 tenant and sub tenant businesses around San Diego Bay.

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