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Hundreds of Thousands Enter Drawing for Decent Job

The ILWU is hosting lottery for 2,400 part-time longshoreman gigs
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 28, 2017 1:50 PM CST
Hundreds of Thousands Enter Drawing for Decent Job
Cranes load containers onto the ships at the Port of Los Angeles.   (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

It's Willy Wonka's golden ticket but for adults desperate for a blue-collar job in America. The International Longshore and Warehouse Union is holding a drawing for 2,400 part-time jobs loading and unloading shipping containers at ports in the Los Angeles area, the Los Angeles Times reports. While these part-time positions don't come with guaranteed hours or benefits, they do come with the possibility of getting promoted to full-time, unionized longshoreman—a position that had an average salary of $161,000 per year in 2016. It's not a sure thing and it can be a long wait—some workers have been stuck as part-timers for 13 years—but one woman who applied for the lottery calls it a "once in a lifetime opportunity."

The ILWU hasn't held this kind of drawing since 2004, the Long Beach Press Telegram reports. Back then, more than 250,000 people entered the lottery; up to a million may enter this time around. The Times says it shows "how desperate" Americans are to even get a shot at a "stable, high-paying career working with their hands." That shot doesn't come without risks. The average part-time longshoreman earned just $31,000 in 2016. And while the ILWU says it's holding the drawing to avoid labor shortages at ports, according to the Journal of Commerce, some long-time part-timers warn of days on end without a shift and a tough lifestyle. The deadline for the entry into the drawing was earlier this month; the drawing is scheduled for Feb. 6. (More jobs stories.)

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