IBEW 11 Members Help Keep the Ports Safe and Humming

Each year, billions of dollars’ worth of cargo from around the world comes through the Port of Los Angeles on a 24/7 basis. Another 1.3 million passengers arrive via cruise ships every year. The nation’s premier gateway for international commerce, the LA port is the busiest seaport in the Western Hemisphere. Who services, repairs and maintains the ship to shore power for those huge cargo and cruise ships? All that work is done by a small, highly skilled IBEW 11 public sector crew who work at the port.

Of the 1,000 or so IBEW 11 public sector workers in L.A. City and County, some 30 work directly at the port, run by the City of LA.

Recently, IBEW 11 Business Manager Robert Corona and Business Rep Luis Arida visited the port to talk to the crew and learn about the critical work they do in facilitating the huge volume of cargo and passengers that are key to the local economy. “We’re always happy to show off what a huge impact our IBEW 11 workers have on keeping the goods flowing at the Port of LA,” said Shop Steward and Senior Electrician Jason Peterson.

Port electrical workers fall into two classifications: Electricians and Port Electrical Mechanics or PEMs. These two versatile classifications perform all the skilled electrical and mechanical work at the port, including welding and rigging maintenance and repair work on de-energized and energized high voltage electrical conductors and associated switchgear. They also maintain all the electrical substations, including wharf-side high voltage electrical power connections for container cranes, lighting and power infrastructure for terminal operations, drawbridges, sewer lift stations, local park areas, multiple local marinas for public shore power connections, electric vehicle charging stations, and Port of LA administration and Police facilities.

“It’s a 24/7 operation here at the port,” noted Peterson. Depending on the schedule of ship coming through, crew have to be on standby to work evenings and weekends.

The cargo ships unload across the channel, with a permanent electrical set up and cranes to offload the containers. Meanwhile, the 200-plus cruise ships that come through the port each year dock on the other side of the channel, plugging into the huge Mobile AMPs – Alternative Mobile Power – IBEW 11 members set up, inspect, clean, test and maintain as the cruise ships come in.

With the huge Vincent Thomas Bridge spanning the port in the background, safety is always top of mind, particularly following the recent Baltimore bridge collapse when it was rammed by a cargo ship, killing several workers. The day following the Key Bridge disaster, Peterson said the LA Port crew was put on alert, and he was called into emergency meetings with all the Port agencies about how they might be affected and to review their emergency procedures.

When disaster strikes, it’s good to know the skilled IBEW 11 members are there keeping Angelenos safe.

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