Clerical Pay at the Port of LA: An Update

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A few days ago I quoted a negotiator for the shipping companies at the port of LA saying that clerical workers there had been offered a deal that would raise average annual pay “to $195,000 from $165,000, 11 weeks’ paid vacation and a generous pension increase.” That’s a lot! Today the port strike is over, and the LA Times provides a more accurate picture of pay for these workers:

The workers don’t have ordinary clerk and secretarial jobs. They are logistics experts who process a massive flow of information on the content of ships’ cargo containers and their destinations. The clerical workers, among the highest-paid in the country, are responsible for booking cargo, filing customs documentation, and monitoring and tracking cargo movements.

According to union officials and the Harbor Employers Assn., the average hourly rate for clerical workers is $40.50 an hour — which amounts to about $84,000 a year. In comparison, the median annual wage for cargo and freight agents was $37,150 in May 2010, according to the most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

As talks dragged on, employers offered to raise the union workers’ total compensation package. The employers had said total compensation currently averages $165,000, but that amount includes healthcare, pension contributions, time off and other benefits in addition to salary.

That’s still a lot, and obviously these folks have a pretty rich benefits package if it’s about equal to base pay. But since I wrote about this earlier, I just wanted to follow up with the straight dope now that we have it. You can decide for yourself what you think about it.

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WE CAME UP SHORT.

We just wrapped up a shorter-than-normal, urgent-as-ever fundraising drive and we came up about $45,000 short of our $300,000 goal.

That means we're going to have upwards of $350,000, maybe more, to raise in online donations between now and June 30, when our fiscal year ends and we have to get to break-even. And even though there's zero cushion to miss the mark, we won't be all that in your face about our fundraising again until June.

So we urgently need this specific ask, what you're reading right now, to start bringing in more donations than it ever has. The reality, for these next few months and next few years, is that we have to start finding ways to grow our online supporter base in a big way—and we're optimistic we can keep making real headway by being real with you about this.

Because the bottom line: Corporations and powerful people with deep pockets will never sustain the type of journalism Mother Jones exists to do. The only investors who won’t let independent, investigative journalism down are the people who actually care about its future—you.

And we hope you might consider pitching in before moving on to whatever it is you're about to do next. We really need to see if we'll be able to raise more with this real estate on a daily basis than we have been, so we're hoping to see a promising start.

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