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Stevedores on a New York dock loading barrels of corn syrup onto a barge on the Hudson River. Photograph by Lewis Hine, ca. 1912.

A stevedore is a person who works at loading or unloading a ship. In North America this occupation is called longshoreman, which is derived from a contraction of the word or phrase for a person who is along the shore, that is, an along-the-shore-man. This job involves more than mere labouring. It is skilled work that requires operation of loading equipment, the proper packing and unpacking techniques for cargo, and the correct handling of hazardous materials. In earlier days stevedores had to tie down cargoes with rope. A special form of stop knot is called the stevedore's knot. The methods of securely tying up parcels of goods is called stevedore lashing or stevedore knotting.

While packing a vessel, a stevedore will employ dunnage, which are pieces of wood set down to keep the cargo out of any water that might be lying in the hold or are placed as shims between cargo crates to keep them from shifting during a voyage.

Because they work outdoors in all types of weather, these workers adopted a type of cap that has a snug fit, is warm, and is easily put away in a pocket. These are a type of beanie or watch cap called variously stevedore's cap or stevedore's hat.

Today a commercial stevedoring company is one that is involved in shipping logistics between sea and land transport.

Famous ex-stevedores include comedian Artie Lange (although he refers to himself as an ex-longshoreman).

Two unions within the AFL-CIO represent longshoremen in the United States: the International Longshoremen's Association, which represents longshoremen on the east coast, on the Great Lakes and connected waterways and along the Gulf of Mexico, and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, which represents longshoremen along the west coast, in Hawai'i and Alaska, and, through an affiliate, in Canada.

In the United Kingdom, the definition of a stevedore varies from port to port. In some ports, only the highly skilled master of a loading gang is referred to as a "stevedore".

In Australia, stevedores were historically referred to as wharf labourers and were colloquially called wharfies. The Maritime Union of Australia has coverage of these workers, and fought a substantial industrial battle in the 1998 Australian waterfront dispute to prevent the contracting out of work to non-union contractors.


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