One Size Fits All
Containerssteel boxes stuffed with goodsand the systems for transferring them between ships, trucks, and trains transformed commercial shipping. Containerization streamlined freight handling and slashed the cost of transporting cargoes of all kinds. It also stimulated big changes for waterfront workers, and for the waterfront itself.
In San Francisco, shipowners and longshoremen (who load and unload ships) debated how newly mechanized work would be performed. With fewer men needed to handle containers, longshoremen faced huge job losses. They demanded compensation from the shipping companies. In 1960, the two groups negotiated a labor contract that forever changed waterfront work. San Francisco and Oakland, rivals across the bay, responded differently to the container revolution. With acres of flat land and access to railway and road networks, Oakland embraced the new technology. San Francisco, lacking both, lagged behind and was quickly bypassed as the areas primary port.