The cast figure in the nighttime setting shows a longshoreman walking across the container yard toward the crane in the distance. A ship is being unloaded at the pier. The longshoreman is a middle-aged, African American man who is dressed in coveralls, work boots, and a hardhat, typical working clothes for a crane operator. His gloves are in his back pockettheyre not the thick gloves worn by longshoremen for handling barrels, boxes, and bales, or for lashing containers together. Theyre thin and leather, and may not be needed at all for driving the crane. The operator is carrying a thermos of coffee.
Retired ILWU Local 10 longshoreman Herb Mills helped us develop the details of this cast figure. He suggested we show the crane operator, who represents the new world of longshore work that was ushered in by containerization. The crane operator works alone in the cab, high above the ship, in surroundings that contrast sharply with the gangs of men who labored together in the holds of break-bulk freighters. This longshoreman is turning to, or about to start the night shift at the crane controls. That he is African American reflects Local 10s membership beginning in the 1960s, when a significant number of blacks were brought into the local.