LONG BEACH, Calif. – Sailors have to go the union hall in Wilmington for the chance of getting a job, but many of them don’t live nearby.
These days most are leaving the union hall without work so they have to figure out where they’re going to stay for the night since they can’t go home. A couple of them are staying at the International Seafarers Center of Long Beach for free.
Michael Beeson is a sailor with family and a fiancée in San Diego. Every morning he goes to the union hall looking to get a job.
He normally works on cargo ships and bulk carriers. However, Beeson hasn’t gotten a paying gig for weeks.
“I know eventually I’m going to get a job so I’m just going to wait it out,” said Beeson.
Since you have to be inside the union hall to get work, Beeson spent hundreds of dollars staying in a local Airbnb. When his cash ran out he found the International Seafarers Center. They have beds, a kitchen, and showers.
“I found this place and it’s free so you know very grateful for this place,” said Beeson.
So far the center hasn’t turned away a sailor.
This coronavirus-caused slowdown is historic. The center has never had to house so many at once. That also means they don’t know what their capacity is.
Quarantining and other healthy practices are difficult to follow inside the center, but no one has the luxury of choice.
Beeson’s father was in the Navy. Beeson, 24, has already completed several international voyages.
“I have such a passion for the sea,” said Beeson.
The Executive Director of the Port of Los Angeles said Thursday there have been no reported illnesses of dock workers so no terminals have been closed due to sickness.