Frank Cobbaert is a retired International Longshoremen Warehousemen Union (ILWU) Local 502 and 514 longshoreman. He worked as a longshoreman from the age of nineteen in January 1968, and retired at the age of sixty-one in November 2009, making his longshore career just short of forty-two years. It took him six and a half years to gain membership into the union. He worked along the waterfronts of New Westminster and Surrey until November of 1988, when he joined Local 514 and took a foreman job at Roberts Bank, which he kept until his retirement. Prior to 1988, he fulfilled various positions for Local 502, as an executive, assistant business agent, dispatcher, and picket captain. Throughout this interview, Cobbaert often mentions the effects mechanization had on longshoring, changes in work attitudes and safety, “toughing out” the hard times when longshore work was slack, and the camaraderie amongst longshoremen. Cobbaert frequently expresses his gratitude and thankfulness for the experiences and friendships he gained as a longshoreman.
Interview with Frank Cobbaert
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