John M. Mavar, Honorary Mayor of San Pedro, 2001-2003 has been a life long resident of San Pedro and participates with local non-profit organizations as volunteer and a Board Member. He held staff positions with Assembly Member Alan Lowenthal and Mayor Jim Hahn.
John’s family has been in the San Pedro community for over 100 years. Family members were fisherman, dockworkers, business owners and residential/commercial developers. John’s commitment to the community extends to co-chairing the Taste in San Pedro and as a committee member working on waterfront redevelopment plans. When the city charter was changed to allow Neighborhood Councils, John worked with other community leaders to form the Northwest Neighborhood Council. He now serves at the Vice President.
John graduated from San Pedro High school and has a Business Degree from the University of Phoenix. He is currently employed by the I.L.W.U. as a longshoreman.


An Interview With Longshoreman John Mavar

Posted by eliza gale on April 9, 2012 - 10:07pm
John Marav Is a Longshoreman, also known as a dock worker in the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

1. How did you become a Longshoreman?

To be honest, I never thought i would be working on the waterfront. My life career choices and education was in politics and business management.

Growing up in the Harbor Area, many family members worked in maritime industries. From commercial fishing to dock workers, my ex poser to those professions was ample.

For almost 100 years, Job placement or requirement for waterfront jobs were given to family members or you really needed to know someone to get in. After years of rules and regulations were put into place to let the public apply for these jobs, now woman and minorities were given a fair opportunity.

The shipping industry and the union saw the need to fill thousands of jobs , A lottery was held in 1997 the, and as expected thousands traveled to employment agencies to get the application. Most of the public heard about this opportunity so two of my friends and me waited in line all night to be there when the doors open at 8 am.

2. What do you like about your job?

Working on the waterfront is humbling. The history of the long shore union, work ethic and dedication by fellow longshoreman is a strong bond.
I like that there is a strong union looking out for my job. Job security is the most important for me. We make a fair wage with insurance along with other benefits. But please understand, we move high volume of cargo, in dangerous and unhealthy conditions.

3. What don't you like about it?

Dock work is extremely dangerous because of large and heavy moving cargo from every direction. We are exposures to harmful and hazards materials that can and have posed long tern illness.

4. What has been your most memorable experience at work?

After the terrorist attacks on September 11 2001, port security was enhanced to check all containers with radiation detectors. Every container is exiting the harbor will drive through a portal we sensors strong enough to read and see thru the container. So one shift our crew worked a normal moving containers to the trains for loading. When so the sensors the pick up something a Customs boarder protection makes a closer check of the container with sensors that can pin point for further inspections which mean opening a sealed containers.

One gentleman, was going through the radiation detectors and the alarms kept sounding. It turns out he finished his last radiation cancer treatment that week. Memorable moment for sure but we also know how good these sensors work to protect our homeland.

5. A Longshoremen was recently crushed while working at the Port Of Long Beach: how common are such accidents?

“An injury to one is an injury to all!” Our union and the shipping companies invest time and money to train and retrain the work force on the dangers. Accidents do occur that include back problems, injuries from material that has dropped or even slip and falls. The tragic death of a seasoned boss years of experience was a rare type of accident. This has happen numerous time in past decades. But with continuous safety training class and working with the mentality of “safety 1st” has help reduce deaths on the waterfront.

6. Do you feel that the mainstream media has given port related issues enough attention?

Local news publications do a good job reporting on port operations and activities. When it comes to our Southern Californian news, TV stations and publications, it has to be a major story or disaster to have any coverage. Our twin ports, Long Beach and Los Angeles have made real improvements on how to move cargo with out hurting our environment and local communities.
Below are award winning and proven success with these programs:

Clean air action policy (reduction of use of old equipment by truckers)
Pier pass (allows for a discount to trucking companies to pick up loads after 6 PM)

Waterfront redevelopment (1.2 billion has be set aside to improve shopping , recreation and infrastructure without any tax payers expense)

7. What is the most common misconception people have about Longshoremen?

Waterfront misconceptions will be phases out like the policies
and procedures that have made our industry smarter and safer. Sure people say “we are over paid.” Also said that “longshore workers are into drugs and alcohol” making the job site unsafe.
As I have indicated about our fair wage structure and job safety our union test the workers for drugs and alcohol . The union and employers pay for any longshore worker rehabilitation if they need it.

8. If they made a movie about Longshoremen who would play you and why?

Its time for a waterfront/longshore movie to be made for our generation. “On the Waterfront” staring marlin Brando is a great movie because it depicts the era. We have such a great story to tell now because our the diverse work force, the innovated changes on how cargo is moved to the type of cargo we move that keeps our local, regional and national economy robust.

Who would play me Ryan Reynolds,,,,,,,I feel we both have sense of humor and logic to make the best time out of work.

9. How does a Casual Longshoreman get into the union?

I spent 4 1/2 years as Casual and collected about 4000 hours. The hours worked can vary based on the need to elevate because of retiring longshore workers to how much work is being forecasted. My Causal experience was very hard but laid the ground work on understanding all jobs on the waterfront. The more skills you know, the safer the job will be.

10. What would you say to someone who says Longshoremen make too much money for what they do.

Anyone who expresses that our wages are too high, I would love to bring them down to the waterfront to see, hear and feel the job.

It is all in a days work. Unload and Loading ships, operating heavy machines, moving containers and other cargo around the harbor. Data entry of port inventory with large scale computer systems. Performing a safe work environment. Obtained a certified federal background check for the Transportation Worker Identification Card also known as TWIC , brought a leave of security so that we are all looking out for each other and communities.

Please note; Eliza's interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)



John M. Mavar

Longshoreman, Los Angeles and Long Beach Harbors, Ca
Unload and Load ships, operating heavy machines, moving containers and other cargo around the harbor. Performing a safe work environment.

Superintendent, Salter Company, Los Angeles, Ca.
Built of a 36-unit apartment building in the City of Los Angeles. Handle day-to-day operations of sub-contractors, community issues and government agencies.

2001 - 8/2002      
Harbor Area Director, Office of Mayor James Hahn, Los Angeles, CA.
Represent the Mayor in three communities: San Pedro, Harbor City/Gateway and Wilmington.  Manage and oversee a field office with 2 staff members, attend and speak at community events, address constituent issues, relay information to the community through daily and weekly e-mails, present and accept awards on behalf of the Mayor. Created and maintained an online calendar of events for the harbor area communities.

2000 - 2001
Harbor Area Representative, Office of Assemblymember Alan Lowenthal, Long Beach, CA.
Planned and staffed events and meetings for Assembly member’s attendance or represented the Assembly member in his absence and liaison with community and civic organizations concerning state issues and concerns.

University of Phoenix – B.A. in Business  
Graduated: August 2004.

San Pedro High School – Diploma
**Senior Class President, **Future Leader of San Pedro Award (Two time)                             
Volunteer History
San Pedro Chamber of Commerce – Elected Honorary Mayor of San Pedro 2001-2003,
distinguished as the “youngest” Chamber member on record.

Raising $300,000 for local charities. and Past Chairman and Master of Ceremonies for the annual “Taste of San Pedro”.

San Pedro-Peninsula **YMCA – Board of Directors
**Northwest San Pedro Neighborhood council-Board of Directors