Learn about the Port experience and the people who worked at this facility.
Longshore Local 13 provided the manpower to work the banana facility at the
Port of Los Angeles. The laborers were organized into groups, and because the
work was so arduous, each banana handler labored 40 minutes out of each hour with
a rest period of 20 minutes. Working together for long periods led to strong ties
between the coworkers and feelings of comradery, which lasted well into their
retirement years. In 1973, the first female banana handler was hired to work at
the terminal. Until that date, all work at the terminal was performed by male
Workers unloading bananas
Banana unloading facilities varied depending on where they were located, the
climate, and layout of each port. Early unloading systems in the United States
tended to be simple warehouses or transit sheds located on wharves. Sometimes
they included rail access to move the banana cargo. Ships would dock at the wharf,
and laborers would move the bananas from each ship to a warehouse. From the warehouse,
the fruit was transported throughout the western and southwestern United States.
This process was time consuming and inefficient because it required the ships
to remain docked for long periods. As the volume of bananas entering the country
increased, companies such as United Fruit Company streamlined the unloading process
by using new 1920s technology.