Gilding the Lily: The Genesis of the Longshoremen's and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act in 1927, the 1972 Amendments, the 1984 Amendments, and the Extension Acts

Article by Kathleen Krail Charvet, Heather W. Angelico & Michael T. Amy

The Longshoremen's and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act (LHWCA or Act) had its genesis in the early twentieth century through efforts of the American Association of Labor Legislation, an activist advocacy group whose lobbying focused on major changes in workers' compensation, occupational health, and child labor laws. In 1909, its leader, Executive Secretary John Bertram Andrews, an economist, began promoting uniformity in workers' compensation laws. In 1926, Andrews, together with Anthony J. Chlopek, the former president of the International Longshoremen's Association, drafted legislation introduced in the summer session of the Sixty-ninth Congress; the passage of the bill occurred during the closing hours of the short session in December 1926.

The new statute went into effect in 1927 and that was only the beginning. Throughout its history, the LHWCA, the 1972 amendments, the 1984 amendments, and the extension acts reflect legislation designed to address judicial decisions wherein the Courts have been presented with jurisdictional challenges. The concept of expansive worker compensation statutes applicable to longshore and harbor workers met with repeated resistance in the early twentieth century. Ironically, each time Congress required a federal, uniform workers compensation statute that was national in scope, it utilized the LHWCA. The LHWCA has proven it is “worth its weight in gold.”

About the Authors

Kathleen Krail Charvet: J.D. 1983, Tulane University Law School; 1977 Exeter College, Oxford University; B.A. 1977, University of New Orleans.

Heather W. Angelico: Special Counsel at Galloway, Johnson, Tompkins, Burr, and Smith; Member of the Maritime Law Association of the United States; J.D. 2000, Tulane University Law School, with Maritime Certificate and Managing Editor of the Tulane Maritime Law Journal.

Michael T. Amy: LL.M. in Admiralty, with Distinction, 2015, Tulane University Law School; J.D. 2014, Loyola University College of Law, New Orleans; B.S., Management, 2011, Louisiana State University.


91 Tul. L. Rev. 881 (2017)