The Cargo Chain is an organizing tool for longshore workers that shows the players and pressure points in today’s globalized shipping network. How do commodities get from factory to shopping mall? Who really has the power to move today’s global economy?

CUP worked with the Longshore Workers Coalition; Labor Notes; cartographer Bill Rankin; and graphic designers, Thumb, to create this fold out poster which shows how cargo moves around the world, from the factory, to the store, to your hands. The poster helps Longshore workers understand their role within the interlocking transportation network by visualizing the choke points in the system. 

The publication has been used by longshore workers’ unions across the country, as well as the Railworkers’ Network. The steelworker’s union has used the poster as a model for their international solidarity project with the West Coast longshore workers, dockworkers in Australia, and miners in South Africa and Australia. Over a thousand copies have been distributed to union leaders through the Labor Notes conferences.

Get your own copy here!

Resources & Links

The Longshore Workers’ Coalition is a movement of International Longshoremen’s Association members and retirees organizing to build a stronger and more democratic longshore union.

Labor Notes is a media and organizing project that has been the voice of union activists who want to put the movement back in the labor movement.

Thumb is a Brooklyn and Baltimore-based graphic design office that works on public, private, and self-initiated projects, usually in the areas of architecture, art, design, and culture.

Bill Rankin is a historian and cartographer.

Making Policy Public is a program of the Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP). CUP partners with policy advocates and graphic designers to produce foldout posters that explain complicated policy issues, like this one.

Funding Support

This project was made possible by the Diane Middleton Foundation; the New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency; and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.


  • CUP
  • Rosten Woo
  • Labor Notes
  • Advocacy Partner
  • The Longshore Worker’s Coalition (LWC)
  • Advocacy Partner
  • Thumb
  • Designers
  • Bill Rankin
  • Cartography
  • William Hood
  • Illustrations


Remaking the Map
  • ArtNews
  • October 01, 2010

Hubs and spokes in orange dotting and crisscrossing a light blue earth drew attention to major ports where workers could most influence job conditions. 

Common Sense
  • GOOD Magazine
  • March 19, 2008

In a primer on cargo supply chains, a color-coded chart graphically links your made-in-China iPod with the tugboat captains and dockworkers who brought it to you.

As Cargo Chains Grow, So Does Workers’ Leverage
  • Teamsters for a Democratic Union
  • January 30, 2008

This pamphlet examines the network of workers and machines that move goods across the globe, the potential power this system creates for labor, and what companies are doing to undermine this power.