According to a report from the Maritime-Executive.com the Crescent River Port Pilots Association wants to raise the pilotage fee.
The union that represents the pilots that guide ships from the Gulf of Mexico along the Lower Mississippi River to New Orleans has filed a formal request for a 28 percent pay increase along with improvements in their working conditions. The more than 100-year-old Crescent River Port Pilots Association represents the 122 pilots who guide everything from cargo ships and tankers to cruise ships on the more than 100 miles upriver to New Orleans.
The Crescent River Port Pilots Association Inc., called CRPPA and based in Belle Chasse, is one of the most politically active trade associations in the state and it argues its pilots should be paid as much as the river pilots in charge of vessels going between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, as well as other shipping pilots at ports around the country.
According to documents obtained by The Advocate newspaper in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the pilot’s union is petitioning the Louisiana Pilotage Fee Commission, which oversees pilotage on the rivers and set fees, for the wage increase along with an annual cost of living adjustment. The union also seeks to increase its membership to 150 pilots to manage increased traffic, stress, and fatigue. The newspaper reports that the average pilot’s annual wage is more than $525,000 and the union wants the average to increase to nearly $700,000 annually.
According to the Advocate newspaper report, the Lower Mississippi pilots earn as much as a quarter less than the pilots responsible for navigating the river between New Orleans and Baton Rouge. The union says that its members are entitled to wage parity with their colleagues, as they have the same experience and skills and work on an extremely challenging section of the river vital to commerce.
View documents on TheAdvocate.com
Discussion on the website
Crescent Pilots on their website discuss the challenges that their members face, citing the fact that they guide vessels of varying shapes and sizes, each with different handling characteristics. They say that piloting ships on the Mississippi River is always challenging, and additional factors like fog, thunderstorms, swift currents, and the volume of traffic add to the challenges of supervising a safe passage on the river. The river, the pilots say, is rated as one of the most difficult and treacherous routes in North America, requiring knowledge of the local currents, tides, shoals, aids-to-navigation, landmarks, and weather conditions. On average, Crescent Pilots say the members log over 16,000 turns and transport nearly 560 million tons of cargo on the Mississippi River each year.
According to the newspaper’s report, the commercial shippers as well as the cruise industry are all opposing the raise citing the current economic challenges. The Advocate quotes the head of the Chemical Association as reporting more than an eight percent decline in river traffic in 2019 and early indications of a further seven percent decline this year. The union counters citing its own numbers showing substantial increases over the past seven years. The state’s lieutenant governor however told the newspaper that he supports the pay increase as both reasonable and necessary.
A final decision could take more than a year
The commission overseeing the pilot’s activities will begin a process of review and taking testimony before an opinion is given to the commissions on the validity of the pilot’s request. A final decision could take more than a year.
Read original article by "The Maritime Executive" here