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San Francisco Bar Pilots Put Safety First While Shippers Focus on Profits
It's unfortunate that the Sacramento Bee's Dan Walters didn't let facts get in the way of his attack on the San Francisco Bar Pilots and pending legislation to ensure that vessels are safely guided through the treacherous waters of the San Francisco Bay http://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/20120430/WIRE/120439959/1036/business?Title=WALTERS-Why-the-push-to-bump-pay-for-bar-pilots-
Here at the facts: The Bar Pilots receive no salary, no health care, no workers comp. Their income is based entirely on fees -- fees that amount to just pennies on the dollar of the value of goods transported by shipping companies, most of which are owned by foreign companies.
To maximize their profit, shippers are building larger
ships for transporting their goods. Just last month, the Bar Pilots guided the
largest ship ever to dock at the Port of Oakland -- a ship 250 longer that the
city's TransAmerica tower is tall http://www.sfbarpilots.com/SanFranciscoBarPilotsMoveLargestCargoShip/tabid/97/Default.aspx.
That's no easy feat. It makes their jobs -- already among the toughest in the state -- even tougher. And unlike the shipping companies, many of which have racked up hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines for their disregard of Bay waters, the Bar Pilots sole focus is safety and protecting the precious waters of the Bay, which has become more difficult with the megaships.
The legislation pending in the Assembly
that has been the subject of media attention would require an additional pilot
on these vessels. The cost of an extra skilled pilot -- which amounts less than
one percent of ships that move thru the Bay's tricky waters -- is a drop in the
pocket compared to the profits made by the shpping companies. Which is why a
fee for the additional service is a fair proposal; it is not a "raise."
If Walters is truly concerned about outrageous compensation, he need only look to the shipping companies that put profits ahead of safety. For example, the CEO of one of the shipping companies earned $1.7 million last year. Where's Walters outrage about that?
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