[QUOTE=c.captain;164917]the only time a master is also manager is where the company org chart clearly shows him answering to the top of the company’s management pyramid and where is declared an “asset manager” as well as the master and given a budget which belongs only to his vessel and he alone is responsible for that budget and overseeing the spending of that money to the operation and maintenance of his ship. In such cases they oversea all shipyards, crew hiring and payroll and even purchasing.
Such master/manager positions however almost never exist in the industry with the exception of yachts.[/QUOTE]
Terminology is key in any discussion of the NLRB opinion rendered, switching from ‘supervisor’ to ‘manager’…these confuse the issue at hand and that is the statutory definition of ‘supervisor’ for the purposes of the law being discussed–versus any impression, intuition or even common usage. It’s easy to follow the money and say who gets to make decisions and therefore, ‘that’s the supervisor’, but again, this is about melding relatively new labor laws against an age-old tradition of supervision and direction that the maritime trades represent.
The ‘supervisor’ definition, in the non-unanimous decision of the Board in this case did not apply to the tug and master in this situation, but this does not constitute the end of the debate. As the dissenting board member has noted, there is much that went undiscussed and unconsidered. The dissenting member has basically handed an appeal case to anyone wishing to make one, and by reference to the Spentonbush case, made a killer reference since it is a Court decision on the very issue of whether a Master is a supervisor for the purpose of the Act.
In this matter, the decision is persuasive, and all that needs to be said is, “the conclusion is inescapable that Spentonbush’s tug masters exercised authority responsibly to direct their crews in matters that were not merely routine or clerical in nature and that required the use of independent judgment.”
Now, each situation of employment and vessel operation requires a careful consideration of all relevant statutes and crewing and work situations, e.g. there is a decided difference in the laws and operation of a container vsl on international voyages versus a tug in an inside the boundary line voyage and the requisite laws, and therefore duties on the Masters in each case. And so a Board decision should make a careful assay of all laws, and court decisions and consider them closely in any of their own deliberations and decisions.
In this case, there is no discussion of the Spentonbush decision, and how it’s logic would be irrelevant, or misapplied in the current matter save in the dissenting member’s opinion citing it. This seems a bit unreasonable given the obvious relevance of a court weighing in on the matter of a Master being a supervisor for the purpose of the statute. They should at least differentiate the difference in the two situations considered by the Board and the Court. The reason why they didn’t may be found in the Spentonbush decision itself, where the court commented on an Administrative Law Judge deliberation and dismissal of certain presented evidence concerning statutes on the laws affecting Masters, “This evidence was probative and should have been considered. The ALJ’s disregard of it is another example of the practice followed all too often by the Board of rejecting evidence that does not support the Board’s preferred result.”