Taxation Without Representation - Should we strike against grain runs?

Yesterday I sat down to watc… Click HERE to read the full blog article.

Hey guys,

This is an issue that has been rolling over in my head for a few years… and I finally got it down on paper.

Let me know your thoughts!

-John

Well I appreciate the time you spent writing the article. I never thought about the fact that “our” congressmen are bus with 6000 issues while the senators in Kanasa only care about agriculture. It’s certainly a compelling argument.

I never much liked grain runs anyway. Strike it is!!

**always thought that the majority tonnage of US “give away grain” exports was done by non US flag vessels under the “guise” that the US flag shipping capacity was not sufficient??

**also that most if not all US grain exported are “GM” and as such not well received by most recipient countries…who would much rather receive their “aid” in the “US dollar suitcase form” as that is much easier to “corrupt” than a ship or barge full of grain!!

ADM and ConAgra tried to abolish the Jones Act through shipping subsidized grain shipments. This was a time when the US flag ships were carrying less than 4%, in the '90s. Now, the companies get subsidized through the MSP (Maritime Security Program). It currently sits at $174,000,000 for 60 ships. And you wonder why the American flag has prospered in the last decade, when it was nearly dead and gone in the '90s. If I could get $2.9 million per ship in my fleet, I’d jump on that bandwagon. And does that even include any tax breaks? Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. It’s the American citizen that takes it in the shorts, and apparently that is ok with the world.

John

I agree with some of the concepts you brought up but over all strongly DISAGREE with your solution the problem.

Grain runs are not even close to the worst contracts operated by US flag ships. Not the best, I agree but certainly not the worst. Non union MSC chartered tankers worse. The TAG-S worse. Non union research VSLs worse. NCL US Flag cruise ship worse. I am sure there are more.

Another issue I have with what you wrote is that all grain ships do is constant subsidized runs to East Africa and that you cannot move up the ladder and advance your license. I have to say FALSE for both statements. During good commodities markets like the one we saw about 4 years ago most of the ships that the company I work for own were on a time charter in the international bulk market. In fact this time last year my ship was in the Baltic sea still working on time charter. Also, these US flag grain ships are integral for use in natural disasters transporting food aid. I remember a few ships going to Bangladesh after the Tsunami. As far as moving up and advancing your license grain ships are great for this. As you say they are not the greatest contracts so people do not strive to keep the jobs. As far as I have been around senior officers have been in dire need on these ships. I expect my first few years as a senior officer will be on these ships.

If we “strike” and say no we don’t want these jobs we deserve better the jobs will be gone and not come back. Look at the reefer ships. I think there may be one US reefer left moving fish or something. You make a good point that the farmers have huge leverage in Washington. The chicken farmers have subsidized chicken cargoes that routinely go on reefer ships to West Africa. Tyson chickens to Lagos and Luanda are big runs. Plenty of foreign dry bulk companies would love to get all of the subsidized american grain. The American farmer would love us to strike too and we would be playing in there hands if we were to do so.

If this idea were ever to work the Deep sea US Merchant marine would need to be much stronger. We have 3 unions constantly fighting with each other for jobs. Thus leaving the ship owners in a much stronger position while negotiating contracts. I’d like to see all of the unions merge however, i know this will never happen.

Also, these grain runs have also helped out the jones act hull tanker fleet many times. When the cargoes are not there it is not too uncommon for tankers to load grain for East Africa. Also, a common practice for these US flag tanker companies before they scrap a ship.

To sum it up my main point is that the world wide dry bulker fleet is huge. If we refuse to work PL 480 or USAID cargoes we lose the jobs period. All we have now is the preference to take these cargoes over the foreign competition. As a young mate I look forward to working my way up on these ships and eventually moving over to some better contracts but right now i NEED these jobs. SOLIDARITY.

John, I would like to hear your comments because what you wrote is of great concern. However, I still love your blog.

nymsailor , I like a lot of what you are saying and the following statement really hit a chord:

[QUOTE=nymsailor;25511]
If this idea were ever to work the Deep sea US Merchant marine would need to be much stronger. We have 3 unions constantly fighting with each other for jobs. Thus leaving the ship owners in a much stronger position while negotiating contracts. I’d like to see all of the unions merge however, i know this will never happen.
[/QUOTE]

The truth is, I don’t have much experience with grain runs and my suggestion is, admittedly, not a perfect answer. What I was really striving for was to open up the dialogue and get some people with informed opinions to discuss an area which I view as a concern. For that, I appreciate your taking the time to comment.

Stranger things have happened. The SIU and IBU nearly merged in the '70s. The NMU was kicked around until the merger with SIU. Nothing surprises me anymore.