Millionaire Monopoly Asks
The Legislature For A Raise â€¦ Again
By John R. McLaurin
President of the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association
Monday, August 24th, 2015
It's nice to have a state-sanctioned monopoly. It's even
nicer to have a monopoly in an important, yet obscure profession, like the San
Francisco Bay's 60 bar pilots do. In 2014, the San Francisco Bar Pilots, who
guide ships in and out of the Bay, collected their highest revenues ever in
their 150+ year history, nearly $40 million, from the ships that called on the
Bay Area's seaports. After expenses, each pilot took home an annual income of
$453,766 last year. And that income is for an estimated six months of
work per pilot – indeed, at the urging of a pilot, the US Tax Court recently
determined that a pilot working in the San Francisco Bay works so few hours
that the IRS can consider it a part-time – job..
Despite their 2014 record-high revenues, $450,000 annual
salary, and a less-than-full-time workload, the San Francisco Bar Pilots
apparently still feel that they are underpaid, as they are currently seeking an
11% pay increase (yielding an additional $12.4 million over four years) from
the California Legislature. As justification, they're arguing that
their expenses are increasing and they haven't had a rate increase in 10 years.
These are similar arguments to those used by the pilots when they asked the
Legislature for a rate increase in 2011.
Fortunately, the facts have demonstrated that the pilots are
much better navigators than they are financial planners. In 2011,
the pilots projected that their income in 2014 would be $362,147 per pilot if
they didn't receive a rate increase. The ratepayers in the maritime industry
disagreed, and argued that their incomes would grow without the need for rate
increases. The Legislature agreed with the ratepayers and rejected the pilot's
requested increases. The result? The Legislature made the right
choice. At $453,766 last year, each Bar Pilot made $91,619 more than what they
told the Legislature they would be making.
Click here to read the rest of the Op/Ed.