The U.S. Coast Guard has not yet officially responded to a lawsuit filed jointly by the Great Lakes Ports Association, U.S. Great Lakes Shipping Association, and international shipping firms over increased pilotage rates. However, the pilots’ associations have stepped forward in favour Coast Guard’s decision to demand the raise, issuing a statement to articulate their support.
The Coast Guard proposed the hikes as a safety measure, to relieve fatigued coworkers, an issue which they say has caused pilot shortages and traffic delays. The shipping industry interests believe that the rate hikes will cripple “the competitive position of the Great Lakes Seaway navigation system,” saying that increased costs to vessel owners will result in job losses for the industry.
In response, the presidents of the Lakes Pilots, Western Great Lakes Pilots, and the St. Lawrence Seaway Pilots Associations issued a joint statement which echoed the Coast Guard’s insistence on safety. They stated they were “extremely disappointed” with the lawsuit coalition and their choice to save money instead of adhering to safety and environmental protection.
Yesterday, it was reported that the pilot associations moved to join the lawsuit, even though they were not initially involved. The suit is against the Coast Guard, but they believe the pilots “have a direct and substantial interest in this case that cannot be adequately represented by any other party.”
The pilots have been careful to note that while they would be supporting the Coast Guard’s position in the lawsuit, the two groups have a history, both in court and out, of disagreement over piloting regulations.
A judge has yet to rule on the pilots’ motion.