Ever wonder why it costs so much to bring cargo into the United States? Well, it's not just due to capacity constraints and bottlenecks at major ports that are driving up costs. Actually, one of the primary driver is the near monopoly labor control that the greedy International Longshoreman's Association exercises over our popular ports. According to a recent article in the New York Times -- which often goes out of its way to portray unions in a favorable light -- the union “representing East Coast dockworkers has been hemorrhaging assets and members in the past two years, according to a new financial report. Yet the union's president was paid twice as much as several labor leaders who head unions more than 30 times larger.” How much, do you ask? The big boss, John Bowers, made $587,078 last year. Of course we could always tie pay to performance to justify such a salary (e.g., improvements in loading / unloading times).
But even if looked at from a union vantage point, Bowers performance is wretched. According to the article, "Membership in the union, which represents dockworkers from Maine to Texas, dropped to 43,500 in 2006, from 59,000 two years earlier ... the union’s assets [also] fell to $33.8 million last year, down 34 percent from $51.1 million two years earlier."
The truth is that on all levels, the Longshoreman's Union is making imports unnecessarily expensive for American businesses and consumers. With average union salaries well into the six figures for regular dockworkers, incoming and outgoing cargo at our ports is hit with a "labor" tax that puts the rest of the country at a competitive disadvantage relative to the tiny cadre of card carrying members who benefit. I have no interest in helping fund Mr. Bower's inflated half a million dollar salary nor those of his minions. Neither should you. Perhaps it's time to collectively begin to explore alternatives and figure out ways to give this greedy organization the boot.