The Gal-Tex ship pilots have filed for a multi-year rate increase that begins with an eight percent increase on June 1, an eight percent increase the following year, and seven percent increases over each of the next three years, according to the Galveston Daily News.
This increase is substantially higher than a previous rate increase request filed on the pilots’ behalf by the West Gulf Maritime Association last August. At that time the WGMA, a Houston-based group of maritime-affiliated businesses that includes ship agents, ports, steamships lines, freight forwarders and others, filed a pre-emptive rate increase request for three percent per year over the next three years on behalf of the pilots’ group.
This was an unusual event; ordinarily, pilot groups file their own requests for increases. However, following Hurricane Ike’s devastation in September, the pre-emptive filing was withdrawn by WGMA. Negotiations since then have not resulted in an agreement.
The pre-emptive filing was at least partly intended to head off disagreement over rate increases. In 2007, a bitter fight amongst the pilots, the WGMA and other parties over rates ended when the Galveston Board of Commissioners approved a 4.9 percent increase. The Gal-Tex pilots, who guide vessels from the Gulf up the Houston ship channel to Galveston and the Port of Texas City, had requested a 30.6 percent increase, the newspaper reported.
In the new filing request, the pilots said that they have not been adequately paid since 2000. The WGMA, which is involved in pilot rate negotiations throughout the region, is holding a private session on Friday and is expected to object to the requested raise.