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to this port, and on these there may be 20 men shipped per year. It is usually for a run down home on a small vessel engaged in the lumber trade, and the conditions of life on them are practically the same as on our American vessels carrying lumber from our Eastern ports.
Pascagoula: There is a decided advantage in sailors shipping in American vessels, so far as my knowledge extends, and with the class of vessels for which I have performed service, because better wages are paid, as the rate of wages on foreign vessels seldom exceeds $15, while it is shown that the minimum wages paid in American vessels is never less than $18. Another advantage, the American shipping laws are much more liberal. The foreign seaman has to serve out a stipulated time, while the seamen on American vessels, although a time of service is stipulated in the shipping articles, yet the proviso is, he is discharged and paid off when the voyage is made, although the time has not elapsed.
Wilmington, N. C.: The advantages to seamen shipping in American vessels are, better wages and better food.
Waldoboro: There is an advantage in shipping in American vessels over foreign vessels in the following respects: The men have better wages, better grub, and better usage.
Norfolk: There are two decided advantages to seamen shipping at this port on American vessels, (1) better wages: (2) as a rule, better treatinent.
Savannah: The rate of wages is usually higher on American vessels.
14. COMPLAINTS AND ABUSES.
Replies of commissioners follow to request for a statement of any general complaints, if well founded, of managing owners, masters or seamen, especially concerning seaworthiness, provisions, water, sanitary conditions, quarters, insubordi nation, undermanning, payments of wages, desertions.
Philadelphia: No complaints from managing owners. We have had complaints from masters regarding disobedience of orders, insubordination and, incompetency of seamen; complaints from seamen in some few cases regarding short provisions, lack of room in forecastle, and unseaworthiness. Quite a number of disputes between masters and seamen regarding payment of wages and amount of wages earned have been brought to the commissioner's attention, and, together with the various cases noted above, have been satisfactorily settled by him, acting as arbitrator according to section 4554 of Revised Statutes, without expense to masters or seamen. Thirtyfive warrants have been issued on complaint of masters for seamen refusing to join vessel when ready to proceed to sea, and in every case the men were put aboard by commissioner's deputies, with exception of five cases, which were brought to the attention of the court and the men punished.
Baltimore: There have been no complaints of owners, masters, or seamen amounting to more than trifles, none concerning seaworthiness, provisions, water, sanitary condition of quarters, or insubordination. The supply of seamen has been inadequate. We have very little trouble at this port on account of wages or desertions. Bath: There have been no complaints made by owners, masters, or seamen in respect to the matters enumerated, or any others.
New Orleans: There have been no complaints brought to this office regarding the foregoing questions.
Port Townsend: No serious complaints have been made to this office during the year.
New Bedford: There have been no complaints from managing owners, masters, or seamen at this office concerning seaworthiness, provisions, water, sanitary conditions, quarters, inadequate supply of able seamen, payment of wages, or desertions. Providence: Complaints made at this office have been very few in number, trivial matters generally, and very easily settled. In some cases masters have complained of the incompetency of seamen and have wished to reduce their wages accordingly. I find some of the seamen refuse to leave the matter to arbitration of the commissioner, and the master of the vessel, not wishing to undergo the cost and delay of a lawsuit, generally pays the full amount of wages, but it leaves him dissatisfied and with a feeling that he does not have the protection needed from poor and incompetent men. There is nothing that I can do in such cases, either to protect a seamen from a wrongful reduction or to impose a necessary one.
Waldoboro: There are no general, well-grounded complaints concerning the points specified.
Wilmington, N. C.: Seamen often complain against masters for overcharging for tobacco, clothing, and difference in value of cash received at ports in the West Indies and other southern ports. No other complaints of which to make special mention. Very few desertions from American vessels.
Charleston: There has been frequently complaint made in regard to vessels being forced to go short-handed while the captain could get his full complement of
men. My observation in regard to the law is that the seamen coastwise have none, but captains and owners have all. When a crew sails in a vessel from New York, Baltimore, or any other port to make a round voyage, the officers sometimes abuse a man in the most threatening language, and that man has no redress or protection. He comes to a port, seeks for a shipping commissioner, and gives him his complaint. The shipping commissioner is powerless, and sends the seaman to trial court. He asks him to protect him and wants his discharge, as he is badly treated on the vessel, even threatened of his life. The commissioner, looking up the law, finds no help for the poor seaman, and tells him he had better go on board and fulfill his voyage; and in that way seamen will desert, and have sometimes as high as $15 or $20 due in wages. I would suggest that there should be a law passed that in such cases the seaman should have the privilege of his discharge. Sometimes a lawyer will take a seaman's case, but when settlement comes there is but little left for the seaman. I would suggest that such cases be left for settlement to the shipping commissioner, as it would not cost anything for either party.
Boston: The only complaints that have been made during the year were on account of wages. Masters and owners have complained that the rate of wages was excessive when compared with the rate of freights received, especially in the coasting trade, although the average rate this year has, I think, been somewhat lower. No complaints of ill-treatment, provisions, water, etc., have been made to me.
Astoria: There have been no complaints made either by masters or crews of vessels coming hither the past fiscal year.
San Francisco: There are very few complaints, with the exception of the quality and charges of slop chest. No cases of insubordination; the supply of seamen is abundant and desertions few.
Norfolk: There have been no complaints requiring official action.
15, SUGGESTIONS CONCERNING LEGISLATION.
Commissioners were invited to suggest such changes in the shipping laws as their practical experience indicated as desirable.
The suggestions follow:
Philadelphia: The present laws in our opinion are very complete, with exception of those relating to vessels trading off coast, viz, to Dominion of Canada, Newfoundland, the Bermuda Islands, the Bahama Islands, the West Indies, Mexico, and Central America, which in our opinion should be obliged by law to ship and pay off their crews before the U. S. shipping commissioner, and also to carry a slop chest. Baltimore: I would suggest for all vessels engaging and discharging seamen that the crew should be signed and discharged before a shipping commissioner. Seamen engaged by the master and agent on vessels in the coastwise, provincial, and West India trade without Federal supervision are not protected from walking delegates and other sharks who prey upon their earnings, often leaving them nothing to depend upon at the end of the voyage, still helpless in the hands of their depraved enemies. There is also no record of engagement, day of sailing, or destination left ashore. And, very often the case, vessel, seamen, and cargo all go down together, leaving owners, and friends of absent seamen, in suspense, with no means of tracing the voyage.
New Orleans: I would suggest that all those following a seafaring life in the coastwise trade should be shipped and discharged before a U. S. shipping commissioner in order to keep them out of the hands of shipping masters.
Port Townsend: From several difficulties arising on coasting voyages, it seems wise to place the shipment of coasting crews under the jurisdiction of the shipping commissioner, as is the shipment of foreign-bound crews. This would obviate the injustice liable to arise under an arbitrary course by either master or seaman, and save the trouble and expense of much litigation.
New Bedford: I would suggest that the laws be so amended that it should be compulsory for all seamen to be shipped and discharged before a shipping commissioner in ports where such commissioners are located.
Pascagoula: The prohibition of the payment of advance wages in some cases seems to work but little if any good. When the seaman's voyage is up he is entitled to his pay, and if intemperate and given to drink will then waste his money and otherwise incapacitate himself for immediate service and must be cared for, and is at the mercy of some one, and the prohibition of advance wages in such cases frequently places masters of vessels to inconvenience in procuring seamen, as their seamen are in debt when well and sober and fit for duty. The jurisdiction for the punishment of offenses committed by seamen should be enlarged to the commissioners of the circuit courts of the United States, so as to give the commissioners final jurisdiction over petty cases, such as failing to join vessel, refusing duty, desertion, and all minor offenses, thereby saving the Government expense of holding these pris
oners over for months awaiting the action of the U. S. district courts in all the seaports where the U. S. courts are held at long intervals or twice a year, and the commissioner could as well and satisfactorily impose the penalty.
Providence: I would suggest that the laws be amended so as to make it compulsory for masters of vessels engaged in the trades which are now exempt from the operation of the shipping act to engage their men before a shipping commissioner, or else give them the protection needed when they ship their crews themselves on board their own vessels. In order to make section 3, act of June, 1886, of practical value, it ought to have a clause added that such allotment shall be made in the presence of a shipping commissioner. Section 4555 ought to be included in the number of those that apply when crews are shipped in the manner provided by the act of August 19, 1890. Shipping articles would be improved for record purposes if they were ruled so as to permit place of birth and the place from which the seaman hails as home. Waldoboro: Advances in short trips should be increased.
Wilmington, N. C.. It would be to seamen's advantage if they were shipped and discharged by a shipping commissioner in the coasting trade. They would get better wages and better treatment when paid off.
Charleston: There should be an amendment concerning coastwise vessels in increasing the allotment from $5 to $10, and to West Indies for one month, as it sometimes has been given by masters indirectly outside.
Newport News: I suggest that shipping masters, boarding-house keepers, and labor agents for sailors shall report all men that are taken in and put out of their respective houses, for either foreign or American vessels; shail report them all to the U. S. shipping commissioner so that he may know what men are available for service; also that seamen may not be cheated in overcharge for board and lodging by shipping masters, as they are in the habit of taking advantage of the seamen because the U. S. shipping commissioner has very little authority over them as the law is now.
Boston: Section 3 of the U. S. Statutes, approved January 19, 1886, should be amended so that a seaman may be allowed to receive at the time of shipment in coasting trade a sum not exceeding $1 for the necessary expense of rendering himself on board the vessel on which he has been shipped, said sum to be paid by the master or owner or agent, and entered upon the articles against the seaman's name, to be deducted from his wages at end of the voyage; and any order signed by the seaman on the master, owner, or agent, requesting the payment of the said sum shall be legal and binding. The general law relating to the shipment and discharge of seamen is generally considered as satisfactory. It is my opinion that the Treasury Department should allow the shipping commissioner to charge in his monthly account of official expenses the total expenses of his office, such as rent, fuel, stationery, etc., instead of being obliged to pay the same out of his allowance. If the Treasury Department is to have entire and absolute control of the office it seems to me that the Department should defray all necessary expenses, especially where the office does a very lucrative business. The total expense of rent, fuel, stationery, and other small items amount during the year to quite a burden, which I think the Government should
Astoria: The amount of business done at this office during the past year has been so small, owing to the depression in trade all over the world, that no questions have arisen which in my judgment would make a change in the present shipping laws or in the method of administration desirable.
San Francisco: That masters be required to carry a certain quality of goods in slop chests and be allowed a higher percentage, say 15 to 20 per cent over the fair wholesale price. To compel all officers to have a certificate of competency from a naval board, and that such certificate be granted upon conditions similar to those adopted by other maritime countries.
Norfolk: I would respectfully suggest that the shipping laws should be amended to require that the men for all coasting and foreign-bound vessels should be shipped, paid off, and discharged before a shipping commissioner, especially in the case of seamen sent from the vessels to the hospitals. I think this plan would secure a proper disposition of their effects and thus prove beneficial both to the Government and the seamen.
Savannah: Disputes as to wages should be referred primarily to the shipping commissioner, and this should be provided for by law, thus saving many of the expensive burdens inflicted upon shipping interests by seamen carrying trivial and, in many instances, groundless claims before the courts and necessitating the employment of lawyers. If either party should be dissatisfied with the decision of the shipping commissioner then they may enter an appeal to the court of admiralty. The present law provides that the commissioner may act as an arbitrator upon both parties agreeing in writing to submit to him their disputes, but allows no appeal from his decision. This I do not think is right. Some mode of review should be provided.
COMPARATIVE STATEMENT OF WAGES
The following pages show, first, the average monthly wages paid on American steam and sailing vessels to seamen shipped in various ratings for voyages in various branches of the foreign and coasting trade, compiled from reports of U. S. shipping commissioners to this Bureau; second, like statements as to British vessels, compiled from the annual reports of the board of trade; third, wages paid on German vessels at Hamburg and Bremen, and on French steamships at Havre; fourth, reports of shipping commissioners on wages paid on foreign vessels at several American ports; fifth, reports of U. S. consuls on wages paid on American and foreign vessels at the foreign ports at which they are stationed.
1. WAGES ON AMERICAN VESSELS.
Responses of the U. S. shipping commissioners to the inquiries of the Bureau show comprehensively and accurately the rates of wages paid in the American merchant marine. The laws of the United States make the wages paid to every person shipped on an American vessel in foreign trade a matter of official record before an officer of the Government-the U. S. shipping commissioner, or collector of customs where there is no commissioner, if the man ships in the United States; if abroad, the U. S. consul at the port of shipment. Statistical accuracy is thus obtainable. The tables following are the average monthly rates for the entire year, compiled by the commissioners from their official records.
In the coasting trade, shipment before U. S. commissioners is voluntary on the part of the masters and seamen, but the rates fixed in articles signed before shipping commissioners are doubtless substantially the same as those paid by private agree
A general average of wages, based on the returns of all ports, would be misleading, as at some of the ports less than half a dozen men were shipped during the year in some of the various ratings enumerated, while in others the number amounted to several hundreds or thousands. For general purposes the figures of the larger ports are the true averages. Where no figures are given, there have been no shipments in the several classes.
Reference to the table of shipments of seamen (see table, p. 7) devoted to reports of shipping commissioners will convey an idea of the number of men in the several ratings, voyages, and vessels, whose wages are covered by any particular item in the following tables.
As our transatlantic and transpacific steam lines ship their able seamen in foreign ports, the wages of able seamen given at New York, Philadelphia, and San Francisco for steam vessels on voyages to Great Britain, Europe, and Asia are based on casual instances where a few men have been shipped in that capacity at those ports It will be noted that wages on steam vessels rule much higher than on sailing vessels, and that the wages in the hold of the ship--the engine and boiler rooms and coal bunkers-are much higher than those on deck. Thus firemen (including oilers, trimmers, greasers, coal-passers, etc.) receive nearly or quite double the pay of able seamen in any comparison that may be made, and engineers' pay outranks the mates'.
The method adopted in the compilation of American wages permits ready comparison with British wages, also tabulated in this appendix. Thus the pay of able seamen on American sailing vessels crossing the Atlantic from the east coast of the United States to Great Britain and Europe ranged from $15 to $25, while the average wages on British sailing vessels making the voyage from Great Britain across the Atlantic to the United States ranged from $12.15 to $17.01, the ordinary rate being from $13.36 to $14.58. On the long voyage from the Pacific coast to Great Britain the wages paid at San Francisco ranged from $15 to $20 on sailing vessels, and on sailing vessels from Great Britain, making the same voyage, from $12.15 to $14.58. The wages of boatswains making these voyages on American sailing vessels ranged from $22 to $25, and on British vessels from $19.41 to $24.30, the ordinary rates.
On passenger steamships across the Atlantic able seamen (the few that have been shipped at New York and Philadelphia) have been paid $18 at New York and $21.25 at Philadelphia. On the same class of British vessels from Great Britain the usual pay of able seamen (many thousands) has been $19.44 a month. But in the hold, the pay of firemen, trimmers, coal-passers, etc., on the American steamships was $40, while on British steamships the maximum reported is $21.30, the usual rates being from $19.44 to $21.87. It is believed that the two sets of tables are so comprehensive as to admit of nearly any comparison which may be desired. So far as
American steam vessels in the transatlantic and transpacific trade are concerned, it should be borne in mind that the American rates are not the rates actually paid, except as to watch officers, reference to reports of the U. S. shipping commissioners at New York, Philadelphia, and San Francisco showing that, with the exception of a considerable proportion of the firemen, trimmers, and greasers for the steamship New York and a smaller proportion of the same force for the steamship Paris, the crews of American steam vessels making these voyages are shipped at Southampton (see report of consul), Antwerp, and Hongkong, presumably at rates of wages current in those ports.
Roughly speaking, the wages of able seamen on American sailing vessels, consti tuting the bulk of our registered tonnage, are about the same as those of able seamen on British steam vessels, constituting the bulk of British tonnage in foreign trade. The greater efficiency of steam vessels makes the able seaman on the steam vessel, even at the same rates of pay, much cheaper labor than the able seaman on the sailing vessel.