Saturday, February 25, 2006

What does Joe Hill, labor visionary, have to do with the NPFMC

"With the toothless labor laws that we have, the situation currently is that the company always seems to hold the only vote the government recognizes and the only one that seems to count. Everyone knows that this is in large part why unions are so weak in this country. The corporations get away with it now, but the time may come when others rise up like Joe Hill against these injustices. It is still possible that more blood may be shed, because all will not always cooperate with this unjust system. Then there may be hell to pay."
Mike Lehman Urbana, Illinois

I've been remiss in passing on some pertinent research done by a reader in White Mountain, Alaska. ( My condolences to you folks in White Mountain who lost your historic and vitally important middle and high school to fire recently.) He's giving me the real classic education I missed by going to Oregon State University. He gave me Voltaire (that pillar of social entrepreneurship) to read last week. This week it's Joe Hill.

These people from our past forced great strides in the economic condition of the working man. But we are going backwards in the Federal and State push to take away free enterprise from fishermen and make them work for the shore plant owners, a forced servitude. From independent businessman to "sea worker," as opposed to "shore work." I'm not exagerating or making this up. Gov. Murkowski says he opposes it in the reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act in D.C., but is pushing full bore for it right now in Alaska.

The Fish and Game Commissioner is the one delegated by the Murkowski administration to push it in the NPFMC. He calls it a "forced co-op." The shore plants would set the ex-vessel price and you could figure they would weed out a lot of boats with the government's blessing as being just too many. Of course they could control fewer boats; the objections would be fewer. Needless to say the communities would suffer, like the West Coast Seafood Processors Association details.

But the WCSPA goes on to say: "Simply providing for the economic welfare of the fishing fleet while leaving the processing sector in economic disarray is not going to solve the problem." (They are speaking of vessel buybacks.) What disarray I wonder? They go on to say: "An essential part of an IQ system will be a need to recognize the investments made by processors and keep them economically viable."

Since when has the government needed to keep any business viable, except maybe the Savings and Loan Associations? When have the processors cared about the viability of fishermen and the communities they live in? I could fill a book with examples. The economist the NPFMC, and now the Alaska Department of Fish and Game uses, has a real burr under his saddle regarding fishermen. He has been discredited by his peers, and he is still working? That sounds like the government has an agenda to me.

That brings up the subject of solutions. This loose cannon of an economist should be subjected to peer review in the future, including anything ongoing he is part of. The Arabs even suggested they undergo more review before taking over all the East coast ports. What proof can this economist give to show that "processors" have a social conscience and would do any more than export the round fish like the logging companies exported the round logs. Now that the ADF&G is paying this person to further Governor Murkowski's agenda, the Legislature could rectify this situation. C'mon guys, and gals, you can protect your towns if you want to.