UNIONS: The Big-Spending Sailors

It is scarcely surprising that the political clout of such big and powerful unions as the Teamsters and the United Mine Workers is often headline matter. But in recent weeks the unions that have been making the most news are neither large nor well known. They are a handful of obscure maritime organizations whose names and numbers are hardly impressive: the Marine Engineers Beneficial Association, or MEBA (9,500 members), the Seafarers International (12,000), the National Maritime Union (45,000) and the International Organization of Masters, Mates and Pilots (9,500).

Buck Passers. The maritime unions were propelled into the...