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Is Anti-Daywork Un-American?

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In the past few years anti-daywork(er) talk has been common in Florida.  "Dayworkers are taking money out of American pockets" has been repeated in Dockwalk discussions more than "Call Me Maybe" parodies on YouTube.  But is this a fair assessment or are some Americans just afraid of the competition?

I'm not going to quote hard facts that bore you (and myself), all I have, to answer this question, are my personal experiences as a former dayworker in Ft. Lauderdale.  During a cumulative 9 months that I spent in FLL, I never met a dayworker who was ready to go home having made a killing off of daywork alone. Most of the dayworkers I met (myself included) preferred to spend all of their available cash in search of a job (and sometimes a good night out).  It is these dayworkers that are the life-blood of businesses lining the sidewalks of 17th street and US-1.  The professional yachting schools, crew agencies, scooter rentals, bars, clubs, and crew houses among others, are businesses that require volume to operate, and dayworkers provide it.

They take their hard earned money and spend it on courses that the MCA, crew agents, and professional schools tell them are necessary.  They pay rent, buy food, fill up on gas, and generally return every cent earned dayworking back to the local economy.  Bottom line, without dayworkers, the store fronts of 17th street will be as abandoned as those on the streets nearby.


So why are some American yachties so pronounced in opposition to foreign dayworkers? The obvious answer is because they insist on comparing Rugby with its faster paced and harder hitting successor - (American) Football. If not for that, the reason would be to kick out the competition.  Without foreign dayworkers, there would likely be a shortage of dayworkers in Ft. Lauderdale (not to mention West Palm). Having pushed out the competition, the American dayworkers could then jack-up the prices.  This is known as the Wal-Mart effect, when one entity has enough power to force another one out of business and then, being the only one left, increase prices.

What happened to fair competition? Is not supposed to be what America stands for?

Some of you may say that job hunters can come look for work without daywroking. But is that really a likely option? How many job seekers would have the money to take courses and pay rent while still doing the agencies? Much fewer than the current numbers of job seekers, for sure. And who would be the big loser? The boats, for having to employ less experienced and less qualified crew at a higher rate.

Disclosure: I'm from Israel, lived in the States for many years, and am writing a Phd. dissertation (in Sociology) on the yachting industry based on my experiences.


To start, I am American.

Well, you are getting day workers and dock walking mixed up. Boats need day workers. That will never go away. What I think you mean to refer to is foreign (most of the time illegal) crew dock walking to look for day work, or a permanent job.
Its quite simple really. If you can find a way to have less competition, then why not try? Less people means a better chance of getting a job, right?

That's why there is so much whining about it. Its really the American way. . Can't get what you want, whine about it instead of trying harder. Maybe someone else can fix it.

Yet, I haven't met an American yet that is opposed to going to another country and Dock walking. . hmmm. . .

Hence the reason I dislike most Americans. .
Posted by: Mike at 12/08/2012 16:45

Dont know the Ft Lauderdale or the US scene. In Spain, dayworkers are only tolerated in low density and when performing non contractor tasks like humping sails or scrubbing decks. As soon as a dayworker picks up a piece of sandpaper or a tool, the local yachting contractors or the local LEGAL dayworkers will call the Port Police and the insurgent dayworker is toast. I would suspect that the US attitude toward daywork is the same. If you are dayworking never intrude on legitimate contractors turf....they will bite you.
Posted by: junior at 12/08/2012 18:40

I am an American and lets just say its doubtful that DAYWORKERS are the BACKBONE of the industry. In my experience they are a unskilled persons undecided about life and living a somewhat transient. More often than not dayworkers do little more than scrub, clean and move heavy objects, are not insured and tend to be accident prone because they are unskilled. Shipyards don't want them roaming around and neither do marina's. Everything is against the dayworker, ISM, ISPS and CBP certainly impose limits on transients without papers. The real question do people want to be day workers and is the reasoning behind living between legitimacy and illegitimacy worth the risk. The real truth is dayworkers are cheap and readily taken advantage of and easily discarded when work is done of they become a problem.
Posted by: Frank at 12/08/2012 19:20

It sounds like you are putting the responsibility on dayworker insurance on the dayworkers themselves. This is double edged sword because the only other people (especially in shipyards) that insure themselves are the independent contractors, not shipyard employees or crew. This would be the start of professionalization of dayworkers into contractors, and as Junior mentioned would not go down well with contractors. To be honest, I don't think many boat captains would like it much either but I could be wrong.
Posted by: Yaya at 13/08/2012 07:44

The responsibility for controlling the density of insurgent day workers around the yachting ports rests with the Captain. Captains who attempt to beat the system should be held responsible. If a captain needs extra manpower for a refit , this added manpower should be called CREW. Signed on the ships papers as crew, insured as crew, paid crew wages and short term contracted. Its always smarter , cheaper , more professional.
Posted by: junior at 13/08/2012 10:55

American day workers get 1099'd most often due to having social security numbers

. We are Americans and we pay taxes!!

That's how this country works!

Not for Aussies, Kiwis, SA's and Brits to walk all over south Florida and not pay taxes for daywork or longer trips to Bahamas or Caribbean to get paid cash by most often an American under the table.

I run a 130' yacht and all there CV's and biz cards go in trash as soon as they leave.

Get legal or get lost.

Captain Michael
Fort Lauderdale FL
Posted by: Michael at 14/08/2012 22:00

I Posted a comment earlier stating that foreign Dayworkers are working illegally and it got deleted , Americans pay taxes and foreign nationals working in the US have to either be on a boat or have a VISA , this is how it works in most countries why should we just let it happen. SA's have already brought pay rate down because they work so cheap [comment edited by moderator]. Either go by the book or go HOME !
Posted by: steve at 15/08/2012 00:03

Dear YaYa, You have missed the most important aspect of foreigners and daywork in the USA. It is against US law and regulations to day work on any vessel (US or foreign flag) or in anyway in the US unless you have a working visa given to you by a company that has specifically employed you to work for them in the USA. So any American crew who, to you may seem anti daywork toward foreigers, they are expressing what our laws say. If I were to visit your country I would abide by your laws and respect your country and I suggest Americans do the same as well in other contries. Even though some foreigners do try to do daywork in the USA they are doing it illegally and the US Customs and Border protection (CBP) here has recently set up a specific department to seek and find foreigners working in the US illegally in the yachting and maritime industry. They have most definitely stepped up their efforts especially since the economic downturn with so many Americans out of work. Foreign crew are being caught and being sent out of the US more so now than ever before. The best and "legal" way to try to get a job on a yacht is to sign up with the many crew agencies worldwide and when you enter the US, which would be as a tourist since you do not have a special working visa, you can make appointments to meet personally with the agencies located in the US (mostly in Fort Lauderdale). Best to enter the USA with the B1B2 visa, have a well written CV, follow their recommendations (which would not include dayworking) and keep in touch with them as they suggest. Make sure you have a good deal of money because it could take a long time to get work onboard any visiting yacht. The industry is very competitive on all levels and there are so many out of work seeking jobs. There is more to this for hiring of a foreigner as far as proceedures that a captain and the hired crew member should follow, ie. written letters of employment, flying out and back into the USA with all yachts documents and letter of employment, etc, etc. but you can find this info by reading my previous posts or many others on Dockwalk. Best is to follow the advice of a yacht professional like a maritime lawyer in the USA, or manager of a yacht management company in the USA. Do not ask other crew, they usually do not have all of the correct information. I am a very well informed yacht captain (30 years in the industry) and know the details of regulations on all levels which takes doing my homework. However, I would not suggest asking any captain. The industry has many captains who are very unprofessional, who do not know the regs and do not do their homework. This can cause alot of problems for crew, but that is another story in itself. Good luck!
Posted by: bridgewatch at 15/08/2012 02:30

Hi Again, Here is another previous post of mine explaining the US regs for B1B2 visa and also for dayworking. If you have doubts about what I am telling you then contact the US Customs and Border Protection in Fort Lauderdale tel# +1 954-761- 2000. Also vist this web site for the do's and don't concering B1 B2 visas and alot more usefull info. . Here is the section on the CBP website found by clicking the "Travel" tab that explains what the "non immigration" B1 - visitor business visa and the B2- tourist visa is. Neither allow you to work while physically in the USA. link: Good luck and please follow our laws while here. Thanks.
If you are not an American citizen or green card holder - DO NOT look for daywork in the USA. It is illegal to "work" in the US comming here holding a B1 (business visitor visa) or B2 (visitor visa). If you travel here on the yacht you are presently employed on and are still employed on it - the B1 B2 visas are associated with working full time as crew on that yacht ONLY. If you arrive here on a delivery but not as a full time employed crew member or you enter flying here, you enter on the B2 part of your visa - VISITOR ONLY. If you leave a yacht while in the US you are still a visitor ONLY because you are no longer employed on the yacht you entered on! Us customs and immigration are out and about in larger numbers this time of year and especially this year due to the crack down on illegal immigrants working in the US. They are now well aware of the droves of illegal crew comming to Ft. Lauderdale looking for daywork on yachts. Also many captains and brokers do not want to risk hiring you either due to the great possibility of loss of licenses or fines if they are caught hiring you or paying you. However, that said, you are allowed to sign up at the crew agencies and try to find work on the many foreign visiting flagged yachts that come here "while you are visiting here". BUT understand that in order to actually get a job onboard a yacht "legally", the captain must fly you out of the USA and back in with ships docs and a letter stating that you are a full time employed crew onboard. You thus re-enter with your B1 B2 visa and I94 card stamped that you are entering already employed on a foreign flagged yacht and you can then join the yacht. That is how the B1 B2 visa works for foreign yacht crew - not for day working. Leave the daywork to the many unemployed US crew that are out of work looking for work here in Ft. Lauderdale. There are so many well qualifed and hard working US crew here already that should be given the priority for the "legal" daywork. So come here with a good amount of cash in your bank account to be able to hang around for some time to apply for work via the crew agencies.
Posted by: bridgewatch at 15/08/2012 02:50

Dayworking 9 months with no permanent job? The industry isn't that bad...
Posted by: Goodgirl at 15/08/2012 02:56

My point isn't regarding the legality of dayworking, it's regarding the logic of it. True, it is illegal for foreigners to daywork in the US. But so is going above the speed limit and people still do it. Why? because sometimes, some laws, just don't make sense. The laws against migrant labour in the US (and in most parts of the world) were meant to prevent migrant workers from sending their money outside the country. This is not the case with dayworkers. In any case, are you trying to say that American dayworkers report their income to the IRS? please.
Posted by: Yaya at 15/08/2012 08:49

Fill up on gas - thats funny. Most dayworkets either dont have a car or they ride a scooter so that throws that one out the window. Also if you have had a chance to drive around in the neighborhoods behind pier 66 (harbor beach) then you would find that the only buisnesses that might loose out without day workers would be Waxy's. However i do agree that dayworkers play a important part of the yachting indusrty buy being able to hire additional crew for a few days to bang out a project or so. They ARE NOT the life blood of any area though.
Posted by: Barry at 15/08/2012 11:36

Just for the record on my last post. I am American, a capt on a boat and I have no problem hiring day workers of any nationality - just as long as they can do the task given to them without too much guidance or (most importantly) drama. The dayworkers that are worth their weight are usually not dayworkes -they are employed full time. One that finds themself being a long term dayworker is usually the problem, NOT the industry or area they are in.
Posted by: Barry at 15/08/2012 12:18

Just to make matters clear.
I did not daywork for 9 months straight. That is the cumulative time I spent dayworking in Fort Lauderdale (mostly while looking for couple's gig) over a period of about 6 years in the industry. I am only stating what I see as an issue in the industry that is of concern to many.
Posted by: Yaya at 15/08/2012 12:37

Yaya did you pay tax? Are you legal to work in the USA? The question is do non-citizens and non-residents have the right to work in the USA and we all know the real answer, which "NO". Ignoring the laws of the land won't help you when it all goes wrong.
Posted by: Soaking wet at 15/08/2012 20:35

I am an American mate and we hire dayworkers under the table occasionally, but not permanently. I don't think your problem is because of prejudice. I think it would be just as hard for me to show up in Europe or Australia and find permanent work. It is not really due to prejudice, it is a matter of captains feeling comfortable that you will actually be permanent and the ease of putting you on payroll, etc. I think it is just hard for anyone to show up in any foreign country and find work as easily as natives to that country. Good Luck!
Posted by: Eric Schneider at 15/08/2012 20:37

YaYa, Even if a US dayworker chose to avoid declaring their wages on their US tax return, it has nothing to do with, nor does it change the fact that it is still illegal for foreigners to daywork in the USA and any America has the right to report them to CBP if they find foreigners doing this. They ARE taking the job away from US citizens in their own country and right now jobs are hard to find, even if it is part time. So please do not interpret it in any way as discrimination against you. Shame on the captains especially the US ones who hire foreign dayworkers illegally. There are plenty of great US crew in South Florida seeking daywork especially in the intrium while also trying to secure a more long term job in the industry. Hire them.
Posted by: bridgewatch at 16/08/2012 15:20

Ive read all these disscusions and have a few questions of my own to ask just for myself. I'm a young South African and did not come from much opportunity in my life. I've had the opportunity to get a high school matric and then after through a friend I manage to get a loan to do the yachting course because I wanted a better life for myself and didn't have the funding to carry on studying. I got into this industry and did the struggle like everybody else. I've been working as a deckhand for 3 years and this job has saved my life in terms of supporting my family and giving me dreams and hopes. As far as I'm concerned there are no agencies in SA that recruite crew or even hear of people being hired from SA. I've only now got the experience to carry on in this industry as it saved my life. So then how will it be to now get employed since I've seen this posts and read all the disscusuions. I understand that Americans should be first in line like normal but there are very few AMERICANS in this industry. Who knows why. The Asian side has crew Asian to recrewt workers, so they don't have the stress of dockwalking. So then for myself how do I peruse my way of getting into another job with following rules and regulations. I don't want to get into trouble and seem like the light is closing for me. There aren't even yachts in SA to work on inside my own country so then what? Do I now have to leave it and try start doing something new inside my own country as it is falling apart. For me I can't see this happening as I intend on moving up in this industry and to become Captain one day. This industry has given me hope and dreams but now what to do? Another thing is declaring tax. The owners of the yachts all use ways to avoid tax. So is it such a huge problem with people who don't earn anywhere close to the millions who don't pay tax but contribute the money back into the country. Any advise for me on how to go about doing things would be appreciated. Even the yachting industry should start taxing people working on yachts to solve the problem but I'm sure there are loop holes in that too like everything thats created by humans.
Posted by: JJ at 19/08/2012 23:19

Ive seen a message that Steve had sent about South Africans. Working for less wage. yes many do lower the wage but on the other hand many owners and captains are hiring many Philippinoes because they are much cheaper and the Ausies are on the same currency as US imagine how frustrating that must be for them. So I don't understand why that was said. Think about those that are less fortunate and are in this for a chance to have a decent life. I'm sure nobody knows the feeling of how it is to struggle and finally get somewhere and then people are full of hate and anger and take that opportunity away from some of those who really deserve a chance. There are for sure others that take the piss but that's with everything. The world falling apart as much as everybody seems like they got it together. That's just from my view but everybody has their own views and cannot be changed by anybody else believe it or not. I'm not here to make a discussion, just to see it from my point of view.
Posted by: JJ at 20/08/2012 07:16

Well JJ, no need to apologize. South Africans make good crew and the whole yachting scene would suffer without them.
As a foreign crew ,if you expect to sidestep the Xenophobes and Hypocrites ,you must act professionally. Acting professional means perfect ,open doors for the ladies manners, and a preference for local crew or local labour wherever you are. Think LOCAL, act LOCAL. Ive been a foreign crew for 4 decades. Never a problem when you behave professionally.
Posted by: junior at 20/08/2012 08:54

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