MTD ‘Outraged’ About Waivers of Jones Act (8/30)


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The Maritime Trades Department, AFL-CIO, has issued the following statement. To access the statement on the MTD website, click HERE


MTD Outraged at Waivers Giving Away Domestic Maritime Work to Foreigners


WASHINGTON, D.C., August 30, 2011 – The Maritime Trades Department, AFL-CIO, is shocked, disappointed and outraged by recent waivers of the Jones Act that have allowed foreign-flag, foreign-crewed vessels to transport oil from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve. These waivers – nearly 50 in all – have been issued despite the ample availability of American-flag tankers and barges with well-trained, highly qualified American citizen crews.


In other words, the administration is giving away American jobs to foreigners. When it comes to transporting the reserve oil, U.S. mariners and U.S. ships are ready and able – yet they’ve been left tied at the docks.


It is worth noting that on this one issue, the U.S. Maritime Administration has issued more Jones Act waivers than have been issued by all past Maritime Administrations combined.


“At this time of high unemployment, we are appalled that the government would take such actions,” noted MTD President Michael Sacco. “This is completely contrary to the stand then-Senator Obama expressed in August 2008 to America’s maritime unions.”


In a letter signed by the then-candidate, Barack Obama stated, “America needs a strong and vibrant U.S.-Flag Merchant Marine. That is why you and your members can continue to count on me to support the Jones Act.”


The MTD joined with the U.S.-flag maritime industry to overturn a blanket waiver of the Jones Act when the White House announced in June its intention to release oil from the reserves. Within 24 hours, the blanket waiver was retracted. However, the Department of Energy rewrote the specifics regarding how the oil was to be sold, thereby all but eliminating any participation by any tanker or barge flying the U.S. flag.


“This was oil owned by America for use by Americans in a time of emergency,” President Sacco added. “Instead we see the work and profits go overseas. This sends the wrong signal at the wrong time to American workers struggling to make ends meet. We will fight to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”


Finally, the MTD salutes the recent communications from legislators on both sides of the aisle criticizing the repeated waivers of the Jones Act. A joint letter from Senators Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and David Vitter (R-La.) and Representatives Charles Boustany (R-La.), Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), Peter King (R-N.Y.), Candice Miller (R-Mich.), Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) and Pete Visclosky (D-Ind.), as well as a separate message from Representative Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), reinforce and amplify our concerns. We sincerely applaud them for speaking out on behalf of American workers.


The Jones Act is a vital law that helps sustain nearly 500,000 American jobs while protecting U.S. national and economic security. It helps maintain a pool of well-trained, loyal, U.S. citizen seafarers who are available to sail aboard American military support vessels that deliver vital materiel to our troops. For example, thousands of U.S. civilian mariners sailed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, and many continue sailing in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.


Further, the Jones Act pumps billions of dollars into the U.S. economy each year while requiring that cargo moving between U.S. ports is carried aboard vessels that are built, owned, crewed and flagged American. That economic infusion includes more than $11 billion in federal, state and local taxes. Most other industrialized nations have similar laws.


The MTD is a constitutional department of the AFL-CIO. Our 23 international unions and 21 port maritime councils in the United States and Canada represent more than 5 million members.




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