SIU Makes Strong Showing at Sail-In (4/1)

 

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The SIU had a strong turnout for this year’s Maritime Industry Congressional Sail-In, which took place March 24 in Washington, D.C. This event has become a cornerstone for delivering our industry’s message on Capitol Hill, and it also demonstrates the high level of cooperation between maritime labor and management.

 

More than 100 maritime industry representatives, typically working in small groups of four or five people, conducted in excess of 100 meetings throughout the day. Roughly a third of those gatherings involved senators and congressional representatives, while the rest were with staff. The small groups included representatives from all segments of the industry.

 

Representing the SIU were Executive Vice President Augie Tellez, Vice President Contracts George Tricker, Vice President Government Services Kermett Mangram, Vice President West Coast Nick Marrone, Vice President Great Lakes and Inland Waters Tom Orzechowski, and Legislative Director Brian Schoeneman.

 

In past years, the Sail-In was scheduled to loosely coincide with National Maritime Day ceremonies in May. This year’s Sail-In was bumped up in part because of the turnover in Congress, where there are 58 new House members and 13 new Senators following last year’s elections.

 

The primary issues addressed during the Sail-In meetings this year were:

 

- The Jones Act, which requires that waterborne cargo moving between domestic ports is carried on vessels that are crewed, built, owned and flagged American. This is always a timely subject but especially so on the heels of the most recent failed attempt by Senator John McCain to weaken this crucial law.

 

- Funding for the Maritime Security Program, which comprises the 60-ship fleet of privately owned, militarily useful U.S.-flagged commercial vessels used to provide the U.S. Department of Defense with sealift capability. The program’s related Voluntary Intermodal Sealift Agreement, abbreviated as VISA, also gives our military access to the private shipping companies’ global intermodal and logistics systems, which in conjunction with reliable U.S. mariners help support American troops and protect America’s security interests overseas.

 

-Reauthorization of the U.S. Export-Import Bank, which helps finance the export of American goods and services from companies throughout the United States. The authorization for the Export-Import Bank expires in June.

 

-U.S. flag cargo preference shipping requirements, which help to ensure the continued availability of the privately owned, U.S.-flag commercial fleet along with its associated American maritime manpower. These requirements mean that a percentage of U.S. government-impelled cargoes must be transported on privately owned, U.S.-flagged commercial vessels available at fair and reasonable rates.

 

-Participation in the bipartisan Congressional Maritime Caucus, which is co-chaired by Congressmen David Joyce (R-Ohio) and Cedric Richmond (D-Louisiana).

 

All indications are that the Sail-In was a success, both in terms of reinforcing support from longtime industry backers and in making solid introductions with new members and their staffs.

 

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