Celebrating Gains, Working for More

March 2010

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Mike SaccoThere’s never a bad time for the SIU to gain new shipboard jobs, but considering our nation’s ongoing economic woes, I am especially pleased to report Maersk Line, Limited’s current addition of two roll-on/roll-off vessels to the Seafarers-contracted fleet.

As highlighted on our front page, Maersk is reflagging two modern vessels under the Stars and Stripes. These are outright additions for the SIU, and our union will fill all of the unlicensed positions on both ships (the Alliance Beaumont and Alliance Charleston).

More good news is in sight. Aker Philadelphia Shipyard is getting ready to launch another new SIU-contracted tanker, while on the West Coast, NASSCO is gearing up for the christening of the next Lewis and Clark-class vessel, signaling job opportunities for members of the SIU Government Services Division
(also, both yards employ union workers).

Our industry continues to feel its share of the effects of the recession, but when Seafarers read about these new ships and others, I hope you share my optimism about the future. We are weathering the tough times and we are continuing to secure work aboard vessels like the new Maersk ships, the new T-AKE vessels, Sealift Inc.’s recently reflagged cargo ship Mohegan (another outright addition), Crowley’s new ATBs, new tugboats in the Gulf and more.

Even with today’s overall economic challenges, these are exciting times for our union. I look forward to reporting on more gains in the months ahead.

MTD’s Vital Importance
As of this writing in mid-February, I understand there’s snow on the ground in 49 of our 50 states. Despite that cold reality, we are not relocating the union’s headquarters to Honolulu – not surprisingly, the only state to dodge the snow.

However, no matter how bad the weather gets, we are preparing for the winter executive board meeting of the Maritime Trades Department, AFL-CIO.

For our newer Seafarers who may be unfamiliar with the MTD, you should know that this is one of our most important affiliations. The MTD was formed in 1946 and is a constitutional department of the AFL-CIO. It has 23 affiliated unions, including the SIU, with a combined membership of more than 5 million. The MTD also consists of 21 port maritime councils across the nation and in Canada.

Last fall, I was honored to be re-elected as MTD president. And as I’ve said from time to time, let me assure you that when you go anywhere representing an organization with 5 million members, people listen.

What it boils down to is that the MTD’s structure and affiliates help give maritime workers a recognizable presence throughout North America. Like any effective grassroots organization, the MTD, especially through its port councils, enables its affiliates to combine resources on issues that are crucial to rank-and-file members.

During our regular meetings as well as at our conventions, we map out the best strategies to promote and protect the job security of members of the MTD unions. The meetings also serve as a forum for representatives of our military, government and different segments of the industry to share in the planning and reinforce their respective commitments to the U.S.-crewed, American-flag fleet.

The bottom line is the MTD is a huge part of our strength.

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