Celebrating Gains, Working for More

June 2010

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What a month! In May, our union had plenty to celebrate and plenty to report. Topping the list were ceremonies for the new SIU-crewed RO/ROs Endurance and Liberty Promise along with the delivery of the new tanker Overseas Martinez.

As I’ve said on similar occasions, these types of gains don’t happen by accident. A lot of hard work and commitment goes into the process of securing new tonnage, and SIU members definitely deserve their share of credit. The professionalism, efficiency and loyalty of Seafarers give confidence to those whose investments bring vessels under the Stars and Stripes.

There were other causes for celebration and commemoration last month. In keeping with a tradition dating back to 1952, the Seafarers Health and Benefits Plan selected recipients for its annual scholarships. This year, the SHBP is awarding $146,000 in academic grants to one Seafarer and seven SIU dependents. This is a fantastic program. I congratulate this year’s winners and I encourage interested SIU members and their families to apply for the 2011 scholarships.

Also in May, the union and our affiliated Paul Hall Center participated in annual National Maritime Day observances in Washington, D.C. Both the U.S. Military Sealift Command and the U.S. Maritime Administration put together first-class events in our nation’s capital on May 18. Those ceremonies not only honored the proud heritage of the U.S. Merchant Marine but also reinforced the ongoing, vital need to maintain a strong American-flag fleet manned by loyal, well-trained, U.S. mariners. It was a fitting day and I’m glad the SIU was there.

One week earlier, the Paul Hall Center hosted a dedication in which the school’s new training vessel was named in memory of John Fay, who served our organization for many decades. This, too, was a fitting tribute as well as a warm remembrance of an individual whose devotion to Seafarers was second-to-none.

At the same time, we were (and remain) very active in working on a number of other important issues. For instance, if you’ve visited our web site lately, you probably noticed the launch of a new electronic petition calling for decisive action to end piracy. The petition is sponsored by a broad coalition of organizations, including trade unions and shipowners’ groups and many others. Check it out on our home page, www.seafarers.org, and you can also read about it in this issue of the LOG (page 5).

I know the pirates aren’t afraid of a petition. But, the global maritime industry launched this petition to show the world’s leaders something has to be done. The more support the petition receives, the more international leaders will look at and understand our concerns.

Additionally, SIU crews either mobilized or were standing by to assist in the weeks-long oil cleanup in the Gulf. As of late May, Seafarers aboard an Overseas Shipholding Group (OSG) tanker, two Moran Towing of Texas tugs and an E.N. Bisso & Son tug had been deployed for the operation. Obviously, the situation was constantly changing, so it’s possible that more SIU members will be involved in the massive procedure.

Like I said, it was quite a month. We have much more to look forward to in the weeks and months ahead – improvements and challenges alike.

Two things I can guarantee are that we won’t stand still and we won’t take anything for granted. Our success is a team effort, and I know that with the strong support of the rank-and-file membership, the SIU will continue sailing on a successful course.

That doesn’t mean we won’t experience the occasional setback or that we won’t have to make the occasional sacrifice with an eye on our long-term health. But I know we’re headed in the right direction. Months like May 2010 strongly reinforce that belief.

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