‘Sail-In’ Delivers Industry’s Message on Capitol Hill

June 2010

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Representatives of American maritime took the industry’s voice to Capitol Hill on May 13, conducting meetings with 124 members of Congress and staff during the first-ever Maritime Industry Congressional “Sail-In.” The event’s overall objective was to communicate the value of the industry to the U.S. economy and national defense.

SIU officials who participated included Executive Vice President Augie Tellez, Vice President Contracts George Tricker, Vice President Gulf Coast Dean Corgey, Vice President Government Services Kermett Mangram, Vice President West Coast Nick Marrone and Vice President Great Lakes and Inland Waters Tom Orzechowski.

According to event sponsors, the Sail-In was designed to build new relationships with congressional figures who have only modest awareness of maritime issues. It was also undertaken “to better reinforce our friendships with lawmakers who already demonstrate an acute understanding of the industry’s importance.”

Maritime representatives divided into groups and converged on elected official’s offices throughout the day. Key messages expressed on the Hill included:

■ More than 1.6 million Americans are employed in the U.S. maritime industry, keeping our economy strong and our nation secure.
■ Every day, we use our seaports and waterways to move trillions of dollars worth of export, import and domestic cargo.
■ 85 percent of war materiel delivered to the conflict theaters of Afghanistan and Iraq has been delivered by U.S. mariners sailing U.S.-flagged vessels.
■ 80 percent of our country’s humanitarian aid is delivered by the U.S. Merchant Marine, supporting thousands of American jobs and assisting people in need worldwide.

David Matsuda, acting U.S. maritime administrator, kicked off the event at a breakfast in the Rayburn House Office Building. He then introduced U.S. Rep. James Oberstar (D-Minn.), Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, for an inspiring keynote address that sent the 136 maritime industry participants to their day-long schedule of congressional meetings.

The Sail-In was widely supported by various segments of the American maritime industry, including the SIU, international and domestic ocean carriers, terminal operators and other labor unions. “We had folks from 20 states, 48 congressional districts, 28 companies, nine unions and labor organizations, and 10 related associations,” reported Vice Admiral (Ret.) Albert J. Herberger, a former U.S. maritime administrator. “That’s a powerful message to Congress.”

The Sail-In was organized by the U.S. Maritime Coalition, a volunteer committee of representatives from the U.S. maritime industry representing the U.S. merchant fleet, maritime labor unions and other maritime companies serving America.

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