Latest Attacks Almost Laughable

Seafarers Log, November 2010

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Michael Sacco, PresidentThere’s nothing funny about attacks on the U.S. Merchant Marine, but I almost had to laugh at a few letters and editorial comments that were published in various newspapers, from the Dakotas to the Carolinas, during the heartwarming rescue of the Chilean miners. In particular, and in what I can only describe as a stretch of epic proportions, certain writers tried to say that the rescue reflects poorly on the Obama administration because it didn’t immediately waive the Jones Act after the Deepwater Horizon explosion and spill.


Don’t worry, I had to think about it for a second, too.


Basically, the critics tried to push the idea that America’s assistance in rescuing the miners demonstrated the importance of using foreign aid. You know – just like the United States did during the Deepwater Horizon situation, despite never-ending false claims.


The main point here is that if there ever were any doubt about whether we’re up against coordinated opposition, the most recent letters and comments erased it, no matter how feeble their attempts.


We’ve covered this subject at length during the last few months, but the attention is warranted. The Jones Act is crucial not only for the U.S. Merchant Marine but also for our national and economic security. This vital maritime law supports 500,000 American jobs and pumps billions of dollars annually into our economy.


Those are the facts, and I’m sure that’s why the Jones Act has been strongly supported by every Congress and presidential administration since it was enacted back in 1920 – and why the U.S. has had some type of cabotage law since our nation’s founding.


After Election Day
This edition of the LOG went to press right before Election Day. Regardless of how the voting went on November 2 – and as longtime Seafarers already know – we will hit the ground running when it comes to promoting our union and our industry to new officeholders not only in Washington but throughout the country. That goes for Republicans, Democrats, Independents and anyone else who may influence how we make a living.


Because our industry is so heavily regulated, it is a routine-but-critical part of the job for us to constantly educate elected representatives and their staffs about the U.S. Merchant Marine. On that note, I again want to thank our rank-and-file membership for your reliability and professionalism when you go to sea. You are what we promote when we tell people why America must maintain a viable merchant marine. You are the best-trained mariners in the world, and you go out there and get the job done, wherever and whenever needed. You also “turn to” for the volunteer grassroots activities that are so important both for our individual union and for the American labor movement as a whole. I am proud to represent you.


I don’t do this very often but I also want to brag just a little about your union officials. They are a very hard-working group and they are constantly out there, working on your behalf. You have reason to be proud of them, and I know they share my pride in you.


One thing none of us can afford to do is take for granted the gains we’ve made. Times are tough but we have full employment. People try to take it away from us, like the foreign interests trying to undercut the Jones Act, but we’re going to continue working our tails off to make sure they never succeed.


That’s something you can count on as we head toward the holidays and the next Congress.

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