More Gains in 2010

SIU President Michael Sacco recaps the union's top stories from the past year

Seafarers Log, January 2011

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Michael Sacco, PresidentEven though the national economy remained lousy during the past year, our union continued riding out the storm with full employment and the addition of new tonnage. We also negotiated good contracts that maintain benefits and improve wages.


For those reasons and others, I believe 2010 definitely was another year of progress for the SIU. Our first measure of success is always jobs and job security for the rank-and-file membership, and we absolutely continued doing well in that category. As I’ve said throughout the recession, an individual Seafarer may not be able to pick and choose the exact job or exact run he or she wants at a particular time, but at least you can go to work. The jobs are there.


Of course, there cannot be an adequate number of jobs without sufficient tonnage entering the American-flag fleet. Last year, our union welcomed no fewer than five new tankers, four car carriers, four ATBs, two heavy-lift ships and three T-AKE vessels. Some were replacements for older ships while others were outright additions, but in every case, they signify a solid future for Seafarers.


One of the first big stories from last year was the U.S. Merchant Marine’s timely, efficient response to the devastation in Haiti. As we take one last look back on 2010, I again salute the women and men of the SIU who sailed on those critical early relief missions after the earthquake. You deserve the recognition and appreciation you’ve received.


No review of 2010 would be complete without mentioning the Deepwater Horizon tragedy and the ridiculous attacks on the Jones Act that soon followed. Our industry and our supporters stood up and successfully fought back against the misinformation spread by enemies of the U.S.-flag fleet, but by no means should we assume the fight is over.


In fact, I expect that efforts to maintain and strengthen the Jones Act will be one of our industry’s biggest tasks in 2011. Our critics may be grossly inaccurate – some might even describe them as shameless – but they’re also persistent.


We know how to put up a good fight, too, and we’re more than ready to promote and protect the U.S. Merchant Marine.


But it won’t be easy, especially after losing so many advocates on Election Day. There’s a big void to fill, and a big educational job ahead. We have always had friends on both sides of the aisle, but we will need help from you and your family members to tell our side of the story to elected officials.


As we move forward, I thank our members for their grassroots efforts throughout the country and I urge you to continue participating. That includes supporting SPAD, our union’s voluntary political action fund. SPAD is nothing short of essential to our survival and our prosperity.


Also central to our success is the outstanding work you perform every day aboard the vessels throughout our SIU-crewed fleet. We have survived because we are trusted partners in the commercial and military maritime industry. Much of that trust is built upon providing qualified manpower. Here again, we deliver and we’re reliable, thanks to you.


Credit also goes to our affiliated school in Piney Point: the Paul Hall Center for Maritime Training and Education. The school is a great thing for Seafarers.


As we gear up for all that lies ahead, I’m proud to represent you and I’m looking forward to another good year.

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