SIU President Michael Sacco talks about Election Day, the SIUNA convention and the safe return of the Ocean Atlas.
By the time most Seafarers receive this edition of the LOG, Election Day will be less than a month away. It’s a crucial election for the maritime industry and for America’s working families, and we absolutely, positively must get out there and vote.
For the last few months, I’ve taken every opportunity to let our members and other officials know that I believe the choice in the presidential race is crystal clear for anyone who supports a strong U.S. Merchant Marine. That choice is the Obama-Biden ticket, and that’s how I’ll be voting November 6.
Please be clear on this point as well: Where the SIU is concerned, in no way is this about Democrats versus Republicans. As I said during our recent SIUNA convention, we aren’t a one-party organization. We proudly support those who support maritime, regardless of whether they’re Republicans, Democrats or Independents. We’ve always had friends on both sides of the aisle, and we always will. No clearer case can be made than the fact that the two previous presidents – one Democrat, one Republican – have toured the Paul Hall Center.
It so happens that this year, we’ve got a pro-labor incumbent running against someone who is openly anti-union. Although President Obama hasn’t been perfect for our industry, I know we can work with him as well as with Vice President Biden, who always stood with us when he served in the Senate. Of course, the White House election is just one part of what’s up for grabs. One-third of the U.S. Senate is facing election, and so is the entire U.S. House of Representatives, plus the nearly countless state and local elections throughout the nation. Every one of those elections is important, and as we all know, every vote counts. So, once more, make sure you’re registered, and get out to the polls on November 6 in support of pro-maritime, pro-worker candidates. In the interim, participate in grassroots activities through the union halls, your local port maritime councils and the AFL-CIO. Our future depends on it.
What a relief it was to know that the SIU-crewed Ocean Atlas safely returned home to the United States last month following an at-times tense detention in Venezuela. Our crew members and the AMO officers deserve tons of credit for making the best of a strange, challenging situation, and keeping their cool. I also appreciate our members acknowledgment of the union’s exhaustive efforts to bring everyone home – it wasn’t easy on this end, either, but cooperation, diplomacy, and justice prevailed.
This is the latest example of our union’s motto: Brotherhood of the Sea. We stand together at all times, but never more so than when Seafarers are potentially in danger.
Last but not least, I encourage all members to read about the SIUNA convention, and in particular the comments from our guest speakers. It was an energetic meeting Sept. 11-12 and I believe we took a realistic look at the challenges facing our industry, and responded by laying out viable, sensible strategies for tackling those challenges. As always, it won’t be easy. But as always, we’re up to the challenge.