Victory For Working Families


December 2012


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President's Column


After all the TV and radio ads, all of the debates, the constant media coverage and the endless Facebook posts, I wouldn’t blame Seafarers one bit if you’re beyond happy to have Election Day fading in the rear-view mirror, regardless of which candidates you backed.


But even as the SIU and the rest of the labor movement jumped into action promoting workers’ rights in this so-called lame-duck session of Congress, and as we prepare to work with the second Obama administration, there are some very important lessons to take away from what happened across the country on November 6.


Right at the top of the list is the very real, ongoing power of grassroots activities demonstrated by SIU members and many, many others who volunteered in support of pro-worker candidates at every level of government. Grassroots mobilization quite simply is our edge when it comes to electing people who’ll support maritime, collective bargaining and other workers’ rights. We’ll never be able to outspend the anti-worker front groups, but, brothers and sisters, do we ever know how to get out the vote!


Those of you who’ve knocked on doors, worked the phones, handed out leaflets and helped provide transportation to the polls know quite well that grassroots mobilization rarely is glamorous. You could say it’s the electoral equivalent of chipping and painting – not especially fun, but the price of inaction eventually would be steep.


Monetary donations are important, too. It’s part of the system we’ve got and the world we live in. On that note, I thank Seafarers for your ongoing support of SPAD, our voluntary political action fund. SPAD is extremely critical for your union. It helps us protect your livelihoods. And, as reported elsewhere in this edition, the money was well-spent, as an overwhelming majority of SPAD-backed candidates won their elections.


In reading about the elections, there were far too many statistics to fully remember them all. But for us in the labor movement, here are some important numbers that you probably didn’t see in your local newspaper or hear about on television. In the key battleground states, union members and labor-backed groups made more than 5.5 million phone calls and knocked on nearly 3.3 million doors to promote pro-worker candidates, far surpassing the efforts of our opponents. Union families composed a much higher percentage of actual voters across the nation as compared to our percentage of the workforce. And in the states that essentially decided the race for the White House, we voted for the Obama-Biden ticket by significant majorities.


As AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka put it, union families made the difference in the firewall states of Ohio, Wisconsin and Nevada and probably at least three or four other ones. The numbers are still being crunched, but there’s no doubt working families tipped the outcomes not just for the White House but also in many Senate and House races and on issues like California’s anti-worker Proposition 32.


Our work is never finished and we’re moving forward, but stick with me for two final points about the elections. One, I offer sincere thanks and congratulations to our members who donated their time during this election cycle. As the old adage goes, victory has 100 fathers, while defeat is an orphan. You all have the right to claim victory! Two, I of course realize the emotions involved in elections, especially the race between President Obama and Governor Romney. But the elections are over, and we need to move forward as one union, one family, one crew. We are the Brotherhood of the Sea, and that’s the strongest bond of all.


Happy Holidays


It’s hard to believe another year has passed, but the winter holidays once again are upon us. To all our brothers and sisters, active and retired, and to their families, I extend my very best wishes for a safe, happy and healthy holiday season. Whether you’re at sea or on the beach, I appreciate your support and look forward to tackling the challenges of the New Year.



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