SIU President Michael Sacco optimistically looks ahead and also takes a respectful look back at a great friend
Whether it’s because of cutting-edge shipboard technology, new types of vessels, training requirements or other new regulations, our industry constantly changes. And the SIU throughout our 75-year history has remained focused on not only keeping up with those changes, but staying a step ahead. The same goes for our affiliated school in Piney Point, Md., which opened in 1967. The Paul Hall Center and its Lundeberg School of Seamanship don’t just keep up with the times – the school often pioneers progress.
Yet, there are some keys to our success that have remained constant throughout these many years. One of them, as Seafarers know, is political action. Sometimes we’re pushing for new programs, other times we’re protecting or building upon what’s in place. Two great examples of our political activities happened near the end of 2012, as President Obama signed separate bills that extended the U.S. Maritime Security Program and strengthened the Jones Act.
There’s no particular need for our rank-and-file members to understand the nuts and bolts of the MSP legislation, but you absolutely should know that the program means jobs for the membership. It strengthens U.S. national and economic security, and our military leaders have said year after year that it’s truly a bargain. We support it for all the right reasons, but first and foremost, we support the MSP because it helps keep SIU members on the job.
We worked very hard with other maritime unions and allies throughout the industry to help secure the latest MSP extension, and it’s a big win for Seafarers and for America.
Similarly, we backed language in the Coast Guard bill that helps ensure every reasonable opportunity is given to U.S.-flag vessel operators before Jones Act waivers are issued. And once again, this is important to your job security as well as to America’s economic and national security. That’s why we pushed for it.
In this same vein, I thank all of our members who support SPAD, the union’s voluntary political action fund. I know that our other officials and I talk a lot about SPAD, but that’s because it’s nothing short of critical to our operations and to rank-and-file jobs. Politics affects practically every aspect of our livelihoods, and SPAD helps make sure your voices are heard by those who write the laws and regulations and requirements that govern maritime. Without it, we couldn’t even get in the door to promote things like the MSP, the Jones Act, cargo preference and other initiatives. So, thank you for recognizing SPAD’s importance and for donating. And if you’re not participating, please think about it. Don’t just count on your fellow members to carry the load.
Nearly a month into the New Year, I remain very optimistic about 2013 and I believe it’ll be a year of growth for us. When you combine our strong political outreach, our first-rate training at Piney Point and
in Hawaii, our excellent working relationships with SIU-contracted companies and with the agencies overseeing maritime, plus the outstanding work of rank-and-file Seafarers, we’ve got all the pieces in place to continue succeeding. Now we’ve just got to keep our sleeves rolled up and our course true and steady, and that’s exactly what we’re doing.
Remembering a Leader and Friend
Be sure to take a look at our tribute to the late Senator Daniel Inouye in this month’s LOG. Senator Inouye was a genuine American hero, and he was a great, great friend who kept his honorary SIU book close to his heart. Our union and our industry have lost a giant supporter who went to bat for us on every single issue and who never looked back.
I am grateful to have known Senator Inouye and will always respect his memory while appreciating his unfailing support. As one writer put it, he was the person we all hope to be.