We Are Up to the Challenges

 

December 2014

 

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SIU President Michael Sacco wraps up the year with announcements about new tonnage, the aftermath of the mid-term elections and exciting developments at the Paul Hall Center for Maritime Training and Education.

 

The year is winding down with plenty of challenges for our union and our industry, but in the big picture, I believe the SIU is in good shape.

 

New tonnage is scheduled to continue entering the SIU-contracted fleet for the foreseeable future, which will more than offset the losses we face due to the latest news from Horizon Lines. Nothing bothers me more than when we lose jobs, as is the case with Horizon. But, this is nothing our union hasn’t faced and overcome before. As the company sells some of its ships and takes others out of service, we’ll continue working to maintain and add jobs elsewhere in the fleet.

 

In the wake of the mid-term elections, we also will remain very busy on Capitol Hill in the weeks and months ahead. This is also nothing new – we’re always active in the nation’s capital, whether we’re educating new members of Congress about the U.S. Merchant Marine or solidifying support from our friends. We’re active at the state and local levels, too, because that’s what it takes to keep Old Glory flying on the high seas, along the coasts and on our rivers.

 

As mentioned in our coverage of the elections (and this is old news to our more seasoned members), the SIU doesn’t care about party affiliation. We’re proud to have friends on both sides of the aisle, and we’re proud to work in an industry that is vital to all Americans.

 

I’ll admit it can sometimes become frustrating to fight the same battles over Food for Peace, the Maritime Security Program, and other laws that keep our industry afloat. That’s only because it’s obvious to us that the U.S. Merchant Marine is nothing short of critical for America’s national and economic security. We have to remind lawmakers that the MSP is a huge bargain for the government, while laws like the Jones Act help sustain good jobs, boost our national defense capabilities and aid our economy.

 

We’ll keep delivering those messages and gathering support throughout the New Year.

 

Meanwhile, I know our members will continue doing exactly what you’ve always done: answering the call and delivering the goods, no matter the mission. The latest example is Operation United Assistance, in which the Seafarers-crewed Cape Wrath and Cape Rise are sailing. I’m glad the hysteria about Ebola seems to have subsided in the U.S., but the mission overseas of course remains vitally important. I salute our members for answering the bell, and I know you’ll do a great job.

 

My message this month wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the big news from our affiliated school in Piney Point, Maryland. As reported in this issue, very soon, Seafarers will have chances to take advantage of new, state-of-the-art equipment at the Paul Hall Center for Maritime Training and Education. The school is undergoing a multi-million-dollar upgrade, complete with new simulators, bigger classrooms, better accommodations and other improvements. There is no hype here – it’s a big deal for everyone involved, including not only the students but also the instructors and staff members and vessel operators who should benefit from the enhanced training environment.

 

This news alone should tell everyone how confident I am that the SIU and the U.S. Merchant Marine have a strong, bright future of service to our country.

 

Last but not least, I wish everyone in our SIU family a safe, happy and healthy holiday season. Whether you’re at sea or ashore, I wish you all the best and I look forward to working together in the New Year.

 

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