President's Column

 

October 2014

 

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Congrats to Cape Ray Crew

 

SIU President Michael Sacco discusses several topics, including the successful mission conducted by the crew of the Cape Ray and the importance of voting in the upcoming election

 

There are several subjects to cover this month, but let me begin by offering heartfelt congratulations to the Seafarers who helped make the Cape Ray’s high-profile mission a complete success. When the Keystone-operated ship finally returned to the United States late last month, it marked the culmination of a unique mobilization – an unprecedented one, in fact.

 

We’ve been reporting on the Cape Ray’s assignment – disposal of Syrian chemical weapons – for many months, both online and in print, and with the Sept. 19 ceremony marking the official end of its deployment I again want to say well done! To the SIU crew, please know that all of your union brothers and sisters are proud of you.

 

This mission underscored the value and versatility of the U.S. Merchant Marine. It’s a reminder that American mariners are ready to deliver the goods – or help dispose of them, if that’s the assignment – anytime, anywhere. We’re proud to serve as America’s fourth arm of defense, and we’re always ready to turn to.

 

Support in the House

 

Of course, our capacity to report for duty depends in large part on our nation’s willingness to help maintain a strong American-flag fleet with American crews. In that spirit, I appreciated the rock-solid support expressed earlier last month by Congressmen Duncan Hunter (R-California) and John (D-California) during a hearing in the U.S. House of Representatives.

 

Even though the fight to preserve our industry never ends, it’s encouraging when leaders like Representatives Garamendi and Hunter are so outspoken in supporting laws and programs like the Jones Act, cargo preference, and the Maritime Security Program. They understand what our nation’s founders knew, and what members of both major political parties have stated ever since: America’s national and economic security depends on keeping a viable U.S. Merchant Marine. To do otherwise would leave us incredibly vulnerable to the whims (or worse) of other countries.

 

I appreciated Congressman Hunter calling the hearing about the merchant marine and I look forward to continuing our work with him and with Congressman Garamendi, two of our industry’s greatest champions.

 

Get out the Vote

 

One last time before Election Day, I urge every Seafarer to support pro-maritime, pro-worker candidates from now until November 4. You all know grassroots political action is vital for us and for all of America’s working families. No matter the industry or workplace, politics affects every job whether it involves safety regulations, collective bargaining rights or, more broadly, incentives for businesses to keep good jobs here in the United States. Those are just a few examples.

 

I definitely understand that while some people have an appetite for politics, others roll their eyes or change the channel whenever those stories come on. But the bottom line for our union and our movement is that we cannot afford to sit on the sidelines.

 

Remembering a Friend

 

Our SIU family was stunned by the news of Bill Eglinton’s unexpected passing last month. As so many of you know, Bill was a key figure for decades at our affiliated school in Piney Point, Maryland, first as a teacher and then as director of training. He influenced thousands and thousands of Seafarers who trained there.

 

It’s not an overstatement to say he also was a great advocate for all U.S. mariners. For instance, Bill was an expert on the international maritime conventions that are having more and more of an effect on our industry. He worked hard both here and abroad to make sure our mariners’ interests were protected as much as possible in the face of growing regulations.

 

In fact, the last time we were in a meeting together, in early September, he was adamant about doing everything we can to help ensure proper implementation of the Manila amendments to the STCW convention. That may sound dry, but the reason Bill was fired up is because he cared about the men and women of the U.S. Merchant Marine whose livelihoods are being affected.

 

We will carry on in his spirit, and we will miss him.

 

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