SIU Members Deliver Again


February 2015


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Editor’s note: After this column was written, the final vote on the Keystone XL Pipeline bill took place and was quickly followed by a message from SIU President Michael Sacco to the membership. That message is posted HERE


SIU President Michael Sacco credits rank-and-file Seafarers for a swift, strong response in defense of the Jones Act..


There is only one way to begin this month’s message, and that’s by saying a huge, heartfelt “thank you” and “well done” to all the SIU members who recently reached out to their United States Senators in a powerful effort to protect the Jones Act. When your union asked you to step up, you did so immediately and with obvious passion. Great work, brothers and sisters!


For those who missed it, I’m referring to a sudden but widespread grassroots campaign that started in mid-January. When Senator John McCain proposed a floor amendment to Keystone XL Pipeline legislation that would kill the U.S.-build provision of the Jones Act, the domestic maritime industry responded in a big way.


We definitely did our part in the SIU, reaching out to rank-and-file members at sea and ashore through time-sensitive emails, social media, text messages, web posts and communications to the union halls. And, as mentioned, Seafarers and their families quickly stepped up with phone calls and emails to the Senate urging opposition to the McCain amendment. (There wasn’t time to use the U.S. Mail.)


Even though the amendment probably doesn’t have much chance of passing (its fate was still unknown at press time), our industry’s response was crucial. This was a highly visible test of support for the Jones Act, a 95-year-old law that protects U.S. national and economic security while keeping our domestic maritime industry alive. It’s the first time in memory that a Jones Act amendment made it to the Senate floor.


It is frustrating when our industry comes under attack, but reading and hearing the pro-maritime responses opposing the amendment was very uplifting. In light of those reactions and other recent statements, it’s more than fair to say the Jones Act in particular has solid backing in Congress, the administration and the military. That’s a winning hand as far as I’m concerned.


We know from experience, though, that there eventually will be more attempts to weaken or eliminate the Jones Act, and there are ongoing fights involving other pillars including Food for Peace, the Maritime Security Program, and the U.S. Export-Import Bank. I’m not sure there could be a better illustration of why the SIU is so politically active and why we ask for member participation in grassroots campaigns as well as in the union’s voluntary political action fund, SPAD. Without political involvement, our whole industry would be dead in the water.


Once again, I thank every Seafarer who stepped up in support of the Jones Act. Your voices made a difference, and you delivered the message just like you always deliver the goods.


SHBP Scholarship


If you or a family member are interested in continuing your education, I encourage you to read the information in this month’s LOG (Page 14) about the Seafarers Health and Benefits Plan scholarship program. This is an incredible benefit that SIU members and their families can apply for, and it’s not too late to look into this year’s awards.


As mentioned in the article, the entire scholarship application package is posted on our website, and we’ve also got printed copies at all the union halls. You can request one in the mail, too.


If you’re thinking about going back to school or already planning it, give the scholarship program a look. This benefit helps SIU members and dependents every year, and it may help you.


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