Inspiring Times in Piney Point

 

June 2015

 

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SIU President Michael Sacco reviews several noteworthy happenings in Piney Point

 

When you really enjoy something it’s natural to want to share it with people you care about, and that’s how I felt early last month at our affiliated school in Piney Point, Maryland. If it had been possible to transport every Seafarer and retiree and their families to the Paul Hall Center on May 4-5, I’d have done it.

 

As reported throughout this issue, we had a fantastic couple of days at the school, headlined by a visit from Gen. Paul Selva, commanding officer of the U.S. Transportation Command. He was on the stage of our auditorium Monday afternoon when he got the call from the White House telling him to report back to the nation’s capital. As many of our members know, the next day, the General was nominated as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

 

He remains a great ally and while part of me hates to see his departure from USTRANSCOM, I know he’ll continue to be a tremendous advocate for the U.S. Merchant Marine in his new job.

 

But that was far from the only highlight at the school. The dedications of the recently renovated auditorium and claims building were emotional and heartwarming. The annual Seafarers Waterfront Classic raised funds for two great causes and also offered an opportunity for people from throughout our industry to spend some rare unhurried time together while also getting to know our brothers and sisters from the Wounded Warrior Anglers of America even better. (It wasn’t all fun and games, of course. We had various meetings and workshops taking place, too.)

 

Not to be overlooked were the comments of seven SIU members who graduated from the steward recertification class. Without exception, each talked about the solid career opportunities available through this union and how, as we often say, you can go as far as you want. They described how the Paul Hall Center has been so valuable in helping each of them advance. And you could tell they put a lot of thought into the very useful advice they gave to the apprentices in the audience.

 

Put it all together and we had an experience that’ll be tough to top. We had an experience that reflects the solid partnerships between maritime labor and management – partnerships that are rare in other industries but that are crucial for our survival, as mentioned by Crowley Maritime President Tom Crowley during the claims building dedication. And we had an experience which, in short, lived up to our union’s motto: Brotherhood of the Sea.

 

It’s no coincidence it all happened in Piney Point. Believe it or not, we’re only two years away from the 50th anniversary of the school’s opening – and has it ever come a long way. The latest renovations, which we’ve extensively reported in recent months, should be a source of pride for everyone associated with the SIU and the Paul Hall Center. It’s all truly state-of-the-art.

 

The new simulators, high-tech classrooms and other steady improvements at the school are critical to our future. Like any organization, we won’t last unless we change with the times. In our case, that means meeting the requirements of our contracted operators, and delivering the training Seafarers need to stay on top of their jobs.

 

Another key piece of the puzzle – one also mentioned by several of the stewards – is political action. Bipartisan outreach isn’t optional; it’s a mandatory mission as we fight to maintain and revitalize the U.S. Merchant Marine.

 

That’s what we’re doing every day, and in conjunction with our work at the school, it’s what will help ensure a bright future for the SIU and the American-flag fleet.

 

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