President's Column

 

August 2017

 

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SIU President Michael Sacco: Jones Act an All-American Law

 

Ironically, the most recent attempt to scuttle the Jones Act coincided with a White House initiative to highlight American-made products.

 

For those that missed it, a bill was introduced in the United States Senate in mid-July calling for outright repeal of the nation’s freight cabotage law. While we take every threat seriously, I’m optimistic that this particular proposed legislation won’t go anywhere.

 

The reason for my confidence is, many legislators on both sides of the aisle as well as people in the military and administration understand the numerous, irreplaceable benefits that the Jones Act provides to the United States. It’s an easy case to make, and in fact I would argue that the Jones Act is one of the ultimate “All-American” statutes.

 

On the books for nearly a century, the Jones Act requires that cargo moving between domestic ports is carried on vessels that are crewed, built, owned and flagged American. It boosts our country’s economic, national and homeland security. It helps maintain nearly 500,000 American jobs while contributing billions of dollars to our economy each year. Most other industrialized nations have similar cabotage laws.

 

One thing that shouldn’t be overlooked regarding the Jones Act is its national security implications. Without this law, our country’s shipbuilding capacity would be devastated, and our pool of U.S. mariners would take a potentially fatal blow. Military leaders have said we’re already at a critical point when it comes to availability of U.S. civilian mariners, who ably crew up the vessels that support our troops wherever and whenever needed. As a nation, we simply cannot afford to undermine our own wellbeing by weakening or eliminating the Jones Act.

 

Cabotage is on the radar far from North America, as well. The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) recently conducted a conference in Cape Town, South Africa, during which its support of cabotage laws was reaffirmed. The meeting, attended by ITF Seafarers’ Section Chair and SIU Secretary-Treasurer David Heindel, included presentations from members of the federation’s cabotage task force (including Heindel) along with other maritime leaders and guests. One such presentation included the results of a recent survey, which found that 67 percent of countries have cabotage protections.

 

The Jones Act remains one of our country’s smartest, most beneficial policies. The SIU will continue to support this vital, common-sense, and very pro-American law.

 

New Contracts

 

This is the second straight month we’re reporting either ratification or tentative agreement on new contracts that help ensure a bright future for SIU members. Highlighted elsewhere in this issue of the LOG, the contracts without exception include yearly wage increases while maintaining benefits.

 

These gains and features don’t come easily and shouldn’t be taken for granted. They reflect very well on our rank-and-file members, on our contract department officials, and also on our vessel operators for bargaining in good faith.

 

Congratulations to all concerned, and keep up the good work.

 

Union Plus

 

If you’re a regular reader of the LOG, you’ve undoubtedly noticed our promotions of Union Plus programs. If you’ve never followed up to get more information, check out their website (UnionPlus.org) and you’ll be able to see all of the benefits available to Seafarers and their families – and to our retirees.

 

Union Plus is part of the AFL-CIO, and they offer quality, discounted goods and services with an emphasis on union-made, American-made products and union-staffed facilities. We have partnered with them for many years, and we remain proud of that relationship because it benefits rank-and-file members and their families.

 

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