President’s Column

 

July 2018

 

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If it seems like a month never goes by without an attack on American-flag shipping, that’s probably not far from the truth. Most recently, the SIU in late May teamed up with industry allies to forcefully defeat an attempt to kill cargo preference requirements in the Food for Peace program.

 

The attack on cargo preference would have eliminated at least a half-dozen U.S.-flag ships – and the jobs that go with them – right off the bat, and wouldn’t have actually benefited anyone. It was just the latest misguided attempt to undermine a successful program that helps feed the needy around the world while maintaining good American jobs not only in maritime but also in other industries.

 

While there’s never anything desirable about people trying to sink American-flag shipping, the powerful bipartisan pushback on this latest attempt sent an important message. Namely, that our country cannot and will not stand for any more reductions to our U.S. Merchant Marine. America’s national, economic and homeland security depend on a viable American-flag fleet and reliable, well-trained U.S. crews. It’s no secret that our industry is at a tipping point, but it’s an ongoing task to drive that point home with some members of Congress (and some in the media).

 

The bottom line is that America is best-served by a strong U.S.-flag maritime industry with U.S. mariners. And that means we must maintain the Jones Act and the Maritime Security Program. Our country would also benefit from ramping up our cargo preference laws, rather than simply staying with the status quo or (foolishly) weakening them.

 

As always, the SIU is in the middle of the ring for this never-ending fight, and we’ll keep landing accurate punches. You can help us by continuing to support SPAD, the union’s voluntary political action fund. It’s a critically important tool for us in our efforts to protect your jobs.

 

Ready Then, Ready Now

Be sure to check out all the National Maritime Day coverage in this edition. May 22 was especially eventful in the nation’s capital, where the SIU participated in an afternoon press conference kicking off new legislation that would greatly boost U.S. shipbuilding and American-flag shipping.

 

As noted in the article about the new bill (Page 3), there have been some rumblings about whether or not our civilian mariners would sail into harm’s way today if needed. That’s not a widespread question, thankfully, but I find it insulting that anyone in a position of authority would bring it up in the first place. It’s unbelievable, really, when you look at the centuries-old record of patriotism, dedication and reliability demonstrated by the U.S. Merchant Marine.

 

We’ve always answered the call and we always will. Period.

 

Register and Vote

It may seem hard to believe, but its almost election time again.

 

In November, the entire U.S. House of Representatives will be up for election, along with 35 U.S. Senate seats and 39 state and territorial governorships. Many other state and local elections also will take place.

 

With that in mind, it’s definitely not too soon to make sure you’re registered to vote. Just go online to Vote.org and take it from there. The site is run by a non-profit organization and it’s very user-friendly.

 

Seafarers know the importance of electing people who support our industry. This year is critical, as we’re facing the retirements of some longtime maritime stalwarts. It’s not easy having to constantly educate new members of Congress about the U.S. Merchant Marine, but it’s a job made simpler when we help put people in office who back us to begin with.

 

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