Dear SIU Brothers and Sisters:
Thank you for your dedication, professionalism and patience as the world grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic. Through your sacrifices and service, you are writing a significant chapter in SIU history.
While the worst part of the pandemic is, obviously, loss of life, I think the other greatest difficulty is not having many answers. People historically are very resilient when they understand the challenge. In this case, no one knows exactly what the “all clear” will look like or when it’ll happen, or even the best way to get there.
But in the meantime, I cannot over-emphasize this point: Every decision and every action the SIU takes is being done with your safety and health in mind. The health of you and your loved ones is my top priority. The same goes for our officials and employees.
That is why, for instance, we not only didn’t object to temporarily stopping routine crew changes and implementing restriction to ship, we supported it. The inconveniences are a sacrifice that must be made in order to maximize your safety. In many ways, this is the shipboard version of helping “flatten curve” (slowing the virus’ spread).
At the same time, and as you well know, our country depends on us. The U.S. Merchant Marine is vital to the nation’s national, economic and homeland security. That’s why it’s so important for you to keep up the good work and guard your health. At some point, we also undoubtedly will be at the tip of the spear of the country’s economic recovery. And, at all times, we still must be able to crew up ships if there’s an activation.
The union is in virtually constant contact with our ship operators and the leaders at the Maritime Administration, TRANSCOM, and MSC. We’re all pulling together and will continue doing so. I’m sure you’re aware of some of the measures that have been implemented by those agencies, including travel, shore-leave and turnover restrictions. Like us, they’re taking extraordinary measures because these are extraordinary times.
In that spirit, I well remember how SIU members realized that times had changed during the Middle East wars – and how you responded in outstanding fashion. I know you’ll do the same now.
Keep an eye on our website and social media pages for updates, and you can also stay in touch with your hiring hall. I also recommend periodically checking the National Maritime Center website – we’re re-posting their announcements (for example, the recent one about credential extensions), but of course the information will land there first.
I also offer a special word of thanks to our members aboard the hospital ships USNS Mercy and USNS Comfort – and indeed, to all of our CIVMARS throughout the fleet. Thank you for stepping up during this time of need.
Last but definitely not least, I am sensitive to your concerns about your families as you make work-related sacrifices. This goes back to my main point: Every step the union takes is being done in order to maximize the chances of everyone reuniting in good health.
Thank you for upholding the finest traditions of the Brotherhood of the Sea.