With SIU President David Heindel seated near the podium, President Biden on July 20 offered supportive remarks about both the union and America’s freight cabotage law during a speech at Philly Shipyard (which employs union workers).
Biden was there to help celebrate the ceremonial start of construction of the first offshore wind vessel of its kind (a scour ship, the Acadia) to be Made in America and Jones Act-compliant. The vessel, which will place rocks on the seabed to secure the base for offshore wind turbines, is being constructed for Seafarers-contracted Great Lakes Dredge and Dock.
With hundreds of unionized workers in attendance, Biden noted that the SIU will provide shipboard manpower when the vessel is completed. He mentioned that several other unions will be involved in the ship’s construction.
He also stated, “Some folks may not know, there was a law in 1920 called the Jones Act that was passed. It says ships travelling between U.S. ports have to be American-built, American-owned and have American crews. There are some who are content to rely on ships built overseas, without American crews to operate them. Again, not on my watch. We’re strengthening American shipbuilding, supporting good union jobs and bringing offshore-wind supply chains back home.”
Heindel met with Biden before the ceremony.
“I thanked the president for his support of the Jones Act and the U.S. Merchant Marine. I also thanked him for bringing good union jobs for the wind industry,” Heindel stated.