SIU President Michael Sacco talks Jones Act, grassroots action and even more upgrades in Piney Point
One of the most important keys to the SIU’s overall effectiveness is our affiliated school in Piney Point, Maryland. The courses offered at the Paul Hall Center for Maritime Training and Education enable new Seafarers to smoothly enter the industry, and they also help experienced mariners in keeping up with new technology and constantly changing requirements.
People who have only seen the school for the first time in recent years probably wouldn’t believe its evolution. We’ll be revisiting the history in more detail next year – the 50th anniversary of the Paul Hall Center and its Lundeberg School of Seamanship – but for now, any newcomers can definitely take my word that the campus was relatively barren in the old days. To cite just one example, picture climbing onto a bus in Piney Point to get to the firefighting school … in New Jersey.
For many years, I have encouraged rank-and-file members to upgrade whenever possible, in order to advance their careers. Fellow Seafarers often say the same thing to each other, whether they’re in a shipboard union meeting or being interviewed for the LOG or just chatting among themselves. Upgrading makes sense, it’s important – and it’s available because of our affiliated school.
The Paul Hall Center itself embodies the very concept of upgrading. Anyone who thought the school’s recent improvements ended when the new simulators were installed should’ve known better. This month, we’re announcing the acquisition of a new training vessel that will be a huge boost for many of the courses, and we’re also reporting a milestone in the AB to Mate program. Check out the coverage in this month’s LOG – and know that this won’t be the last upgrade in Piney Point.
Jones Act Attacks Ongoing
There were times last year when it felt like our industry and some other allies were in a never-ending fight to secure reauthorization of the U.S. Export-Import Bank. That description isn’t far from reality, as the political battle played out on an almost daily basis.
Fortunately, that particular story had a happy ending, as the Bank was extended for the next several years. Opposition to Ex-Im defied common sense and fiscal reality, but it was still a tough fight.
I’m getting a similar feeling these days when it comes to the Jones Act, and in particular the law’s application in Puerto Rico. America’s freight cabotage law – arguably the single most important policy when it comes to the survival of the U.S. Merchant Marine – regularly comes under attack, but there’s been a new level of nastiness lately.
As with the Ex-Im fight, Jones Act opposition makes no sense to me. This law has served our nation extremely well for nearly a century. As reflected in recent comments from American military leaders, weakening or eliminating the Jones Act would put the United States (and our territories) at risk in many ways.
We may not be issuing daily updates but the SIU is very active in standing up for the Jones Act along with other laws and programs that support American-flag shipping and U.S. crews. I know we’ll prevail because we’re putting in the work to make it happen.
Grassroots Action is Key
Not that any of us needed the reminder, but as reflected in those last few paragraphs, our industry is heavily regulated and our livelihoods depend on continued backing from the White House and Congress (and other levels of government). It’s critical for Seafarers to support candidates who will support the U.S. Merchant Marine and America’s working families.
We’ve got information in this edition on how to make sure you’re registered to vote. We’ve also got coverage of Seafarers getting involved in grassroots support of our endorsed candidate for president, Hillary Clinton. Please make sure you’re registered and that you vote on Election Day, or by absentee ballot if you’ll be away from home in November.
I know that politics brings out strong emotions in people, and I completely respect each individual’s right to back the candidates of his or her choosing. When it comes to the SIU’s support of candidates at all levels of government, be assured that we do our homework and we make informed decisions based on who we think will do the best job – no matter the party – of promoting and protecting the job security of SIU members.
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