SIU President Michael Sacco discusses supporting pro-maritime, pro-worker candidates, plus shipboard job opportunities
If you haven’t gotten around to registering for the November elections or you’re not sure whether or not your registration is current, now is the time to act. A quick way to get started is by going online at https://www.usa.gov/register-to-vote
As of this writing, there are 31 states that offer online registration (as does the District of Columbia). Even if your state isn’t one of them, you can use the above website to access and print the forms needed to register through traditional mail or in person. And of course you can always contact your local registrar.
It’s crucial that those of us in maritime labor cast our ballots on Election Day. I don’t have to tell you that we work in a very heavily regulated industry – one whose survival depends in part on having support in Congress and from the administration.
On that note, I’ll revisit a topic that’s been popular in this space in recent months. I’m extremely interested in politics, especially during presidential election years, and I’ve heard pretty much every argument for and against the two candidates currently vying for the White House. I know it’s often an emotional subject – and I know that’s because we all love our country and we want what we think is best for the United States of America. I respect the fact that reasonable people can disagree.
But when it comes to both the U.S. Merchant Marine and the labor movement, the choice this time is very clear to me. Hillary Clinton has spelled out in great detail that she will support the Maritime Security Program, the Jones Act, cargo preference laws and workers’ rights. Her track record as a cabinet secretary and a U.S. senator backs up those promises. Similarly, Virginia Senator Tim Kaine is a solid supporter of American-flag shipping, and his voting record on labor issues is nearly perfect.
The other candidates? As they say nowadays, not so much. The GOP platform itself is specifically anti-Jones Act. Donald Trump hasn’t said anything about our industry, despite being contacted by maritime labor as well as U.S.-flag businesses looking for feedback. His running mate is viciously anti-workers’ rights.
That’s just one component of Election Day, of course. We need friends in the House, Senate, state and local governments, too. Keep that in mind if and when your port agent asks you to pitch in with get-out-the-vote efforts between now and November. I know many of our members already have sacrificed their time and joined in our grassroots outreach for various candidates and issues, and I thank each and every one of you. That’s the kind of mobilization that keeps our movement strong and gives us all hope for the future.
Maritime Job Opportunities
If you know anyone who might be interested in joining the U.S. Merchant Marine – or maybe you’ve left the industry but are considering dusting off your credentials – this is a good time to ship out. We have plenty of jobs in the SIU and openings for the apprentice program at our affiliated school in Piney Point, Maryland.
Both the SIU and the school (the Paul Hall Center for Maritime Training and Education) recruit at job fairs, on the web and in print. But word-of-mouth recruiting by our members and retirees has always been an important way that we bring people into the industry, too. If you know someone who may be a good candidate for the trainee program or who already has the documentation to ship out, send them our way. Put them in touch with the nearest SIU hall or have them call the school and ask for the admissions office.
Our industry faces its share of significant challenges, but I’m proud to report that we have jobs for our members and plenty of opportunities for newcomers.