SIU President Michael Sacco recaps this year’s Seafarers Waterfront Classic and examines recent maritime developments in the nation’s capital
Congratulations to everyone involved in this year’s Seafarers Waterfront Classic, which lived up to its reputation as a fun event benefiting two worthwhile causes. Even though the fish mostly decided to sit this one out, no one went hungry and all participants seemed in good spirits.
Check out our extensive coverage elsewhere in this edition. Meanwhile, I will say that the tournament really symbolizes many positive aspects of the SIU. Through our partnership with the American Military Veterans Foundation, the Classic reflects our decades-long backing of our men and women in uniform. We are proud of our role as America’s fourth arm of defense, and we also appreciate chances to get to know, and build friendships with, the veterans and troops. (Of course, many Seafarers also have served in the military.)
The Seafarers Waterfront Classic also shows the camaraderie that exists between our rank-and-file members and officials, as well as the respect and the solid working relationships that exist between the union and our contracted operators.
Last but not least, the home base for the tournament – the SIU-affiliated Paul Hall Center for Maritime Training and Education in Piney Point, Maryland – continues to shine as our hub. Incredibly, we’re just a few months away from the school’s 50th anniversary, and as someone who was on the scene almost from the start, I can say with confidence that it has evolved from extremely modest beginnings to become a world-class facility which has served as a model to many other training schools around the globe. On that note, I also offer a tip of the cap to all the employees at the school who worked so hard to contribute to the Classic’s success.
Progress and Challenges
There’s been a wave of good news for our industry lately, including big wins on Capitol Hill and new tonnage continuing to enter the Jones Act fleet.
As I mentioned at last month’s membership meeting in Piney Point, one of the keys to our success is political action. Without it, we’d never be able to report on victories involving new ships or the Maritime Security Program or the Jones Act or cargo preference. Politics is our ticket to winning. And our members are very involved at the grassroots level, which is a credit to all concerned.
You also know that our battles never end, and one in particular that’s back in the news is the baffling suggestion to replace America’s Food for Peace program with cash giveaways. I think such a move would be a catastrophe. I believe many of the people who otherwise would receive food from the United States would instead starve to death. So, you could say I’m very motivated to make sure the SIU continues to do our part to defend this effective, common-sense, humanitarian program.
Meanwhile, our entire industry is facing a manpower issue. Here at home, we have ramped up our recruiting efforts and we’re taking steps to make it easier and more affordable to get into the apprentice program at Piney Point. We continue to work with veterans groups to offer opportunities to men and women who are separating from military service. But this problem won’t be solved overnight.
Again as I mentioned at the membership meeting, keep an eye out for people who you think might be a good fit in the SIU. I know all the training and medical requirements (mostly stemming from international maritime treaties) can be a pain, but there’s still a great opportunity for people who want to go to work in this industry. You can make a good living and see the world, and pretty much pick your own schedule. In the SIU, we’ve got plenty of jobs and we also have a career-advancement asset that’s second to none in the Paul Hall Center.
So, if you know of any prospective members, send them to our website or connect them with your port agent, and we’ll take it from there. We have a lot to offer.
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