The Great Lakes Maritime Task Force (GLMTF) has named U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin) the 2017 Great Lakes Legislator of the Year. The award is presented annually to a legislator who has helped advance waterborne commerce on the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway. This year’s award ceremony took place Aug. 22 at Bay Shipbuilding Company in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin.
“Senator Baldwin’s first term in the Senate has been remarkable for her understanding of and commitment to shipping on the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway,” said Brian D. Krus, president of the task force. “Her grasp of the issues, and more importantly, her response to the challenges facing shipping on the fourth sea coast has been instrumental in moving several projects forward.”
The GLMTF is the largest coalition to ever speak for the Great Lakes shipping community. Its members include the SIU and other unions, maritime businesses, port associations and others.
Krus, who also serves as the senior national assistant vice president of the SIUNA-affiliated American Maritime Officers, praised Baldwin’s efforts to build another heavy icebreaker for the Great Lakes. “In 2016, she added $2 million to begin the design of the icebreaker to the Department of Homeland Security’s appropriations bill. This year she has added $5 million to the Coast Guard Authorization Act to further design of the new icebreaker,” he noted.
“Having adequate U.S. Coast Guard icebreaking resources on the Great Lakes is key to the system meeting the needs of commerce,” said James H.I. Weakley, first vice president of the GLMTF. “The ice season begins in early December and can extend well into April.”
Weakley, who is also president of the Lake Carriers’ Association, noted that recent winters were so severe that cargoes were delayed or outright canceled because the Coast Guard did not have enough icebreakers, which cost the nation nearly 6,000 jobs and $1.1 billion in economic activity.
“Superior, Green Bay and Milwaukee are among the leading international ports on the Great Lakes,” said John D. Baker, second vice president of the GLMTF and president emeritus of the ILA’s Great Lakes District Council. “The cargoes longshoremen load and unload in those ports support hundreds of jobs in Wisconsin. The Lakes/Seaway system has the capacity to handle more cargo, so there are more jobs to be had if our national policies promote waterborne commerce. Tammy Baldwin understands that and is always looking to advance shipping on our fourth sea coast.”
Baldwin is the fourth legislator from Wisconsin to receive the award, along with Sen. Ron Johnson (R), Rep. David R. Obey (D) and Rep. Mark Green (R).
Founded in 1992, the Great Lakes Maritime Task Force promotes domestic and international shipping on the Great Lakes. It’s 79 members are drawn from both labor and management, representing U.S.-flag vessel operators, shipboard and longshore unions, port authorities, cargo shippers, terminal operators, shipyards and other Great Lakes interests. Its goals include ensuring Lakes dredging is adequately funded; construction of a second Poesized lock at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan; protecting the Jones Act and other U.S. maritime cabotage laws and regulations; maximizing the Lakes overseas trade via the St. Lawrence Seaway; and expanding short sea shipping on the Lakes.
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