U.S. Rep. Jack Bergman (R-Michigan) has been named 2018 Great Lakes Legislator of the Year by the largest labor/management coalition representing shipping on America’s Fourth Sea Coast. The award is presented annually by the Great Lakes Maritime Task Force (GLMTF) to a legislator who has helped advance waterborne commerce on the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway.
Rep. Bergman was honored Sept. 18 at a ceremony in Traverse City, Michigan.
The SIU is a member of the coalition. “Although this is just his first term, Rep. Bergman has quickly become recognized as a leader on Great Lakes and Seaway issues,” said Jim Weakley, president of the GLMTF. “This reflects that his district fronts on three of the five Great Lakes: Superior, Michigan and Huron.”
Weakley, who is also president of the Lake Carriers’ Association, said the GLTMF is especially grateful that Bergman spoke directly to President Trump about the need for a second Poe-sized lock at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. “Within hours of Congressman Bergman talking to the president, our nation’s leader publicly declared his support for fixing the Soo Locks. That support … puts the project in the best spot it’s been in years.”
Bergman’s commitment to adequate U.S. Coast Guard icebreaking resources is another reason for his selection, the coalition noted. “The locks at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, open on March 25 and close on January 15,” said John D. Baker, first vice president of the GLMTF, and president emeritus of the International Longshoremen’s Association’s Great Lakes District Council. “But if heavy ice covers the Lakes, the resumption of the iron ore trade and overseas exports of grain from the Lakes largest grain-shipping ports will be delayed. Rep. Bergman is fully supportive of building another heavy icebreaker to help the Mackinaw and other icebreakers keep commerce moving under even the most trying conditions.”
Other’s pointed to the congressman’s support for adequate dredging of Great Lakes ports and waterways, and his backing of a strong U.S. Merchant Marine as reasons for his selection for the award.
Bergman becomes the tenth Michigan legislator to receive the award since its inception in 1998.
Founded in 1992, the Great Lakes Maritime Task Force promotes domestic and international shipping on the Great Lakes. With 78 members, it is the largest U.S. coalition to ever speak for the Great Lakes shipping community and draws its membership 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 Poe-sized lock at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan; bolstering the Coast Guard’s icebreaking resources; protecting the Jones Act and other U.S. maritime cabotage laws and regulations; maximizing the Lakes overseas trade via the St. Lawrence Seaway; opposing exports and/or increased diversions of Great Lakes water; and expanding short sea shipping on the Lakes.