Pick up any issue of our union’s newspaper or read it online, and you’ll get a good sampling of what we’re all about.
This month is no exception. We’re reporting on new tonnage both for our private- and federal-sector mariners. We’ve got a feature on one of our military support ships, and a rescue story. Other articles reflect our constant political action; our strong international promotion of maritime; and our commitment to helping preserve our history.
As usual, there’s also no shortage of coverage on our affiliated school in Piney Point, Maryland. Take a look at the class photos – they show Seafarers who are in different stages of their careers, but who are all taking advantage of the tremendous opportunities at the Paul Hall Center for Maritime Training and Education. Check out this month’s Inquiring Seafarer feature, too. Those are (like always) real, unscripted answers from members, and they all have good things to say about the school.
This is also the time of year when we start promoting the annual scholarships offered through the Seafarers Health and Benefits Plan. Those scholarships are available to SIU members and your dependents, and they’re worth looking into for anyone interested in furthering their formal education.
Our union is changing along with the industry, as reflected by our announcement of the SIU’s first female vice president. Last but not least, although we reported on it earlier this year, the organization Seafarers’ Rights International has released its full report on cabotage laws around the world. This study took more than two years to compile, and it proves what we’ve said all along: Cabotage laws are vital, valuable, common-sense policy. For us, this primarily relates to the Jones Act, which has protected the United States for nearly a century but which also regularly comes under attack. The new study puts the Jones Act in an even more positive light, and shows that other countries take the same approach with their domestic commerce. There are variables, sure, and the study doesn’t hide them. But the bottom line is that maritime cabotage laws promote and protect national, economic and homeland security.
After Election Day
Although it’s only mid-October as of this writing, most of our readers won’t see this edition until after Election Day.
In many ways, that’s when our grassroots work really begins. Particularly when it comes to the inevitable turnover in Congress, both our union individually and our industry collectively must constantly carry our message to Capitol Hill so that elected representatives understand why our country needs a strong U.S. Merchant Marine, viable shipyards, and American-flag operators with U.S.-flag ships.
All of the points are second nature to those of us who’ve spent our lives in this industry, but you’d probably be shocked at how many freshman legislators (and even some who’ve been around a while) don’t know much if anything about maritime. Our survival – your jobs – depend on gathering and maintaining support for the Jones Act, cargo preference, the Maritime Security Program and other statutes that help keep the industry afloat. The first steps toward those goals involve speaking up and educating Congress, which is precisely why we’re so politically active. It’s also important for Seafarers to introduce yourselves to your Congressional representatives when you’re home.
Seafarers know that our organization doesn’t care about political party. We support those who support maritime, and that’ll always be the case. Regardless of the outcomes from November 6, we’ll spring into action immediately to introduce ourselves to the newcomers and also reinforce support from old friends.
I wouldn’t blame you for doing a double-take when reading the subhead immediately above, but Thanksgiving really is right around the corner.
As we head towards the winter holiday season, I offer my best wishes to all Seafarers, SIU pensioners, your families and all of our officials and staff members for a safe, happy and healthy home stretch to 2018. For those of you at sea during the holidays, I know it’s a sacrifice even though it goes with the territory. I appreciate your dedication.
Last but definitely not least, to all of our men and women in uniform, please know that the SIU always stands ready to deliver the goods to you, wherever and whenever needed. Be safe this holiday season, and know that our entire organization genuinely respects your service.