Building on Success
As we launch into not just a new year but a new decade, I’m confident about the SIU’s future. Like always, we will change with the times – but we also will stick with the formula that’s brought us success. Some of those achievements are recapped in this month’s LOG, where we take a look back on the past 10 years. While we faced our share of challenges, we also had much to celebrate, including new tonnage and the corresponding jobs, new hiring halls, tremendous improvements at our affiliated school in Piney Point, Maryland, and waves of good contracts.
That last element gets overlooked sometimes. It can be easy to take things for granted when they’re considered the norm, but a lot of work goes into securing collective bargaining agreements that provide good wages and maintain or improve excellent benefits. We also have demonstrated a sensible willingness to make sacrifices when the situation calls for it, but, thankfully, those instances have been rare. And that’s a credit to all concerned, from our rank-and-file members to our officials to our contracted companies.
Stability is another important characteristic we’ve always enjoyed. Your support of my administration has helped the SIU build and maintain vital working relationships throughout our industry, on Capitol Hill, with our military, and at state and local levels of government. We tend to be restrained in our reporting of such matters, but the fact is, the SIU has played an important role in most if not all of the wins enjoyed by our industry these past 10 years. That’s a list that includes protecting the Jones Act from well-funded attacks, getting full funding for the Maritime Security Program, keeping cargo preference and the Export-Import Bank alive and in positions to expand, and working with every segment of the industry to preserve (and ultimately grow) the American-flag fleet. Grassroots action is always critical. You could say we’ve punched above our weight class, and again I point to our stability as a big reason why.
Along those same lines, another huge key for us is the consistently outstanding work of our members. When we are fighting for pro-maritime laws, negotiating contracts or pushing for new tonnage, we always underscore your dependability. And that includes not only your day-to-day work, but your availability as America’s fourth arm of defense. When you answered the call for last year’s massive activations (thankfully, they were only part of a readiness exercise), you proved once again that your union and indeed your country can count on you.
No reflection on our past nor any look at our future would be complete without mentioning the Paul Hall Center for Maritime Training and Education and its Lundeberg School of Seamanship in Piney Point. The school is what allows us to provide extremely well-trained crews for all kinds of vessels on the oceans, coasts, the Great Lakes and on our inland waterways. Very simply, our union and our industry would have no future without it.
Piney Point also remains a gateway to career advancement and greater earnings for anyone who wants to take advantage of it. As we say in our industry, you can go as far as you want.
I’m excited about the SIU’s future and the opportunities that lie ahead. I firmly believe and know that as long as we stick together and are willing to work for everything we earn, we’ll continue to sail full steam ahead with more positive gains.