Our members individually and our union as a whole regularly step up to assist others, and such behavior once again proved evident during the holidays and into the early part of the new year.
Most recently, Seafarers teamed up with one of our contracted operators (Crowley Maritime) and the Greater South Florida Maritime Trades Council (part of the Maritime Trades Department) for donations and shipments of relief supplies to Puerto Rico. This will not be a one-time outreach by the SIU as the territory recovers from yet another natural disaster (in this case, earthquakes). As we showed following Hurricane Maria in 2017, we will do everything possible to help our Puerto Rican brothers and sisters rebuild and recover.
Leading up to Christmas, the SIU also participated in traditional community outreach from coast to coast. As reported elsewhere in this edition, those activities included toy drives in Tacoma, Washington; Jersey City, New Jersey; and Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The Tacoma project directly benefits U.S. military families, and it’s something we’ve done since 2007.
All of those efforts are done from the heart. We are part of the community wherever we live and work, and we’re happy to provide a boost to others, whether it involves a simple donation or something far more complex, like our annual participation in “Paint Tacoma Beautiful” during the summer. It’s who we are.
Something else that hasn’t changed is the influx of new tonnage to the American- flag fleet. At press time, the SIU welcomed the reflagging of the tanker Maersk Misaki under the Stars and Stripes. A few weeks earlier, Matson took delivery of its brand new union-built ConRo Lurline.
These developments followed the flag-ins of the Marine Personnel and Provisioning containership Rio Grande Express and three car carriers operated by TOTE for American Roll-on/Roll-Off Carrier.
And in case you missed our “decade in review” coverage, it’s worth repeating that in the past 10 years, the SIU welcomed well over 100 new ships, tugs, ferries and other vessels. Some were brand new, some were flag-ins, and they landed in different segments of our fleet (deep sea, inland, Great Lakes). But they all signify jobs and job security for SIU members.
Whether you can’t get enough political news or you’ve tried to unplug or you’re somewhere in between, you undoubtedly know that 2020 is an election year. As always, the race for the White House will get most of the headlines, but there are also 35 Senate seats up for grabs (counting two special elections), and of course all of the positions in the House are on the ballot every two years. States will conduct legislative elections and 11 of them will elect governors. And then there are all sorts of local races.
As always, I encourage all Seafarers to support pro-maritime, pro-worker candidates, regardless of political party. Make sure you’re registered to vote, attend your union meetings, and keep an eye on the LOG and on our website. At minimum, we’ll have information about SIU-backed candidates available at the hiring halls. (This is also an election year for the SIU, and I encourage you to exercise your right to cast a ballot. Future editions of the LOG will contain voting procedures and eligibility rules.)
You all understand that our industry is heavily regulated, and we depend on political backing for survival. With that in mind, if you can spare the time, please pitch in however possible – block walks, phone banks, handing out leaflets, etc. If you haven’t heard from your hall as Election Day nears, check with them.
It’s also important to contribute to SPAD, the SIU’s voluntary political action fund. SPAD helps us help you.
Fourth Arm of Defense Ready
Although tensions in the Middle East have de-escalated as of this writing, I know that all of our crews sailing overseas are staying alert and ready while maintaining their usual professionalism. This is particularly important in light of a mid-January safety bulletin from the U.S. Maritime Administration for commercial ships in the Persian Gulf, Strait of Hormuz, Gulf of Oman, Arabian Sea, Red Sea, Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean.
We are working with our contracted operators and with the Military Sealift Command to help ensure prompt communications, maximum safety and full preparedness in any circumstance. Meanwhile, I salute our Seafarers for staying focused on the tasks at hand.