Election Day Approaches
I don’t have to tell you that Nov. 3 isn’t far off. Make sure you’re registered to vote, and, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, you may want to consider absentee balloting this time around. Of course, many of our members utilize absentee or early voting because they’re at sea on Election Day, so this is nothing new to us. It’s easy to find useful information online, but feel free to contact your port agent if you need assistance.
For anyone who’s new to the SIU, you should know that we support candidates – at all levels of government – who support maritime and who support workers’ rights, regardless of political party. Republican, Democrat, Independent – none of that matters to the SIU. What matters is that candidates commit to backing the U.S. Merchant Marine, and then follow through once in office. As we enter the teeth of election season, stay informed – and remain civil with each other. You can disagree with someone about an issue, but remember that we’re in this together and we all want what’s best for this great nation.
Support From ‘Last Frontier’
Speaking of the consequences of elections, the United States maritime industry has enjoyed a long history of solid support from Alaska’s members of Congress, and that tradition is alive and well today.
The Jones Act fleet is Alaska’s interstate highway. It’s what connects the 49th State with the mainland of the United States. And much like the freeway system and waterways we use in the lower 48, our American- flag ships and U.S. crews deliver the goods that Alaska needs while bringing some of the state’s natural resources to the mainland.
Seafarers undoubtedly know about Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) and U.S. Rep. Don Young (R), both of whom have long track records backing the U.S. Merchant Marine. Murkowski’s father, the late Frank Murkowski, served Alaska as a governor and U.S. Senator, and also was a friend of the industry.
Sen. Dan Sullivan (R) isn’t exactly a newcomer, having been in office since 2015, but he is the newest member of the Alaska delegation. Sen. Sullivan is very much carrying on the tradition of great maritime support from Alaska, in the same spirit as the late Sen. Ted Stevens (R), one of the union’s all-time friends. That is why the SIU, along with three other maritime unions (AMO, MM&P and MEBA), recently endorsed his re-election.
In our joint letter, we noted Sullivan’s “strong, consistent support for America’s maritime industry and your vigorous and persistent efforts in behalf of America’s maritime workforce. Your work in Congress to achieve a fully funded Maritime Security Program; to ensure full enforcement of America’s U.S.-flag cargo preference shipping requirements; and to preserve our nation’s coastwise shipping laws have helped ensure that our nation has the U.S.-flag commercial sealift readiness capability and the American mariners needed by the Department of Defense to support American troops and America’s interests overseas.”
We further wrote: “You have been a leader in Congress working to increase the number of commercial vessels operating under the U.S.-flag and to increase the shipboard employment opportunities for American mariners. Absent such action, we as a nation will not only experience the continued outsourcing of American maritime jobs to the benefit of foreign maritime personnel but will also be forced to entrust a greater portion of the requisite commercial sealift readiness capability needed by the Department of Defense, along with the safety and supply of American troops, to foreign flag-of-convenience vessels and their foreign citizen crews. Without your continued efforts, our country will not have the necessary commercial U.S.-flag sealift capability it needs and American troops deployed overseas would be dangerously dependent on foreign vessels and foreign crews to bring them the supplies, equipment and materiel they need to do their job on behalf of the American people.”
Sullivan has demonstrated a clear and unwavering commitment to the American maritime industry and the American maritime worker.