The SIU, along with the Maritime Trades Department (MTD) and its Port Maritime Councils, have written letters to President Biden, urging his administration to change a recent ruling by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) that violates the Jones Act.
As stated in a letter sent by SIU President Michael Sacco (who is also president of the MTD), “On January 27, 2021, one month after the passage the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 that included a provision affirming that all federal laws, including the Jones Act, would apply to offshore wind energy sites in the United States Exclusive Economic Zone (“EEZ”) of the Outer Continental Shelf, CBP issued a letter ruling to Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Company (GLDDC), an SIU-contracted company that employs American mariners on Jones Act vessels. That letter ruling confirmed GLDDC’s understanding that, under the new law, the transportation of scour-protection rock to the pristine seabed in the U.S. EEZ would be covered under the Jones Act. Less than two months later, on March 25, CBP reversed this finding and instead concluded that the Jones Act would not apply in the scenario for which GLDDC requested guidance.”
The letter from the SIU continued, “Regardless of the reasoning for the change in guidance, this letter ruling has the potential to cause considerable disruption in GLDDC’s and other American ship operators’ plans to build and operate vessels designed to help install, maintain, and supply offshore wind energy farms in the US EEZ. GLDDC and other American companies have already committed significant resources to help launch these efforts and we expect this work to create hundreds of good paying, middle class jobs for working families across America. Under this letter ruling, that work would instead be done, in large part, by foreign companies using foreign-built ships and foreign crews. This is exactly the scenario that the NDAA provision was designed to thwart, and it is diametrically opposed to the policy of the federal government as stated in Executive Order #14005.
Sacco added, “We are greatly appreciative of the efforts your Administration has made supporting working families across America, and it is no exaggeration to say that your efforts on behalf of the U.S. Merchant Marine, both as president and in your long career in public service, have been exemplary. With that in mind, we strongly urge you to direct CBP to correct these mistakes.”
Since that letter was sent, every Port Maritime Council has also sent letters to the Biden administration on this subject.