President Biden, meeting with the AFL-CIO leadership and principal officers of international unions on March 5, said once again he will not waiver in his longtime support for the Jones Act, the nation’s freight cabotage law.
The president was responding to a statement from SIU Executive Vice President Augie Tellez during the gathering in Wilmington, Delaware.
Tellez, who attended with MEBA Secretary-Treasurer Roland Rexha and MM&P President Don Marcus, thanked the president for standing with American mariners throughout his career as a senator and vice president. He alerted Biden to new attacks being directed at the Jones Act in the wake of rising petroleum prices because of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The maritime contingent noted recent news columns preposterously trying to claim the Jones Act as anti-American.
Tellez also informed the president about the February announcement proposing an open registry in the U.S. Virgin Islands that would take away cargo from U.S.-flag ships and jobs from American mariners.
Biden told Tellez, Rexha, Marcus and the other labor leaders he will continue to fight for American mariners and workers.
Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh also met with the union officials, numbering 39 in all and including AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler.
Biden thanked the labor officials for their support and outlined steps the administration has taken to help union members in the first year of the administration. Walsh spoke of the need to work collaboratively to empower American workers and underscored the president’s support for strong unions as key to the middle class.
The group further discussed the unprecedented economic growth experienced in the U.S. and the addition of 678,000 jobs in February, along with a 3.8% drop in the unemployment rate. A total of 7.4 million jobs have been added since the start of the administration. Additionally, attendees touched on the administration’s wide range of accomplishments thus far when it comes to creating union jobs and protecting Davis-Bacon provisions, including the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the American Rescue Plan. The group echoed its thanks to the president, the secretary and administration officials for the historic investment the administration has made in American workers.