The recent win by workers who formed a union at an Amazon distribution center in New York is excellent news in its own right, but it also signals even greater potential for employees across the country.
For anyone who missed it, this was no April Fools’ Day joke: On April 1, more than 2,500 individuals voted to join the Amazon Labor Union. They won the election by more than 500 votes, overcoming a massive anti-union campaign and securing the first such victory in the company’s history. One prominent publication called it “one of the biggest wins for organized labor in a generation.”
Whether an election happens at a large facility like the Amazon warehouse or at comparatively smaller ones like the various Starbucks locations that have recently unionized, it’s always heartening to see workers pulling together and choosing union representation. It also demonstrates that even though our nation’s labor laws remain severely outdated, workers can in fact beat the odds and win.
Labor unions have always served as the strongest employee advocate in any workplace. From factory floors to the federal government to the deckplates, union members have always counted on their organization to fight for their rights, wages, safety and health care. Through continual work and perseverance, unions will remain a cornerstone of the American workforce.
It would be even better news if wins like the one at Amazon were the rule rather than the exception. And I believe that’ll be the case if the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act becomes law. This legislation, long overdue, would restore fairness to a process that gradually has become severely slanted in management’s favor.
When workers want to form or join a union, they should be free to do so, without employer interference. The PRO Act would give them that chance. Meanwhile, kudos to the grassroots movement in New York that culminated in a spirit-lifting victory for workers.
Industry Remains Vital
Comments from the commanding officer of the U.S. Transportation Command during a recent congressional hearing clearly spelled out how our nation depends on a strong U.S. Merchant Marine. Gen. Jacqueline Van Ovost reiterated her support of our industry – including our crews – saying the time is now for American-flag fleet revitalization.
On the latter point, the Ready Reserve Force began taking steps in the right direction with the acquisitions of two newer ships. This is a good start, and I’m hopeful it’s just that: a start. The RRF is a critical component of our nation’s sealift. It should consist of modern vessels.
Be sure to read our coverage of the hearing, which also included excellent remarks by Acting Maritime Administrator Lucinda Lessley and by representatives from both sides of the aisle.
Upgrading in Piney Point
I’ve recently had opportunities to spend a fair amount of time at the SIU-affiliated school in Piney Point, Maryland. It’s good to see our operations safely moving back towards something that resembles pre-pandemic times, even if we’re not totally there yet.
As the school ramps up its course frequency, I encourage Seafarers to take advantage of everything it offers. The Paul Hall Center is the key to moving up, boosting your earning power, and staying on top of the requirements for your particular job.
Check out the upgrading course schedule in the LOG or on the SIU website. If you need help getting started, contact the school, your port agent or the union’s membership assistance office. Plenty of people are ready and willing to help.
I remain proud of the school, which has come a long, long way in its nearly 55 years of operation. It’s a first-class facility with modern equipment and a great staff, and it happens to be located on a very scenic spot. Utilize it for a brighter future.