Answering the Call
Congratulations to SIU members and to all of our union’s port personnel for the incredible job you did last month in filling a large number of jobs in less than 24 hours, in response to a handful of no-notice vessel activations. Our industry, like so many others, is currently weathering a manpower strain, so this wasn’t exactly an ideal time to handle those activations – but you all rose to the occasion, like always.
On one hand, sure, this was just a case of doing our jobs. But realistically, it wasn’t easy, it was important and time-sensitive, and our team answered the call.
I extend my thanks and admiration to everyone who helped get it done.
New Leadership at MARAD
Speaking of congratulations, I’m glad to note the recent confirmation of Rear Adm. Ann Phillips (USN, Ret.) to the post of maritime administrator. She definitely has big shoes to fill – our longtime friend, Rear Adm. Mark Buzby, did an excellent job at MARAD (and previously at the Military Sealift Command) – but I know she’s up to the task.
We’re already working with the new administrator and will continue doing everything possible to help the agency fulfill its critical mission of strengthening and maintaining the U.S. Merchant Marine. MARAD obviously is a crucial agency for Seafarers; their work to promote American- flag shipping and U.S. crews is part of our lifeblood.
My thanks also go to Lucinda Lessley for her outstanding work as acting administrator prior to Adm. Phillips’ confirmation. Her integrity and thoughtfulness shined through at all times.
Register and Vote
While some Seafarers already have voted in this year’s primaries, it’s not too soon for others to double-check their voter registration status ahead of Election Day 2022 (Tuesday, November 8). Make sure you and your eligible family members are registered, and please support promaritime, pro-worker candidates.
Without question, there has been an awakening across the U.S. regarding workers’ rights. In part, that’s why the labor movement finds itself at a crossroads with the elections on the horizon. The combination of a labor-friendly administration and a rising interest in collective action has generated considerable momentum, but at the same time, the opponents of labor are as well-funded and determined to dismantle worker power as they have ever been. To make matters even more complicated, partisan gridlock has stalled progress on more than one item on the labor movement’s agenda.
It’s no secret that union membership across the country has declined over the years, but union households still play a major role in determining outcomes of many elections. This depends, though, on everyone from the movement exercising their constitutional right to vote. That the enemies of the working class have attempted so many times to interfere with that right only reveals how terrified they are of a unified labor movement making its voice heard.
This encouragement goes beyond presidential and congressional elections. Union families must vote the whole ballot from state legislatures to city hall to local school boards. Those who seek to swipe power away from America’s working class operate best under the cover of darkness, funneling money into races and legislative manipulations that mostly escape the notice of national and even your local media.
That’s why labor cannot leave any political stone unturned. Leadership must do its part to educate members on the issues, but ultimately the responsibility rests with each union member to cast her or his ballot strategically. Without concentrated political power at every level of government, the labor movement cannot achieve its goals. And make no mistake, those goals benefit not just America’s working families, but all of America.