AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler commended the work of Seafarers and encouraged officials and rank-and-file members to support pro-labor candidates in the midterm elections.
Shuler submitted a video message for the SIUNA convention, which took place online Sept. 14. “I just have to start by recognizing your president, Mike Sacco, who is not only an incredible leader of your union, but a true leader within our federation,” said Shuler. “Serving on our executive council, and as president of the AFL-CIO’s Maritime Trades Department, and even conducting the elections for Fred (Redmond) and I at the AFL-CIO convention last June. Thank you, Mike, and to (SIU Executive Vice President) Augie Tellez, (SIU Secretary-Treasurer) Dave Heindel and all the executive board leaders and activists, we are so grateful for your dedication to our labor movement.”
She continued, “And that’s what the Seafarers do: You show up whenever you’re needed, and you deliver the goods. That’s especially true in times of crisis. It was Seafarers who delivered supplies to Allied troops in World War II, and helped evacuate people from Manhattan after 9/11. And there’s no question that you all have stepped up to address the challenges the pandemic has posed to our economy and our supply chain. That’s what unions do. We show up for each other, and we use our collective power to fight for a better future for our communities. And people are recognizing this. Not only is the public support for unions at 71 percent, but we’re seeing incredible momentum building around organizing.”
She spoke on some of the new technologies that will shape the future of the SIUNA: “New industries are emerging all around us. And we need to make sure that those jobs are good, union jobs from day one. And by being the source for the most highly skilled, highly trained, most productive workers on the planet, that’s how we get a foothold. And we are seeing that in industries like offshore wind….
“But now we want to expand that, and make sure every aspect of the industry is union, wall to wall,” Shuler continued. “And this, of course, includes all the work in the maritime trades. From construction, to the 20-plus years of maintenance work on barges and supply ships, wind turbine installation vessels, crewing transports, operations and maintenance vessels.… We are going to fight for all of that to be union work. And I am personally committed to this fight, because this is about the future.”
Lastly, Shuler described the importance of voting.
“We all know that the course of our future, it will depend on who’s writing the laws and making the rules,” she said. “And that’s why I know all of you will show up in these critical midterm elections. Our Labor 2022 plan is built on the organizing power of unions, and our ability to talk to one another about the issues that affect our daily lives. When we have those one on one, face to face conversations with our members about the issues, we can break through the polarization, and the echo chamber. We can be those trusted messengers on the job, on the phones, listening to our members about what’s important to them. And then connecting it to the pro-workers candidates who share our values, and who will show up for us. That’s how we’re going to win in this election.”