President's Column

 

November 2017

 

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SIU President Michael Sacco sets the record straight on the Jones Act and its numerous benefits

 

As if the recent, devastating series of hurricanes wasn’t bad enough, enemies of the U.S. Merchant Marine tried to pile on by erroneously blaming the Jones Act for somehow slowing recovery efforts in Puerto Rico.

 

For those of us who’ve spent a long time in the maritime industry, there’s nothing new about swatting down lies about America’s freight cabotage law. But I must say, the media really dropped the ball this time, by parroting outright falsehoods concerning the Jones Act. In late September, it felt as if American-flag shipping was being blamed for everything from locusts to the plague.

 

Fortunately, and like always, our industry and our supporters pushed back and set the record straight, not only in the press but also in Congress. We go into detail elsewhere in this edition of the LOG and on our website, but the bottom line is the Jones Act is good for our country – most definitely including Puerto Rico. It never hampered relief efforts, and in fact, Jones Act ships (most if not all of them proudly crewed by Seafarers) led those efforts from the very beginning, not only in Puerto Rico but also in the U.S. Virgin Islands, where thousands of members of the SIU-affiliated United Industrial Workers reside.

 

Nevertheless, a threat remained in Congress at press time, in the form of legislation that would weaken this time-tested law. We were engaged in a grassroots campaign to stop that proposal, because the Jones Act remains vital for America’s national, economic and homeland security. It’s also a key source of jobs for our members, and I thank every Seafarer who reached out to their representatives in the House and Senate to urge their support.

 

It’s frustrating when people lie about our industry, whether in the press or on social media or on Capitol Hill – or anywhere, for that matter. We always have to rise above it and stand up for ourselves, and that’s not hard when the truth is on our side.

 

Anniversary Notes

It was surreal at times as we conducted recent conventions and an anniversary event at our affiliated school in Piney Point, Maryland. Those gatherings are normally very uplifting, but in addition to conducting the business of the conventions, we were working every day to continue with hurricane relief efforts (and stand up for the Jones Act). Our bodies were in Piney Point, but I know our hearts were in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands – and yes, in Houston and Florida. We haven’t forgotten about you.

 

Nevertheless, I do want to offer a tip of the hat to everyone at the Paul Hall Center who helped ensure the success of the UIW and SIUNA conventions. And I especially enjoyed the school’s 50th anniversary luncheon, where we debuted a video and appreciated heartfelt, in-person speeches. Piney Point has been a second home of sorts for me, but, far more importantly, it remains a gateway to maritime careers for our members, whether they’re just getting started or they’re upgrading their skills. As I said in the video (you can find it on our Facebook page), it’s one of the keys to our future.

 

Holiday Wishes

As we head toward the winter holidays, I normally use this space to offer a heartfelt but routine greeting for a safe and happy experience. But, the times are anything but routine. Between the hurricanes and the horrific, tragic mass murder in Las Vegas, I think we’re all wondering how these things could happen and what’s next.

 

The calendar keeps advancing, though. With Thanksgiving on the horizon, my hopes for all are for healing, recovery, and peaceful times with family. Give your loved ones an extra hug, and may we all count our blessings and lift up those in need.

 

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