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The  executive board of the Maritime Trades Department, AFL-CIO recently approved  the following statement.

THE JONES ACT

For  those of us in the Maritime Trades Department, AFL-CIO, saying that the Jones  Act is beneficial to America may generate a response like the currently popular  reply to someone who’s stating the obvious: “In other news, water is wet.”

Nevertheless,  while the MTD and its affiliates are well-versed in the very significant  plusses associated with America’s freight cabotage law, not everyone outside  the industry is similarly enlightened. With that in mind, it’s always welcome  news when an organization like the highly regarded Lexington Institute speaks  out on behalf of a law that accounts for hundreds of thousands of American jobs  and that helps pump billions of dollars into the economy.

The  Lexington Institute is non-partisan, non-profit think tank based in the  Washington suburbs. Among other issues, the organization focuses on national  security.

Late  last year, the Institute released a study firmly supporting the fact that the  Jones Act has a significantly positive effect on U.S. national and economic  security. The Jones Act, of course, mandates that cargo moving from one U.S.  port to another be carried aboard vessels that are crewed, flagged, owned and  built American.

The  report points out that nearly all of the nation’s major cities are connected to  waterways. The fact that many of the nation’s economic bases are linked by  water exemplifies how unique and important the sea is to the development and  sustainment of the country.

Additionally,  the report demonstrates that the U.S.-flag maritime industry has played a big  role in projecting American influence, trade, and armed forces around the  world. Having strong prepositioning forces, for instance, enables the U.S. to  address threats to national security, help other nations and American citizens  when it comes to natural disasters, and secure and facilitate trade routes, the  study finds. All of these goals and operations are supported by an  American-flag civilian fleet including work done by members of MTD unions. And  while prepositioning ships don’t sail in the Jones Act trades, they often rely  on well-trained, loyal, U.S.-citizen mariners who at other times do sail on  Jones Act vessels.

In  short, according to this and other reports, having a strong civilian-crewed  U.S.-flag fleet is vital to ensuring national and economic security. The Jones  Act helps maintain such a fleet along with a viable pool of mariners. The  alternative would be a dangerous option, especially in a time of crisis, the  study shows.

“Although  the Jones Act was not written with today’s threats to homeland security in  mind, its provisions provide an important base on which to build the systems,  processes and procedures needed to secure America,” the report states. It goes  on to say, “The provisions in the Jones Act regarding vessel ownership and  manning simplify efforts to ensure that rogue regimes and international  terrorists cannot strike at this country via its ports and waterways. One could  readily assert that were there no Jones Act, Congress would have to invent  one.”

We  wholeheartedly agree, even while also recognizing that the Jones Act regularly  comes under attack by foreign-flag and anti-worker interests whose agendas  arguably range from the dubious to the outright vicious.

The  MTD therefore once again vows to continue its work with its affiliates, Port  Maritime Councils and grassroots organizations like the American Maritime  Partnership to promote and protect the Jones Act in every possible way,  including by educating elected officials as well as the American public about  the critical magnitude and irreplaceable value of the Jones Act.