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When asked what their most important concern is, a large majority of the American people respond with one word: Jobs.

Without jobs, America cannot remain strong. Without jobs, America won’t be able to fulfill its overseas obligations.  Without jobs, the quality of life for millions of Americans will continue to stagnate, as it has for the past three decades. Simply put, without jobs, there is no American Dream.

The Maritime Trades Department, AFL-CIO, its affiliates and its Port Maritime Councils fully support the federation’s efforts to promote job creation. We support increased spending on infrastructure, both as a short- and long-term strategy. Like the rest of organized labor, we recognize that “Green Jobs” represent the future. And, as we have long contended, U.S. jobs will continue to be shipped overseas as long as there is no such thing as Fair Trade when foreign trade deals are negotiated.

There have been some glimmers of hope. Buoyed by the President’s far-sighted rescue of the auto industry, the American manufacturing sector is staging a rebound. But it’s only a beginning. Much more needs to be done.

Last month, Congress passed an extension of the payroll tax cuts and unemployment insurance benefits. But, Congress needs to pass the President’s job creation plan, which would set aside extra monies for infrastructure projects.  At a time when unemployment remains at unacceptably high levels, the U.S. government should follow the adage: “First Do No Harm.”

More tax breaks for the wealthy will not cut it. Neither will gutting existing worker protections. The Jones Act and Davis-Bacon remain as important as ever. And we need meaningful labor law reform. Job training should remain a priority, as should trade adjustment laws. All these common-sense programs have been targeted by special interest groups.

As for infrastructure, it is imperative that the administration and Congress not lose sight of the fact that maritime must be given its due. Our ports generate millions of jobs; dredging and port modernization are essential.

The Jones Act fleet provides meaningful employment for hundreds of thousands of workers, as does the U.S.-flag shipbuilding industry. U.S. cabotage laws should not be curtailed or repealed.

For these and many more reasons, the MTD, its affiliates and its Port Maritime Councils will continue to focus on the four-letter word most important to us, our members and all working people: Jobs!