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Maritime Labor is resolute in its opposition to a proposed second registry that would allow the U.S. Virgin Islands to operate a flag-of-convenience scam.

The Maritime Trades Department, AFL-CIO stands in solidarity with the American Maritime Officers; the International Organization of Masters, Mates & Pilots; the Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association; the Marine Firemen’s Union; the Sailors’ Union of the Pacific; and the Seafarers International Union along with the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO in calling on the Biden Administration, the Congress, the Defense Department and the Maritime Administration to reject an open registry for the U.S. Virgin Islands as presented during a press conference in Washington, DC, on February 1.

“On behalf of the licensed and unlicensed American merchant mariners who have proudly and without fail served our country since its founding, we oppose in the strongest possible terms the creation of an open registry in the Virgin Islands, a territory of the United States,” opens the joint statement from the unions.

Labor reminds the government officials that effort to create a runaway flag is yet another attempt by foreign interests to undermine the U.S.-flag maritime industry and the men and women who crew those vessels.

“Open registries exist so that shipowners can increase their profits by avoiding the same rules, regulations, tax obligations and manning requirements that attach to a national flag fleet. This latest effort is nothing more than an exercise in labor arbitrage designed to generate registry fees and to enrich foreign shipowners at the expense of American workers and America’s national interests,” the statement continues.

The unions point out, “The military security of the United States will not be strengthened by relying on foreign owned and foreign crewed vessels.”

“At its core, this proposal, allowing for the operation of vessels with foreign mariners under a United States open registry, is an affront to the American mariners who have always put themselves in harm’s way whenever called upon by our nation,” the unions declare.

The MTD, along with the others who signed the statement, has fought for decades against the exploitation of all mariners abused by the global runaway-flag system, no matter what flag a vessel may fly.

The full text of the joint statement: USVI Statement on Letterhead.