The heads of nine maritime-oriented labor organizations fired a letter
to the chairs and ranking members of the House Transportation and
Infrastructure and the House Armed Services committees to preserve the
nation’s freight cabotage law (the Jones Act) as they craft
legislation to help American workers and businesses caught in the
economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
The letter arrived on Capitol Hill on March 19 as foreign-flag
interests were scheming new ways to cripple the 100-year-old law that
states cargo moved from one domestic port to another must be carried
aboard U.S.-crewed, U.S.-built, U.S.-owned and U.S.-flagged vessels.
As hotel, casino, restaurant, retail, transportation and manufacturing
workers were being laid off, some were calling for financial
assistance to the foreign-flag cruise ship industry, which pays little
to no federal taxes.
The letter reads:
“As you may be aware, a number of groups and individuals are
attempting to use the current coronavirus pandemic as a rationale to
waive one or more of our nation’s maritime cabotage laws. We strongly
oppose such efforts and ask your help to ensure that such harmful,
unwarranted and unjustifiable waivers of the cabotage laws are not
included in the various stimulus packages designed to help the
American worker and American industries.
“At a time when American workers and their families are facing
economic hardship, the public health crisis should not be exploited to
the benefit of foreign-flagged industries that do not employ American
workers, avoid paying U.S. taxes, pay substandard wages to their
foreign employees and want to use these hard times to break into our
nation’s vital industries. We oppose any efforts to waive the Jones
Act that would undermine the wellbeing of American mariners and the
domestic maritime workforce. When this crisis is over, irresponsibly
weakening the fundamental laws governing the U.S. maritime industry
would only contribute to the growing loss of American jobs to foreign
“We thank you for your consistent support for the American maritime
worker and appreciate your efforts to protect American maritime jobs.”
It was signed by Marshall Ainley, MEBA President; Dave Connolly, SUP
President; Paul Doell, AMO President; Daniel Duncan, MTD Executive
Secretary-Treasurer; Don Marcus, MM&P President; Anthony Poplawski,
MFOW President; Michael Sacco, SIU President; Marina Secchitano, IBU
of the Pacific President; and Larry Willis, TTD President.