After thanking President Biden for his longtime support of the U.S. merchant marine as a senator, vice president and candidate for the highest office, the heads of six U.S.-flag maritime unions offered ideas on how to strengthen the fleet in a letter to the White House last month.
Among those signing the letter to Biden were MTD President Michael Sacco, San Francisco Port Council (and Sailors’ Union of the Pacific) President Dave Connolly, and South Florida Port Council (and American Maritime Officers) President Paul Doell. Joining them were Masters, Mates and Pilots President Don Marcus; Marine Firemen, Oilers, Watertenders and Wipers President Anthony Poplawski; and Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association President Adam Vokac.
The maritime labor leaders stated that with the support of the President and Congress, “we now have the opportunity to develop an effective national maritime policy that increases the number of vessels operating under the U.S. flag, the amount of cargo carried aboard U.S.-flag ships, and the number of jobs for American merchant mariners.”
Among the issues mentioned were continued full funding for the Maritime Security Program (which has been operating since 1996), providing funds for a new 10-vessel Tanker Security Fleet, and raising the percentage of non-defense U.S. government generated cargo that would be carried aboard U.S.-flag ships.
The maritime leaders asked the administration to consider tax legislation “that will achieve greater participation by U.S.-flag vessels in the carriage of America’s foreign trade. Specifically, a program that offers tax incentives to those who transport their cargoes on U.S.-flag vessels could help narrow the gap between the cost of using U.S.-flag ships and the cost of using substandard foreign flag-of-convenience vessels with foreign citizen crews.”
In closing, the six signees noted, “Despite an unparalleled record of service to our country, the continued viability of our industry is at risk… We stand ready to work with you, Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, Acting Maritime Administrator Lucinda Lessley and others in your administration to develop policies and programs that increase jobs for American maritime workers.”