Military, Government, Business Leaders Also
Cite Ongoing Need for Strong U.S.-Flag Fleet
The need for good jobs in the United States – and the maritime industry’s great potential to be part of the solution – were prime topics during the annual winter meeting of the Maritime Trades Department, AFL-CIO executive board March 8-9 in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
As usual, the meeting featured an array of high-level speakers from the military, government, business and labor. They talked about the ongoing need for a strong U.S. Merchant Marine; projects that may be sources of union jobs; the importance of this year’s elections; global efforts to combat piracy, and much more.
SIU President Michael Sacco, who also serves as MTD president, chaired the meeting. The MTD consists of 23 affiliated unions representing approximately 5 million members. The MTD also includes 21 port maritime councils.
In his opening remarks, Sacco said that family-wage jobs “are on everybody’s mind all across the country, not just in the labor movement. Jobs and the economy are really one subject, and that’s going to be front and center not only for the presidential election but for other federal and state campaigns.”
He said that in order to recover some of the jobs the nation has lost as well as protecting the good American jobs that are still here, President Obama “is on the right track when he talks about rewarding companies who keep their production here at home, and not rewarding the ones who move it overseas. That’s a pretty simple concept, but it won’t be possible to execute unless we have pro-worker majorities in Congress and a pro-worker administration.”
Sacco then emphasized the need for membership education, supporting pro-worker candidates, getting out the vote, and then “following up with the winners and making them live up to their promises.”
He discussed federal and state-level attacks on collective bargaining rights, and pointed to recent wins by working families in Ohio and Wisconsin as proof that the labor movement still knows how to fight.
He added, “I think it’s ironic that as we’re fighting to protect workers’ rights, a lot of the media coverage has pointed to unions as a key to economic revitalization. Don’t get me wrong – our state-level battles aren’t exactly the preferred method for spreading the word about the union advantage.
“But one of the silver linings has been coverage that points out the facts that union members are more productive, earn more money and have better benefits than unrepresented workers. Other reporting – and this is coming from economists and journalists, not from labor organizations – has flat-out stated that one reason the economy is in the tank is because fewer people belong to unions now than they did any number of years ago. We can use that as a recruiting tool. We have a lot to offer.”
In order of appearance, the following guest speakers addressed the board on March 8: Capt. Andrew McGovern, president, United New Jersey Sandy Hook Pilots Association; Barry Holiday, executive director, Dredging Contractors of America; Rear Adm. Mark Buzby, commander, U.S. Military Sealift Command; Rear Adm. Wendi Carpenter, president, State University of New York Maritime College; Rear Adm. Michael Devany, director of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration’s Marine and Aviation Operations Centers; Joseph Angelo, managing director, Interanko; and Paul Anderson, CEO, Jacksonville Port Authority.
Speaking to the board the next day were AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka; Michael Stotz, president, AFL-CIO Investment Trust Corporation; U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis (via a video); Robert Mitchell, CEO, Atlantic Wind Connection; Jon Whitlow, secretary, International Transport Workers’ Federation Seafarers’ Section; U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.); and U.S. Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.).
Throughout both days, the board approved policy statements that define many of the MTD’s goals and strategies and voice unwavering support for our troops and first responders. Full copies of those statements are posted on maritimetrades.org.