The Maritime Port Council of Greater New York/New Jersey and Vicinity honored three important members of the maritime community at its annual dinner/dance on June 24 in Manhattan.
Seafarers Union of Canada President (and MTD Eastern Area Executive Board Member) Jim Given received the Paul Hall Award of Merit. Eric Ebeling, president and CEO of American Roll-on Roll-off Carrier (ARC) was recognized with the Herb Brand Memorial Award. The Government Man of the Year Award was presented to U.S. Representative Duncan Hunter (R-CA).
Given noted that no one individual gets an award, as it is a team effort. He saluted the brothers and sisters of the SIU of Canada for all of their hard work. “We are stronger, larger and better than we ever were,” Given said of his union.
“This is a great honor and I don’t take it lightly. There is no higher honor than to receive the Paul Hall Award,” Given told the more than 400 in attendance, including the presidents of six different port councils from the U.S. and Canada.
In introducing the Paul Hall awardee, MTD President Michael Sacco told the audience that Given grew up in an SIU family and started sailing in 1973. He added Given “isn’t afraid to roll up his sleeves and do the hard work that’s required to be an effective president.”
Since becoming the head of the SIU of Canada in September 2013, Given led a nationwide coalition of unions against the Canadian-European Union Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement and faced down a threat by the Canada Steamship Lines to go foreign flag, while securing new jobs for his members.
“Since taking the helm, Jim has done an outstanding job while gaining respect from his members, other workers and elected officials,” Sacco stated. “He’s put renewed emphasis on vocational training, and he and his team have successfully improved their union contracts.”
In accepting the Herb Brand Award, Ebeling joins his father (Raymond Ebeling in 2000) in being so recognized.
After thanking his wife and family (and surprising his mother by leading the audience in “Happy Birthday”), he sent a “special thanks to my colleagues. This is a team award for your dedication and action.”
Ebeling talked about a recent ship’s christening at which U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao spoke that showed “ARC is in for the long haul.”
He emphasized several times that the U.S.-flag maritime industry “must build for the future” and protect and grow the Maritime Security Program, cargo preference and other initiatives.
Seafarers Union Executive Vice President (and MTD Executive Board Member) Augie Tellez presented Ebeling as someone who has built “on his father’s foundation. He works with the government, the military, the U.S. Transportation Command and the industry to make sure demands are met.”
Tellez pointed out that both he and Ebeling are “legacies” in the U.S.-flag maritime industry as their fathers preceded them in their lines of work.
Since Congressman Hunter was called away and unable to receive his award, Seafarers Legislative and Political Representative Terry Turner read the elected official’s letter thanking the port council for the recognition.
Hunter wrote that as a Marine and a member of Congress he has appreciated the hard work performed by the men and women of the U.S.-flag fleet: “Our citizens team up to deliver the goods, wherever and whenever needed.”
He added, “Partly through my interactions with your parent organization, the Maritime Trades Department, I have come to view your industry as a great example of labor-management cooperation.
“I will continue to be an outspoken advocate for U.S.-flag ships that are built, crewed and owned by Americans. I will stand up for the Jones Act, the Maritime Security Program, cargo preference laws and any other programs that benefit the American maritime industry,” Hunter concluded