Maritime labor is applauding the selection of former U.S. Representative Betty Sutton (D-OH) as administrator of the Department of Transportation’s Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation (SLSDC).
The SLSDC is a wholly owned government corporation created in 1954 to construct, operate and maintain that part of the St. Lawrence Seaway between the Port of Montreal and Lake Erie, within the territorial limits of the United States. Trade development functions aim to enhance Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Seaway System utilization without respect to territorial or geographic limits.
Sutton is best known for her role in enacting the “Cash for Clunkers” Program, which earned her the “Legislator of the Year Award” from the Great Lakes Maritime Task Force (GLMTF), the nation’s largest grassroots organization dedicated to preserving and enhancing a viable Great Lakes maritime industry.”
As GLMTF President James Weakley said when announcing that award, “Rep. Sutton’s leading role in enacting the Consumer Assistance to Recycle and Save Act made her our overwhelming choice. That program resulted in the sale of more than 330,000 American-made cars, and light- and heavy-duty trucks. An estimated 60,000 jobs were created or saved by the program and the sales stimulated local economies nationwide.”
Weakley noted the strong connection between shipping on “America’s Fourth Coast” and the automotive industry. “On average, a car requires 1,600 pounds of steel, so the Cash for Clunkers Program means 265,000 tons of American-made steel is moving people about the country. Iron ore, the primary ingredient in steel, is the largest cargo on the Great Lakes. It takes about 1.5 tons of iron ore to make a ton of steel, so those vehicles consumed nearly 400,000 tons of Minnesota and Michigan iron ore that moved from mine to mill in U.S.-flag lakers.”
During her six years in Congress, Sutton was dedicated to preserving a strong maritime industry and labor movement. She played an active role in trying to get funding for the vitally important Water Resources Development Act. She was particularly concerned with job creation, especially since her congressional term coincided with worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.
“I want to thank President Obama for appointing me to this critical position at the Department of Transportation,” said Sutton. “I look forward to continuing my role in public service as the Administrator of the SLSDC. Coming from the Great Lakes region, I fully appreciate the importance of the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway System not only to international commerce and to our national transportation system, but to the economic vitality of the Great Lakes area.”