Once again, maritime unions and allies are pushing against yet another attack on the Jones Act.
This time, the fight is taking place in New Jersey, where its state senate passed a resolution last week calling for the United States to permanently exempt Puerto Rico from the nation’s freight cabotage law.
An October 19 letter to New Jersey House Speaker Craig Coughlin calls for that body to “reject any attempts to bring a similar resolution to the floor in the General Assembly.”
The letter is signed by presidents of the Maritime Trades Department and MTD affiliates Longshoremen, MEBA and Seafarers (including the American Maritime Officers) as well as the heads of the Transportation Trades Department, Masters, Mates & Pilots, and the Greater New York/New Jersey Port Council.
“The passage of (Senate Concurrent Resolution) 31 represents a direct attack on the Jones Act, and a direct attack on our members,” the letter reads.
“Further, despite the concerns outlined in the resolution, there has been no evidence that the Jones Act has had any negative impact on rebuilding efforts in Puerto Rico since Hurricane Maria. [Maria struck the island in 2017.] In fact, Jones Act ships were the first ships to begin arriving at the island with relief supplies and fuel after Hurricane Fiona, just a few weeks ago.”
The letter points out that the Jones Act, an American law since 1920, supports more than 650,000 jobs across the United States, “including New Jersey and Puerto Rico, representing $150 billion in annual economic impact.”
Additionally, the letter notes, “The domestic maritime industry contributes $3.8 billion annually to the New Jersey economy, including $1.19 billion in worker income, supporting 15,670 domestic maritime jobs.”
Since its founding in 1946, the MTD has stood by and fought for the Jones Act, which states cargo carried from one domestic port to another must be moved aboard a US-owned, US-crewed, US-build and US-flag vessel.
The actions by the New Jersey Senate directly contradicts efforts earlier this year when legislatures in Virginia and Tennessee expressed their support for the nation’s cabotage law.