MTD Convention Coverage
Meeting on September 5-6 in Los Angeles, the delegates to the Maritime Trades Department Quadrennial Convention adopted 18 resolutions dealing with maritime and labor issues designed to set the department’s course for the next four years.
Ranging from calls for more domestic shipbuilding and support for the Jones Act and Food for Peace to solidarity with MTD-affiliated Mine Workers and the need for job creation, the MTD dealt with recent developments and how they will affect the future. The delegates also took time to remember those who passed away since the last convention.
The following is a list of the resolutions that were passed.
CONGRESSIONAL MARITIME CAUCUS
“Since its formation … the Congressional Maritime Caucus has played a pivotal role in fighting back attacks on the maritime industry. More than anything else, the Caucus has been a moving force in educating members of Congress—many of them who have been on Capitol Hill for only a few years—about maritime’s many contributions …”
FAIRNESS AT PATRIOT
“(The) Maritime Trades Department, AFL-CIO, its affiliates and its Port Maritime Councils continue to stand in solidarity with the United Mine Workers of America in support of the brothers and sisters affected by Patriot Coal’s bankruptcy …”
“The skill, courage and dedication of first responders have attracted nearly universal praise.
“But to anyone familiar with political and legislative developments over the past four years, many of the seemingly heartfelt words of appreciation ring hollow. We have witnessed a relentless attack on collective bargaining rights at the state and local levels, including those benefiting first responders …”
FOOD FOR PEACE
“The MTD makes no apologies whatsoever for protecting the good American jobs tied to PL- 480, including many that are held by members of our affiliated unions. An estimated 44,000 American mariners, port workers, farmers, transportation workers and processors have jobs that depend on the program.
“Food for Peace is a proven, time-tested winner that helps people around the world, puts America in a good light and literally saves lives …”
“For those of us in the labor movement, grassroots political activity is like oxygen; if it went away, we’d go away …”
IMPROVING MARITIME LABOR CONDITIONS
“For years, the MTD, its affiliates and Port Maritime Councils have championed a proposed ILO Convention that many are calling ‘a bill of rights for seafarers.’
“The (Maritime Labor Convention) went into effect on August 20, 2013.
“However, still outstanding is ratification of the Seafarers’ Identity Convention (Revised) (No. 185) which calls upon nations to use state-of-the art technology to verify the identity of mariners documented by their countries …”
“It is important that we take time to remember and honor those who have helped make the Department what it is today …”
“The vast majority of the American people see it the same way we do: Jobs and the economy are jointly the number one issue across the nation.
“We can win this fight. We can turn things around.
“A great first step will be to stop rewarding companies that send jobs overseas …“
THE JONES ACT
“The Jones Act is the lifeblood of the maritime industry and a vital tool in protecting the nation’s economic and national security.
“The Jones Act, which mandates that cargo moving between U.S. ports must be carried on vessels that are flagged, built, crewed and owned American, sustains more than 500,000 American jobs and generates more than $100 billion in annual economic output.
“The MTD, its affiliates and Port Maritime Councils will continue to support the Jones Act in every arena and oppose all efforts to repeal or dismantle the law in any way.”
LABOR UNDER ATTACK
“On a whole array of issues at the federal, state and local levels, special interest groups and individuals hostile to any kind of viable labor movement are waging an all-out wage.
“The Maritime Trades Department, AFL-CIO, its affiliates and its Port Maritime Councils continue their fight at all levels to oppose efforts to roll back important worker protections such as overtime, the 40-hour workweek, the right to belong to a union and project labor agreements …”
MARITIME SECURITY PROGRAM
“Thanks to the Defense Department’s Maritime Security Program (MSP), the United States military is able to have a sealift capability worth billions of dollars for a small fraction of the price …
“This (program) does much to improve the nation’s sealift capability while generating U.S. jobs and revenues. It is the definition of win-win …”
“A major issue confronting the maritime industry in recent years has been seaborne piracy and armed robbery against merchant ships …
“The Maritime Trades Department AFL-CIO, its affiliates and Port Maritime Councils continue calling attention to an especially noteworthy and completely unacceptable aspect of piracy. Namely, most if not all the so-called flags-of-convenience or runaway-flags have either made woefully inadequate attempts to combat piracy, or they have made none at all …”
“Billions of dollars in economic opportunities could simply drift away if a long-term, comprehensive plan is not put in place to modernize the nation’s aging and congested ports. With nearly 60 percent of American-made products being exported through these ports, the need could not be greater …
“The MTD, its affiliates and Port Maritime Councils will continue working with our allies to call upon the federal government to use its $7 billion Harbor Maintenance Fund surplus for the purpose of port modernization and dredging projects.”
“Social Security is essential for millions of retirees. Nearly two-thirds of retirees count on Social Security for at least half of their retirement income.
“For decades, workers achieved retirement security because their retirement income flowed from a combination of employer-provided pensions, Social Security and personal savings. But the recession has exposed the severe deficiencies in our retirement system.
“The MTD has repeatedly stated our opposition to any reduction of benefits, such as an increase in the retirement age or a decrease in cost-of-living adjustments, regardless of who proposed them …”
“In many parts of the world, today’s civilian mariners are among the most exploited workers due in large part because many of them work aboard vessels that fly the
flag of a country other than the nation of ownership.
“These floating sweatshops are the building blocks of the notorious ‘flag-of-convenience’ (FOC) or runaway flag-system. It exists for one reason and one reason only: to allow companies to avoid responsibilities, whether that means paying taxes or adhering to minimum health, safety and environmental standards.
“The MTD, its affiliates and its Port Maritime Councils remain steadfast in the ongoing fight for fair labor standards and safe working conditions for all mariners …
SUPPORT FOR TITLE XI
“While the U.S. shipbuilding industry provides an essential service to the nation, it currently is being underutilized.
“The (U.S.-flag) fleet needs to be rebuilt and revitalized. The nation needs to maintain its defense shipbuilding base and an active U.S.-flag merchant marine …
SUPORT FOR TROOPS & VETERANS
“While many Americans have lost faith in many of the nation’s institutions, confidence in and support for the men and women who serve in the U.S. military remains sky high.
“The MTD is proud of these brave men and women, many of whom are our own Union Brothers and Sisters. A number of MTD affiliates actively support the nation’s troops every day on the job, both at home and around the globe …”
TTIP TRADE TALKS
“Negotiators with the United States and European Union will touch on a variety of topics during the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) talks that are scheduled to resume in Brussels. There is one issue, however, that should remain off the table. That issue is maritime …”