As America’s maritime unions stand united to protect our members
aboard ships, on the docks and in the yards while keeping commerce
moving during this coronavirus pandemic, Jones Act opponents thought
they could sneak yet another attempt to disrupt the 100-year-old law
The American Maritime Partnership (AMP), to which several MTD
affiliates belong, exposed a letter sent to Capitol Hill leaders from
the American Exploration and Production Council seeking legislative
action to waive the Jones Act to move petroleum products between U.S.
ports. The council claimed in a story printed March 20 in the Maritime
Executive that the waiver would help the current economic situation
within the oil industry.
Writing for the hundreds of AMP associates — who come from domestic
maritime unions, shipping companies, shipyards and suppliers —
Chairman Michael Roberts stated, “This is an opportunistic effort by
those who want to use foreign ships to advance their own economic
interests at the expense of American workers who are doing everything
in their power to keep the economy moving.”
Roberts noted that U.S.-flag carriers have enough available capacity
to move cargo within the country, so no waiver is needed.
“At a time of American crisis and uncertainty, a waiver to the Jones
Act would only open our borders and markets to foreign shipping
companies with foreign crews that pose an added threat to the safety
and security of our nation’s health,” Roberts added. “A waiver would
allow foreign vessels and foreign crews to enter purely domestic
commerce, a bad idea in any circumstance but certainly more so during
the current coronavirus crisis.”
The Jones Act is the nation’s freight cabotage law. It states cargo
moved from one domestic port to another must be carried aboard a
U.S.-crewed, U.S.-built, U.S.-flagged and U.S.-owned vessels. More
than 90 nations have some sort of cabotage law to deal with cargo
movements within their borders and territorial waters.
The MTD continues to fight to protect the Jones Act.