Reaching a five-year deal with Matson Navigation Company, the SUP Negotiating Committee improved member wages, benefits and job security. Meanwhile, TRANSCOM endorsed the Tanker Security Program, which could be the next new element of American cabotage. This issue reports on the Delta variant, cruise legal battles, a new Amazon organizing effort, future seagoing internet, and robot ships. The famous SUP Honor Roll, a broad overview of the value of the U.S. merchant marine, plus a pension benefits breakdown and wage updates also get coverage.
Matson announced a new transpacific China liner service using U.S.-flag ships with SUP on board. It's the third China run for the Company, this time calling Oakland first. Meanwhile, President Biden called for MSP full funding, and created a Jones Act enforcement office. The next longshore battle lines were drawn with plans of automation in Long Beach, and labor mourned the murder of transportation workers at a Union meeting in San Jose. News broke on cyber-attacks, wind farms, and the Jonah story of a fisherman.
A ransomware cyber-attack on a critical Houston to New York pipeline loosed havoc on East Coast fuel supplies, creating shortages and panic buying. The Biden Administration enacted a partial, targeted Jones Act waiver to address the emergency, while the industry kept watch on the underlying need and called for a full review by Congress. The Center for Disease Control issued surprising new virus guidelines on masking and other protocols, causing some confusion, generating questions, and initiating another round of state-by-state interpretations.
The Biden Administration embarked on a legislative voyage of historic proportions in the American Jobs Plan. Although it contains the roads, bridges and other traditional infrastructure components, this Plan has echoes of FDR's New Deal in its broad and potentially transformative scope. Maritime is part of it, both in terms of $17 billion of funding for ports and other marine projects, but also in the "Ship American" ideas of the Jones Act, cargo preference, and thus U.S.-flag crews on U.S.-flag ships.
In a long-awaited decision the Military Sealift Command awarded the maintenance and operation of eight Watson-class ships to Patriot with SUP sailors on deck. It is a remarkable milestone, an achievement of skill and dedication. The news came as the SUP celebrated 135th anniversary of its founding on a lumber pile on the Embarcadero in San Francisco, as well as Women's History Month.
President Joe Biden in the first week of taking office declared and enacted strong support for the Jones Act. The "Buy America" Executive Order was the first of its kind to not only specifically mention the Jones Act, but to establish an office to ensure federal government compliance with the 100 year old law. Despite this Rep. Ed Case (D-HI) launched a fresh attack and the cruise industry took aim on a related cabotage law, the Passenger Vessel Services Act. This issue has important updates on COVID-19, the vaccine situation and celebrates Black History Month.