SUP sailors in coastwise meetings voted for a strike resolution as negotiations continued with American President Lines. Warning that worsening conditions and declining pay was unacceptable, especially as the profits of shipping companies soared while essential workers struggled. The resolution does not mean sailors are walking off their ships, or necessarily going on strike, but it is a strong endorsement to streamline the procedure in favor of fast action. Meanwhile, the supply-chain rail unions seek deal ratification, China resumed lockdowns and Hurricane Fiona flooded Puerto Rico.
West Coast Sailors
The world's biggest container lines are in general on course to post remarkable profits in 2022, amid ongoing pandemic buying and a logistical squeeze. Recruitment difficulties in the U.S. military are highlighted in this issue as a window on the competitive labor market and the AFL-CIO calls out corporate execs on the negative effects of excessive pay. President Biden seals a string of victories with the Inflation Reduction Act and the Coast Guard honors the life-saving efforts of the SUP crew in CMA-CGM Herodote.
At its Convention, America's unions made the Jones Act a keystone feature of its support for maritime working families. Meanwhile, the SUP remembered Bloody Thursday, and throughout the supply chain tense negotiations continued. Ukraine is the latest excuse for attacks on cargo preference and a foreign gas trader's Jones Act waiver request. Matson commits to LNG fuel on an indefinite schedule and a Spanish galleon is "discovered" off the coast of Oregon while SUP crews do the impossible on a daily basis.
Delegates to the AFL-CIO Convention this month elected the Federation's first woman president, and Fred Remond became the first African-American Secretary-Treasurer. The unsung heroes of World War II, the U.S. merchant mariners who delivered the war-fighting gear necessary to defeat fascism, got more official recognition via a Congressional Gold Medal. The ILWU contract with West Coast terminal operators was set to expire without a new contract but neither side expected any immediate action. Meanwhile, Jones Act battles flared as labor took up new defense of the nation's cabotage laws.
The SUP honors on Memorial Day the merchant mariners who made the ultimate sacrifice in the nation's wars, celebrates them again on Maritime Day, and calls attention to their hazardous workplace on Workers Memorial Day. Coastwise negotiations for a new longshore agreement began in San Francisco between the ILWU and the PMA, two senators raided the rules that reserve a portion of the U.S. Food for Peace program for American ships and mariners.
Shanghai and other Chinese ports locked down on an Omicron surge that caused new delays, diversions and disruption to shipping across the trans-Pacific trade. This issue also reports on the outrageous mass firing of British ferry workers and the stranding and endangerment of seafarers stranded by war in Ukraine. Together with the Transportation Trades Dept of the AFL-CIO, the SUP put forth a new maritime policy that will grow the U.S.-flag fleet and strengthen the supply chain. West Coast longshore negotiations are set to begin in May and Congressman Don Young is remembered.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine launched a brutal land war that killed thousands, many of them civilians and forced a refugee crisis. This issue reports on the high alert and logistical demands for NATO and the attacks on merchant shipping. The federal budget passed Congress with merchant mariners support and a key supply chain study found that U.S.-flag ships strengthen American resilience.
As war loomed and then broke out in Eastern Europe, cynical shipping interests hatched another dangerous plot to undermine American mariners via a "runaway flag" U.S. Virgin Islands ship registry. This issue covers the strong objection of American maritime labor as well the elemental failing of the rotten FOC system. SUP sailors went up the gangway in the APL Dakar, secured the work in the Watson-class ships, Kamokuiki arrived in Tonga, the SUP election concluded, that and much more in the February WCS.
As the coronavirus variant called Omicron caused a huge wave of infection, the U.S. high court partially reversed the Biden Adminstration's vaccine mandate in a confusing split decision. At the same time China's zero tolerance no-COVID policy kept pressure on both the Union and the supply chain, as we await a full accounting of the Tonga tsunami. The NDAA secured jobs for the SUP and this issue outlines passport renewals as well as Medicare/Pension benefits, costs, and rules. With sad farewell, we report the names of those who embarked on their final departures in 2021.
President Biden took the bold step of supporting workers on strike at Kellogg's, where a toxic new permanent replacement strategy was added to the labor dispute. At the same time the ominous Omicron variant wave struck the United States with fury and speed. Amazon lost at the NLRB and the SUP crewed up its newest ship the CMA-CGM Dakar. We remember Christmas parties of the past and the December loss of SUP merchant seaman over eighty years ago in 1941 at the outset of WWII aboard Cynthia Olson and Lahaina.