SUP Halls Closed for President's Day
All SUP hiring halls will be closed on February 19, 2024 for President's Day, a national and SUP contract holiday.
U.S. Maritime Labor Requests Red Sea Communications Upgrades
On National Maritime Day, 2021 President Biden declared that "We must protect those who protect our country..."
"Since the first days of our Republic, America has been a proud maritime Nation. To this day, the United States Merchant Marine is a pillar of our country’s prosperity, playing a vital role in the maintenance of our economic and national security. Through every period of peace and war, our merchant mariners have been dedicated to protecting our freedom and promoting commerce." Now he has made good on that promise by responding to the Union's request for greater protections in contested waters such as the Red Sea.
A broad coalition of U.S. maritime labor unions joined a January 19th letter to request greater coordination between naval forces and U.S.-flag merchant ships off Yemen and in the Bab el-Mandeb Strait of the Red Sea. Writing to TRANSCOM's General Jacqueline D. Van Ovost, they expressed thanks for the efforts already made to protect U.S. shipping and urged further cooperation. Labor noted the potentially catastrophic nature of the attacks on ships and agreed that the United States had a right to protect its sovereignty when threatened. In particular, to make it safer for American sailors to do their work, the Unions made special appeal for secure communication links between U.S. commercial vessels and the naval vessels in the region.
The incomparable value of the logistical capability of U.S.-flag ships and sailors in contested and treacherous waters is famous. The United States Merchant Marine has operated side-by-side with the United States military in every conflict in the nation's history. U.S. naval assets have historically protected U.S. ships and crews as they sail into harm’s way to providing materiel and supplies to the warfighter. The improved communication link will strengthen that bond and should deter other adversaries from taking unwise action against American targets. A demonstration to other carriers that the United States is committed to protecting its own shipping, might also also incentivize other carriers to put their vessels under the U.S.-flag, enhancing the appeal of the United States Merchant Marine, the letter said.
Union members in U.S. merchant ships continue to deliver the goods, as the United States Merchant Marine has done, in peace and war, since 1775.
See the letter from maritime labor here.
Pentagon Says U.S. Will Protect Its Merchant Ships and Sailors
As waves of attacks aimed at commercial ships came from Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen months of defensive action shot down dozens of drones and missiles aimed at unarmed merchant ships in the Red Sea and other Mideast waters. Now, U.S. and British military took the first offensive action against the Houthis to defend the international sea lanes. The Pentagon issued a statement saying that it would protect U.S. sailors and ships and others that transit the area.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin wrote "In light of the illegal, dangerous, and destabilizing Iranian-backed Houthi attacks against U.S. and international vessels and commercial vessels from many countries lawfully transiting the Red Sea, today the militaries of the United States and the United Kingdom, with support from Australia, Bahrain, Canada, and the Netherlands, conducted strikes against military targets in Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen. This action is intended to disrupt and degrade the Houthis’ capabilities to endanger mariners and threaten global trade in one of the world’s most critical waterways. Today’s coalition action sends a clear message to the Houthis that they will bear further costs if they do not end their illegal attacks.
Today’s strikes targeted sites associated with the Houthis’ unmanned aerial vehicle, ballistic and cruise missile, and coastal radar and air surveillance capabilities. The United States maintains its right to self-defense and, if necessary, we will take follow-on actions to protect U.S. forces.
Since November 19, the Houthis have launched more than two dozen attacks on vessels, including commercial vessels, creating an international challenge that demands collective action. Today, a coalition of countries committed to upholding the rules-based international order demonstrated our shared commitment to defending U.S. and international vessels and commercial vessels exercising navigational rights and freedoms from illegal and unjustifiable attacks.
We will not hesitate to defend our forces, the global economy, and the free flow of legitimate commerce in one of the world’s vital waterways."
Election Season Begins with Labor's Primary Endorsements
The election season in the run up to the presidential election in 2024 officially started yesterday, December 5th, when the California Labor Federation held its 2023-2024 Pre-Primary Convention in Oakland. Elected delegates endorsed a full slate of candidates for primary season and beyond. They also took action to support Califonia's Ballot Measure 1, the Behavioral Health Services Bond Measure to support mental health. The full endorsement list for California Labor endorsements for State Assembly, State Senate, U.S. Congressional House of Representatives, and the U.S. Senate can be accessed HERE:
SUP Recognizes New SASH policies in NDAA
The James M. Inhofe National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2023 introduced important updates to various laws within Title 46 of the United States Code to enhance crew safety and address sexual assault and sexual harassment. Key changes include mandated surveillance systems, crew training, reporting procedures, and master key controls on select vessels. The U.S. Coast Guard has released policy documents to provide guidance for compliance. These changes underscore the commitment to fostering a safer and more respectful maritime environment through the elimination of sexual assault and sexual harassment from the workplace.
The SUP neither condones nor tolerates Sexual Assault or Sexual Harassment in any form. We aim for 100% compliance with the law, regulations and recently developed industry guidelines. See the Coast Guard's Marine Safety Bulletin on SASH policy as a starting point. For more information, refer to Maritime Safety Information Bulletin (MSIB) 13-23. Also, see MSIB 1-23 for further information on reporting sexual misconduct on U.S. vessels. You can view those documents on the SUP website in the Related Documents section of the Delegate’s Resources page. Questions can be directed to email@example.com
SUP Honors American Veterans
On Veterans Day, the Sailors' Union of the Pacific honors generations of American men and women who have served the nation in time of war. We pay tribute to their valor, courage and sacrifice. As merchant mariners we understand too how such service can be overlooked or misunderstood. For us, it's not an empty holiday, not a formality, not a ceremonial tribute. The U.S. merchant marine has always helped defend democracy. And today as much as ever we remain grateful heirs to a tradition that keeps the supply lines open to deliver safety and victory at home and abroad.
SUP Opposes Second Register Proposal
Along with a broad coalition of American labor and U.S. maritime Unions, the SUP signed onto a letter denouncing a second U.S.flag ship registry. Forces inimical to the U.S. merchant marine and American mariners, this time represented by a Washington think tank called the Hudson Institute, pushed for a second ship register, which would allow for a separate set of regulations while still claiming American status. The scheme would allow for U.S. naval protection while at the same time lowering wages, safety and environmental standards, and outsourcing of American jobs. Effectively an American flag-of-convenience, it would hollow out American shipping as it endangers our national security and attempts to bust our Unions. Accordingly, the SUP joined a letter in opposition urging the Biden Administration to soundly reject the notion.Relief Efforts Begin
Sudden wildfires caused enormous devastation in Maui and the Big Island of Hawaii this week. Dozens of people were killed, and more than 1700 structures were damaged or destroyed. Many were left homeless with no possessions, racing away from their homes in the midst of the blaze, seeking protection in the sea. The fires were whipped by strong winds from Hurricane Dora passing far to the south and fed by dry conditions. In the ashes was Lahaina Town, one of Hawaii’s most historic cities and onetime capital of the former kingdom. As the fires continued to rage, tourists were advised to stay away, and about 11,000 visitors flew out of Maui on Wednesday, with at least another 1,500 expected to leave Thursday, according to Ed Sniffen, state transportation director. Officials prepared the Hawaii Convention Center in Honolulu to take in the thousands who have been displaced. Islanders are helping themselves and more help is on the way.
Local Relief Resources and Donations: A good source of local links to Hawaii emergency services, government assistance, food banks, relief agencies, counseling, donations, and more is available HERE.
Federal Fire Relief Resources: A good source for federal aid and other aid resources among many other things is available HERE courtesy of Hawaii Sen. Brian Schatz.
AFL-CIO: The Union Community Fund run by the AFL-CIO has a good track record and is also collecting donations for Maui residents. Secure credit card contributions can be made at go.aflcio.org/relief. Checks can be sent to Union Community Fund noting "Disaster Relief Efforts" in the memo line and sent to 815 Black Lives Matter Plaza NW, Washington DC 20006.
Matson Navigation is coordinating donations to the "Maui Strong Fund" through the Hawaii Community Foundation which can be directly accessed HERE.
SUP Remembers Bloody Thursday
Union strikers amid the tear gas, including members of the Sailors’ Union of the Pacific confront police armed with billy clubs and firearms, as spectators watch from safety atop Rincon Hill in San Francisco, on the morning of July 5, 1934.
The Big Strike, as it was known, came in May of 1934, when maritime workers in every US West Coast port walked out for better wages, conditions and Union hiring halls. It reached a momentous turning point with the death of two strikers on July 5, 1934, which was instantly known as "Bloody Thursday." It led to a giant funeral procession and a general strike in San Francisco, where all work was stopped for four days, eventually turning the tide toward Union recognition and control of the hiring process.
A pivotal moment in hard times, a time of deprivation and depression, when workers had no rights: The Big Strike was one of the most important events in world labor history. It had many cascading effects of worker empowerment, making West Coast ports Union havens, and soon became the driving force behind the legislative effort of the Wagner Act in 1935. Known as the National Labor Relations Act, that law recognized the rights of nearly all workers to form or join a Union, the “Magna Carta” of American organized labor still elemental to employment today. They fought and died, and created a better America.
Independence Day, 2023
The 4th of July is a day of national observance of the moment of our independence from the British Empire. The date itself comes from the document, boldly inscribed at the top of the parchment: it was July 4, 1776 when the newly formed Second Continental Congress approved of the final wording of the Declaration of Independence. But years of struggle and resistance preceded it, and it June 12, 1775 that the first armed conflict at sea took place, between American merchant mariners and a British warship, in Machias, Maine, only a few months after "the shot heard round the world" was fired at Lexington and Concord. This is how the U.S. merchant marine pre-dates both the U.S. Navy and the nation itself, and fueled by that original American spirit and an ongoing obligation, how we celebrate the holiday.
SUP Celebrates Juneteenth
On June 17, 2021 President Biden signed legislation that made Juneteenth (June 19th) a federal holiday. The holiday's name is a blend of the words "June" and "Ninetheeth," the date of its celebration. The new holiday officially commemorates the ending of slavery in the United States. It derives from the arrival date of Union troops in geographically isolated Galveston Texas on June 18, 1865, when General Granger announced emancipation in the form of "General Order No. 3" which read in part:
"The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor."
The national recognition of the pain and suffering of generations of Black Americans is monumental enough, but the holiday also speaks to honest employment relationships, as the proclamation says. A day's work for a day's pay, and for that, as well as all of the deep historical and social motivations, the SUP celebrates Juneteenth.
Longshore Workers Reach Six Year Deal
SUP Celebrates Kamehameha Day
Kamehameha the Great was the Hawaiian conqueror and king who founded the Kamehameha dynasty and forged the Hawaiian Islands together under a single government. Also known as Kamehameha I and the Napoleon of the Pacific, he was the leader of Hawai'i from 1782 until his death on May 8, 1819. He united the Islands by supreme military and diplomatic skill, he introduced laws to uphold human rights in combat situations, and he was a fair and stable leader for a very long time. The Kamehameha Statue Lei Draping ceremony is one of the main events of the celebration, taking place in front of Ali‘iolani Hale in downtown Honolulu. On June 11 the SUP honors Kamehameha, the great State of Hawai'i, and the unique and wonderful Hawaiian culture and economy that is so central to the life-blood of the Union. SUP halls will be closed on Monday June 12 in observance.
Super-Typhoon Lashes Guam: SUP Crews Arrive with Aid
A massive Category 4 typhoon with winds over 175 mph devastated the U.S. island territory of Guam last week. Power and internet was down, and widespread flooding and other damage to homes, buildings, resorts, roads, and the port was reported. First in with the necessary supplies was the Matson containership, Maunawili, (30,000 dwt), with SUP members on board. The APL CMA-CGM Heradote, using ship's gear offloaded next, and Manoa quickly followed, discharging containers of desperately needed general goods. With more than 150,000 people on the island, and at least 6,800 service personnel, Guam is in a state of emergency and will be in need of assistance for some time to come.
SUP Remembers, Memorial Day 2023
On Memorial Day we honor the sacrifices of fallen service members including the U.S. merchant mariners and members of the Sailors' Union of the Pacific, who put their lives on the line for our nation. They answered the call to serve and defend our country with courage and dedication despite understanding the enormous risks. In World War II, more than 240,000 American mariners delivered the goods and transported the troops in support of the Allied war effort. They faced torpedoes, bombings, kamikaze attacks, ice, storms and the endless peril of the sea. An estimated 9,600 were killed in action.
On the national event on Sunday, May 28, World War II veteran and merchant mariner David Yoho, will speak to the importance of the American Merchant Marine. And for the first time ever, the American Merchant Marine Veterans' Association will participate in the wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The events and concert that follows can be live streamed here at Memorial Day Concert.
SUP Honors Mariners on National Maritime Day, May 22, 2023
SUP and MFOW members gathered at the "American Merchant Marine Veterans Wall of Honor" on Maritime Day 2023 in San Pedro, California. The Wall records the names of merchant mariners lost at sea in service to the United States.
May 22nd is set aside by a joint act of Congress and by proclamation of the President of the United States to honor the sacrifices and contributions of U.S. merchant mariners during times of peace and war. The day was chosen in 1933 at first to commemorate the American ship Savannah’s first successful steam-powered crossing of the Atlantic. Since then it has grown to recognize much more. The roots of the U.S. Merchant Marine predate the founding of the nation, and was critical to the spirit of independence and winning of the Revolutionary War. Throughout the decades, mariners and maritime policy have been integral to the nation. In World War II, more than 250,000 members of the American Merchant Marine served their country and more than 6,700 gave their lives as 800 ships were sunk. Athought it is neither a national nor contract holiday -- yet -- it is the only day that recognizes merchant mariners as key figures advancing our national prosperity and security.
Maritime Labor Opposes Shipping Reform that Undercuts Workers
On March 17, the Transportation Trades Dept of the AFL-CIO, of which the SUP is a member, officially opposed the Ocean Shipping Antitrust Enforcement Act of 2023 (H.R. 1696) to repeal the limited antitrust immunity afforded to foreign ocean carriers and dissolve the three major foreign shipping company alliances. This would have serious unintended consequences for dockworkers and other maritime workers that service these foreign ocean carriers at U.S. ports. We urge lawmakers to consider the adverse impact that this legislation would have on U.S. maritime workers.
Eliminating this limited antitrust immunity would undermine the ocean carriers’ ability to form vessel sharing agreements, which enable carriers to share space on one another’s ships. Shared vessel space benefits both carriers and shippers by ensuring that vessels sail as full as possible, providing customers with more frequent service at more ports at a lower cost. The effect on maritime labor is considerable since these carriers are members of coastwise multiemployer bargaining associations that negotiate and administer offshore and longshore collective bargaining agreements. By operation, this means they have employer status, even though they do not directly employ the longshore workers who service their vessels.
In addition, many dockworkers who work at small to medium-sized ports will suffer a decrease in man hours due to the elimination of vessel sharing agreements, as carriers will likely concentrate their services at larger ports because demand in these regions is higher and, in turn, vessel space can be filled more quickly. As a result of fewer sailings to smaller and medium-sized ports, there will be less consistent work at these ports, and a significant percentage of dockworkers will likely experience a decrease in work opportunity.
We stand in solidarity with our longshore brothers and sisters, and all others in maritime labor by opposing the passage of H.R. 1696 and urge lawmakers to consider the adverse impact that this legislation will have on maritime workers.
Unions Tell Congress to Raise the Debt Ceiling
SUP Observes Workers Memorial Day
On April 28, the labor movement observes Workers Memorial Day to remember workers killed, injured, or made ill on the job. More than 50 years ago on April 28, 1971, the Occupational Safety and Health Act went into effect, promising every worker the right to a safe job—a fundamental right. The law was won because of the labor movement pressing government to protect working people. Since then, unions have kept up the fight and won many more protections that have saved lives. The Coast Guard and not OSHA has safety jurisdiction on ships, but most of the standards and all of the principles are the same. The seagoing life is by its nature a high-risk endeavor, but no one in any job goes to work to get hurt or killed. Yet every year thousands are killed on the job and millions more injured while working in dangerous conditions. Today as ever we honor our fallen sisters and brothers with the fresh demand for protections against preventable workplace hazards: heat illness, workplace violence, infectious diseases, and toxic exposures. At sea and ashore, we expect and deserve the dignity of safety at work.SUP Ratifies Chevron Agreement
The SUP Negotiating Committee reached a three-year agreement with Chevron Shipping Co. covering sailors in all three unlicensed departments of the Company's U.S.-flag ships. The historic deal contains significant improvements in wages, working conditions, and benefits. It also preserves and improves job security, puts fresh value and protections on time off, sets about the recognition and retention of sailors with long service, helps build the mariner pool and streamlines the relief process while generally working to shelter the quality of life of members against the high winds of inflation and post-pandemic frustration. The membership agreed and in the February coastwise meetings ratified the Agreement. Wage increase are retroactive to February 1, 2023. For more check out the February issue of the West Coast Sailors.
SUP Employee Assistance Resources
The SUP Welfare Plan provides access to high quality and free employee assistance services including confidential counseling, financial help, online peer group support, 24 hour crisis help including suicide prevention, among many other things. Our provider, Uprise Health, has a more complete list of services and resources at www.uprisehealth.com or our SUP-specific benefits and the Uprise brochure is available on this site under the SUP Welfare Plan tab above and dropdown list heading at EAP. If there are any problems or questions on access, contact the SUP Welfare Plan at 415 778 5490 or the SUP at 415 777 3400.
Matson Returns to Aloha-class
Matson struck a deal to build three new 3,600 TEU Aloha-class containerships for an aggregate price of approximately $1 billion. The first vessel is expected to be delivered in the fourth quarter of 2026 with subsequent deliveries in 2027. The new vessels will join two Aloha-class ships previously built for Matson that entered service in 2018 and 2019 -- the Daniel K. Inouye and the Kaimana Hila. Like their sisterships, the new vessels will be equipped with dual fuel engines that are designed to burn cleaner LNG fuel. The 854-foot Aloha-class vessels are the largest containerships ever built in the U.S. and are designed to operate at speeds in excess of 23 knots. They will be built in Philadelphia and operate in the Jones Act trade.
SUP Ratifies APL Agreement
The SUP membership voted in overwhelmingly in favor of a newly bargained Agreement with APL Marine Services. The tentative Agreement was reached in late September and ratified in October meetings. It provides for retroactive raises, the Juneteenth holiday, better internet access and safety equipment, and ordinary seamen development billets. It maintains health care and jurisdiction protections and came with two pension upgrades among and other improvements. The Agreement covers the company's nine ships participating in the nation's Maritime Security Program, as well as shoreside maintenance jobs and carries through September of 2024.
TSA launches new online TWIC renewal process
Wednesday, August 10, 2022
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) enhanced the renewal process for the Transportation Worker Identification Credential or TWIC to help support critical transportation workers. Starting August 11, 2022, TSA enabled current TWIC holders to renew online, which eliminates the need to go to an enrollment center and makes the five-year renewal process more convenient.
Please visit TSA’s enrollment provider website for information on TWIC enrollments and renewals. If applicants encounter difficulty renewing online, they may contact customer service at (855) 347-8371. For more information on the TWIC program, visit the TSA TWIC website or the Coast Guard TWIC website.
AFL-CIO Backs Up the Jones Act
At the June Convention, delegates passed a strong and historic resolution backing the Jones Act, America's main maritime law. The Maritime Trades Department of the AFL-CIO had drafted and earlier passed the resolution referring it on to the highest policy making body in organized labor. The action reinforced labor's long-time support fo the centruy-old law that is the legal foundation of the the U.S. merchant marine. More in the July edition of West Coast Sailors. U.S. Maritime Labor Stands Up For Ukraine
In a letter to President Biden, America's seagoing unions condemned the attack on Ukraine and pledged their full support for freedom and democracy around the world. The Russian invasion of that country has drawn widespread condemnation and poses the most serious threat to U.S. friends and allies in Europe since World War II. It has also called the American military and its support infrastructure to attention. Speaking on behalf of American mariners, the Union presidents announced their readiness to provide the sealift services they are typically called on to provide, by long history and proud tradition, in times of war and national emergency. The full text of the letter can be view here.
USNS SISLER Arrives in Norway
The MSC ship USNS SISLER arrived in Norway as part of an allied joint exercise called Operation Cold Response 22. The ship departed the pre-positioning home port of Diego Garcia in January and arrived in Hammernesodden Norway on February 14 after a brief logistics stop in Spain at Rota. The SISLER carries cargo in support of US Marine Expeditionary Force II. Operation Cold Response will include a total of 28 nations and approximately 35,000 troops including 14,000 land troops, 13,000 sailors and navy personnel, while the remaining 8,000 participants are air force troops and various staff officers based at various military bases in Norway. SISLER is crewed on deck by the SUP.
U.S. Maritime Unions Object to Proposed Caribbean Second Register
Maritime labor unions joined together to both expose and denunciate a dangerous U.S. flag-of-convenience scheme based in the Virgin Islands. Simply put, it is a runaway flag assistance initiative with the same race-to-the-bottom economics that has already nearly destroyed the U.S. flag merchant marine.
The heads of the seagoing Unions said the proposal, which would allow for the operation of vessels with foreign mariners under an open registry that claims to be part of the United States but would escape most U.S. regulation, is "an affront to the American mariners who have always put themselves in harm’s way whenever called upon by our nation." And along with harm to American economic security, the decimated national flag fleet that inevitably follows flag-of-convenience second registers puts the nation's military logistical support at risk.
At a time when Americans are keenly aware of the fragility of the foreign components of the supply chain the Unions called out even the talk of such a scheme as hazardous to the nation. “If the supply chain crisis has taught us anything it is that we, as a country, must begin to reverse the dangerous reliance we have on foreign sources for goods and for shipping services. Increasing America’s dependence on foreign owned and foreign manned vessels will exacerbate the current situation and will not somehow magically enhance America’s maritime posture."
“Open registries exist so that shipowners can increase their profits by avoiding the same rules, regulations, tax obligations and manning requirements that attach to a national flag fleet. This latest effort is nothing more than an exercise in labor arbitrage designed to generate registry fees and to enrich foreign shipowners at the expense of American workers and America’s national interests."
To read the statement in its entirety click here.
SUP Provides New EAP Benefit
A new Vendor for the SUP Welfare Plan's "Employee Assistance Provider" services (EAP) was contracted by the Trustees of the SUP Welfare Plan to begin on December 1, 2021. The benefit was previously administered by Human Behavior Associates and will now be managed by Uprise Health, Inc. The EAP benefits are avialble to all employees and their families at no cost. Uprise offers a confidential advice and support program along with a broad range of physical and mental health services. Those services include:
Confidential Counseling: up to 3 face-to-face, video or telephonic counseling sessions for relationship and family issues, stress, anxiety, and other common challenges.
Online Peer Support Groups: Online support groups for addiction recovery, anxiety, depression, frontline workers, grief and loss, parenting and more.
24 hour Crisis Help: toll-free access for you or a family member experiencing a crisis.
To contact Uprise health call 866-949-3667. There is also a digitally enabled platform available at Uprise Health that includes a lot of detailed information and additional benefits. Or you can download the Uprise Health app at Google Play or the Apple App Store. Active members who are enrolled in medical coverage through the Plan or another group health plan have additional access to a Supplemental Substance Abuse Benefit.