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.
An unprecedented riot in Washington breached Capitol security during the Electoral College vote count, but Congress had already passed pro-worker COVID relief funding. Lawmakers found the votes to overwhelmingly override a veto on the National Defense Authorization Act, which together with other legislation funded the Maritime Security Program, the Ready Reserve Force and Food for Peace. Meanwhile, the coronavirus continued its rampage and vaccines began a chaotic rollout.
The COVID-19 pandemic reached a peak not yet seen since March, just at the same time that the first vaccines arrived for health care workers. This issue gives basic information on the vaccine but many questions remain. In Washington, the leaders of the House and Senate debated a new stimulus bill.
In tumultuous times, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris emerged the historic winners of a momentous election. Democrats held onto the House as the Senate awaited two runoff elections in Georgia. In California, Prop 22 passed amidst massive corporate spending, reversing existing pro-worker law. A second wave of coronavirus flared and reopenings were put on hold. We honored our veterans, analyzed the economics of international container trades in the e-commerce era, looked at the local effects of the pandemic on rents and vacancies, reported on travel restrictions, the long hurricane season, shipping cyber attacks and the wide sweep of election outcomes in this issue.
The SUP and APL reached a new deal that improved wages and benefits and held the line against concessions. Meanwhile, the President wavered and, although a deal appears likely, Congress struggled to pass another stimulus bill to aid working families and allocate funds to the Maritime Security Program. Hackers continued maritime attacks while the election draws near. There's the full slate of labor endorsements, the improved pensioner benefits, and the terms of the regular and restricted APL agreements, all available in detail in this issue.
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden declared again his solid support for the U.S. Merchant Marine while maritime labor and other transportation unions joined to demand new COVID-19 relief and MSP funding before the end of the fiscal year. SUP crews answered the call yet again in a turbo-activation of Ready Reserve ships in the midst of travel restrictions, wildfires, hurricanes and a persistent pandemic and much more in the September West Coast Sailors here:
The latest Congressional relief plan failed, and unemployment benefits and MSP funding among trillions of other dollars were held up. Joe Biden selected Sen. Kamala Harris as his running mate and the Democratic Party sealed the deal with a formal nomination at a virtual convention. The California Labor Federation held its biennial convention and reaffirmed its strong support for maritime policy that is not a hindrance to American mariners.