West Coast Sailors

December 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.

November 2021

A trillion-dollar Congressional infrastructure package that will benefit labor for years was signed into law. Although there are still some units that are either striking or still bargaining, a large coalition of health-care Unions reached a tentative deal with Kaiser, narrowly averting a major strike. The booster shot is now available to all adults in the U.S., maritime labor again took up the fight against sexual abuse and harassment and SUP elections were set to get underway on December 1.   

October 2021

The SUP returned to the South Pacific under the U.S. flag on the Matson decks of Kamokuiki. This issue explores the genetic history of Polynesian voyaging, finding that Samoan mariners were among the greatest discoverers the world has ever known. Meanwhile, back in Washington, the adversaries of American mariners proposed permanent waiver of what was a temporary COVID emergency exclusion of the “foreign port” provision of the Passenger Vessel Services Act. Vaccination deadlines loom, COVID congestion persists, a top MarAd nomination is made, and we remember El Faro.

September 2021

SUP crews took over the decks of government reserve ships in a major RRF activation during the Delta surge in late August, once again staring down the danger and overcoming a million obstacles to prove readiness. The AFL-CIO proved its own resilience with the election of President Liz Shuler to succeed Rich Trumka and labor was a key element of the defeat the Calfiornia recall vote. This issue reports on Jones Act scammers, supply chain woes, merchant ship attacks, vaccine mandates, election information, APL wages and much more. 

August 2021

The Union marked the sudden loss of a fierce Union leader, Rich Trumka. The loss was compounded by the passing of SUP stalwart Art Thanash, while the rest of us grappled with the pandemic whiplash caused by the onset of the Delta variant. This issue reports on present and future vaccination mandates, major bi-partisan infrastructure legislation, a first fatal shipping drone strike, SUP election information including pending nominations for office, Watson-class award extension, and Matson's vaccination incentive program. Look astern at parades of the past and Happy Labor Day!

July 2021

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. 

June 2021

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.

May 2021

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.

April 2021

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.

March 2021

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.