July 21st 2016

Delegates representing each of the union’s five membership groups convened the 86th MM&P Regular Convention this morning at the MM&P training institute, MITAGS, in Linthicum Heights, Md.

The Regular Convention follows a one-day Constitutional Convention during which delegates debated a series of constitutional resolutions submitted by the members.

Monday’s speakers included Deputy U.S. Maritime Administrator Michael J. Rodriguez, MM&P’s Washington advocate C. James Patti, MM&P International Representative Roger Lash and Ernie Grecco, president of the Metropolitan Baltimore Council of AFL-CIO unions.

Rodriguez, who sailed as an MM&P deck officer, spoke of the Maritime Administration’s battle to contrast the decline in preference cargoes for U.S.-flagged, U.S.-crewed ships in the international trades, which now number only 78.

He said MARAD continues to push forward on a rule-making that would confirm its authority to enforce the cargo preference laws.

Patti, for years at the forefront of the battle to defend the U.S.-flag fleet from attempts to undercut or eliminate the programs and policies that sustain it, underlined the importance of voting at the federal and the state level for candidates who support the American Merchant Marine.

Our industry, he noted, has achieved significant successes on the legislative front in recent years—an increase in the funding authorization for the Maritime Security Program (MSP); defense of the Jones Act against attempts to eliminate it in the context of debt relief for Puerto Rico and other legislation; defense of the PL 480 Food for Peace program; and reauthorization of the charter of the Export-Import Bank.

But he said all of these victories, along with the jobs of all of America’s mariners, are “on the line,” in the November elections.

“We must look very closely at the two candidates for President,” he said, noting that the Heritage Foundation, which is “incredibly close” to the campaign of Donald C. Trump, has called in its “Blueprint for the Future” for the abolition of MARAD, the repeal of the Food for Peace Program and the elimination of the Jones Act.

In casting our vote, Patti said, “we have to ask ourselves whether we are going to build on the successes of the past years in defending our industry or not.”

He urged MM&P members and all U.S. mariners to “vote your job.”

Information on House and Senate candidates supported by the MM&P Political Contribution Fund (PCF) is posted on on the Members’ Only site under “Who We Support.”

The PCF gives to candidates in all parties who support the American Merchant Marine.

Complete coverage of the Conventions will be published in The Master, Mate & Pilot’s Special Convention Issue.

In the meantime, follow us on Facebook: @IOMMP; on Twitter @MMP_UNION; and on Instagram: BRIDGEDECK.ORG.

Important Reminder: the MM&P Headquarters Staff is assisting at the Convention.

You will be able to reach HQ staff by e-mail but members are advised not to leave important messages on staff voice mail during this period and not to come to HQ in person unless prior arrangements have been made.

Normal office hours will resume July 22.