October 27th 2016

Members of the Panama Canal Tugboat Captains’ Union–la Unión de Capitanes y Oficiales de Cubierta (UCOC)—have voted to affiliate with MM&P.

UCOC Secretary-General Iván De La Guardia and MM&P President Don Marcus signed the affiliation agreement at an Oct. 19 press conference in Balboa, Panama.

“This is an important day for both unions,” Marcus said.

“Over the course of the past eight years, in their fight for a fair contract, UCOC members have faced many challenges that include threats to their livelihoods, working conditions and safety linked to the Panama Canal’s expansion.”

He congratulated UCOC on achieving a fair contract after the eight-year battle and pledged to support UCOC members in every way possible.

De La Guardia said that affiliation with MM&P will give UCOC “a stronger voice to face future challenges,” including those posed by private contractors that appeared on the scene because canal administrators had not acted to obtain the manpower or equipment necessary to deal with the number of ships expected to traverse the new locks.

For MM&P, Marcus said, the affiliation is particularly gratifying in that it marks a “return to our origins,” because Panama Canal captains were represented by the MM&P Atlantic & Gulf Maritime Region from 1918 until shortly after the United States turned over the canal to Panama in 1999.

“MM&P salutes the efforts of UCOC and welcomes them–essentially back–into our Organization,” he said.

“In a courageous eight-year battle with the Panama Canal Administration, UCOC single-handedly won a milestone first contract,” he added.

“That outstanding achievement puts them in a good position to protect their future. We look forward to working with Iván De La Guardia and his brothers and sisters in addressing the serious issues–including fatigue, training and outsourcing–that continue to confront them as they carry out their professional responsibilities on the Panama Canal.”