News

Wheelhouse Weekly – December 01, 2006

December 1st 2006

 

– Bridging the Information Gap With E-News You Can Use –

Volume 10 . . . . . Number 48. . . . December 1, 2006

STORIES COVERED

Also

REMINDERS

T-AGS Oceanographic Survey Ships Info

Required Coursework

Security Clearances

MSC Physicals

MM&P Health & Benefit Plan News

Notice to Members who are taking Vioxx

NMHC Mail-Order Prescriptions Website Updated & Improved

WWII USCG Veterans Outreach

Company Gives Bucks Back for buying Safe Shoes

Website Offers Union-Made Goods and Services




Did you miss a week? Back editions of the Wheelhouse Weekly are available in the section.





 

MM&P’S OFFICIAL COMMENTS REGARDING PROPOSED NAVIGATION VESSEL INFORMATION CIRCULAR: ”MEDICAL AND PHYSICAL EVALUATION GUIDELINES FOR MERCHANT MARINER CREDENTIALS”

IMPORTANT MESSAGE FROM MM&P PRESIDENT CAPTAIN TIM BROWN

“For the last several months, MM&P has been developing a comprehensive response with regard to the USCG’s proposed Navigation Vessel Information Circular (NVIC) “Medical and Physical Evaluation Guidelines for Merchant Mariner Credentials” Docket No. USCG 2006-25080. The Coast Guard’s plan to implement these far-reaching “medical and physical standards” could have a drastic and dramatic effect on the future careers of MM&P members.

Over the last several months, MM&P has devoted much of its time, effort and resources to developing the following official docket comments regarding the proposed NVIC. Members are strongly urged to review this material in its entirety so they can acquire a better understanding of why we believe the proposed NVIC is an excessive response toward making improvements and carries an excessive impact on the community of mariners from all sectors of the maritime industry.

MM&P has a vital interest in the health and fitness of our seafaring members and the US Coast Guard’s (USCG) administration of its medical review processes. MM&P members will be directly affected by the proposed Navigation Vessel and Information Circular (NVIC) in terms of the cost of compliance, the potential for lost income, and the possibility for loss of livelihood. We commend the USCG for opening the process of implementing this proposed NVIC to the public. We feel the decision by the USCG to make changes in the medical review process by using the NVIC as a vehicle is a good one because the medical review process is an emergent work and will undoubtedly need to be reworked and refined.”

Editor’s Note: The text of MM&P’s official comments to the USCG on DOCKET NO. USCG 2006-25080 is printed below. This info will be posted in all MM&P Port Halls and is available on the web at: http://dms.dot.gov/. Use the docket number 25080 to search and view all the comments that have been received. For further info, contact MM&P’s Assistant to the President Mike Rodriguez at mrodriguez@bridgedeck.org or by phone at 410-850-8700 ext.23.

OVERVIEW

On October 15, 2003, the Staten Island Ferry ANDREW J. BARBERI, with crew and passengers on board, allided with a pier at the Staten Island Ferry terminal. There was loss of life and many passengers were injured. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigated the accident and issued the agency’s recommendations in a report released on March 8, 2005. The NTSB recommended that the USCG review its medical oversight processes. The NVIC is a result of the USCG’s review. While we agree that the current system of medical review needs to be improved, we believe the proposed NVIC is an excessive response toward making improvements and carries an excessive impact on the community of mariners from all sectors of the maritime industry.

These comments are given in two sections. The first is meant to be general comments while the attachment contains comments regarding specific medical conditions in Enclosure (3).

Concerns Regarding This Process

While we commend the USCG for opening this NVIC to public comment, we wish to point out the NVIC process is not subject to important regulatory requirements that would help the USCG to understand the impact of this proposal. Specifically, this process does not require the USCG to contemplate economic effects or the impact of the NVIC upon operations. Therefore, the USCG is not so closely engaged with the industry and lacks critical sensitivity to impacts its proposal will have in terms of cost and the potential to drive experienced mariners out of or prospective mariners away from the profession. These effects will be manifested not only directly through disqualification but also indirectly by creating a barrier to entry. The effect of this will potentially be felt in a decrease in the number of mariners available for support of national defense, national emergency sealift and the general waterborne commerce of our nation.

Since there is no requirement for the USCG to estimate the cost to the industry of this NVIC, we feel the USCG has underestimated the number of mariners who will be affected, the number of requests for medical waivers resulting, the number of staff and the level of resources the USCG will need to dedicate to processing waivers. So while we commend the USCG for accepting comments on the NVIC, we have serious concerns that the USCG does not have an accurate notion of the true impact of this policy. Therefore, it is critically important that the USCG make a more determined effort to listen to the industry on this issue and strive for a reasonable medical policy.

RIGHT TO PRIVACY AND OTHER PROTECTIONS

The right to privacy is a basic entitlement that is protected by federal law. We have received several comments from members that what might be described as protected health information under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) appears on credentials issued by the USCG. The opening discussion of the NVIC contains no statement of policy relating to a mariner’s right to privacy. Since the NVIC is meant to be guidance for those involved in the medical review process, it should contain strong assurances that a mariner’s medical information will be protected in compliance with the requirements of HIPAA.

Employers, medical examiners, and reviewing personnel within the USCG must also comply with the provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as it applies to discrimination on the basis of disability. We are concerned that the discussion of the NVIC does not contain strong enough guidance on this issue. Quite the opposite for, in fact, paragraph 5.n. contains language to employers that states: “Nothing in this NVIC precludes marine employers from establishing more rigorous medical or physical ability standards to promote or ensure the safety of life, property and the marine environment”. We feel employers should be strongly cautioned and reminded of their obligations under the ADA which requires employers to show that their “rigorous medical or physical ability standards are reasonable and related to the job.

Absent due respect for the existing protections of individual rights under the law, we are concerned that employer-imposed standards will lead to damaged labor relations, increased cost to employers, mariners and their representatives, and lost income for those effected mariners.

EXCESSIVE REQUIREMENTS FOR INFORMATION

The NVIC proposes 202 “potentially disqualifying” conditions that will require extensive evaluation before issuance of a Merchant Mariner’s Document (MMD), a license, certificate of registry or STCW endorsement (collectively “credentials”). We feel the list is too extensive and casts an overly wide net that will require many mariners to apply for medical waivers.
For instance, several of the potentially disqualifying conditions require information regarding medical treatment, especially treatment for psychological conditions, that seems to be required solely to identify the use of medications. This information is already requested under “Potentially Disqualifying Medications” (Enclosure 3, pg. 30).

In addition, it is difficult for us to see how several of the conditions in the NVIC would put a mariner at risk of sudden incapacitation or reduce the mariner’s ability to perform routine or emergency duties. In fact, one could make a far reaching assumption for many of the conditions listed in Enclosure (3) and say each might cause a “significant impairment of functional status” or present “a risk of sudden incapacitation”. We feel that the USCG should develop its list of conditions by considering the actual vs. the theoretical risk that a mariner might be suddenly incapacitated. Furthermore, pilots and docking masters are not required to “Handle ship’s stores” or perform “General vessel maintenance”. Therefore, the ability of these individuals to perform their duties should not be evaluated based upon these criteria.

COST TO THE MARINER AND TO THE INDUSTRY

The evaluations, consultations and documentation required in Enclosure (3) to obtain a waiver are nothing less than awesome and will require comprehensive testing that will be both expensive and time consuming. The increasing cost of health care makes it impossible to predict how much more mariners and their health care plans will have to pay in connection with this NVIC going forward.

In our experience for the year 2005, the MM&P Health and Benefit Plans were charged nearly $11.1M for the evaluations and consultations associated with the various conditions listed in the NVIC. The average cost per claim was $609 with each MM&P member paying an average $278 per claim. The figures for 2006, as of October 31, are comparable.

Acknowledging that some of these costs would be paid by the plan regardless of the NVIC, we expect the required additional evaluations and consultations to increase these costs significantly over time. We also anticipate that much of the cost the mariner may have to bear out-of-pocket because some health care plans do not cover procedures that are not diagnostic or associated with ongoing treatment.

The MM&P is proud of our relationship with the employer trustees who jointly administer our plans and help to keep our costs down. However, despite these efforts, the increased costs associated with this NVIC will have to be passed on to our employers who are already operating under greater burdens than their foreign competitors. We feel that this alone should be enough justification for granting examining physicians more discretion than allowed by the NVIC so as to reduce the amount of documentation the mariner will need to present to the USCG.

EFFECTS OF ANTICIPATED BACKLOGS

It is inevitable that the NVIC will increase the volume of applications for medical waivers and bog down the process. In fact, as explained below, the USCG acknowledges this. We are concerned that the increased volume of applications will result in backlogs that will cause mariners to lose income while waiting for their applications to be processed. In fact, the USCG states in Enclosure (5) that the Regional Examination Centers (REC’s) will return any requests for waivers that are not properly documented. Given that the medical review process will begin at the REC’s and mariners and the industry are already frustrated with the existing process, there will be a cost to the mariner in terms of lost income due to delays. This cost can not be determined. However, it will be severe for those individuals who are affected by it. Employers who must fill billets will also feel this effect of the NVIC.

In addition, USCG representatives have stated in public forums that of the estimated 200,000 US mariners, approximately 2% or 4,000 apply for medical waivers each year. USCG representatives, in the same public forums, have estimated this NVIC will result in about a 10% increase in the number of waiver applications bringing the average number of expected applications to 4,400 per year. According to the USCG, seven individuals at the National Maritime Center (NMC) will be assigned to process waivers. We understand that three of these individuals will be evaluators with the authority to make decisions.

That leaves an average of nearly 1,467 applications for waivers per evaluator. Given a total of about 241 working days in each year, that brings the average number of applications to be processed by each evaluator to 6 per day. We are concerned that this number may be more than one person can handle. The Medical Review Process, given in Enclosure (5) intends to lighten the burden on the evaluators at NMC by pushing it downstream to the REC’s. We repeat that the industry’s experience with the REC’s has been less than favorable. We also point out that this does not eliminate the burden or reduce it at all. It merely shifts it to others in the process.

UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES
Increased Liability of Mariners

Regarding the list of Potentially Disqualifying Medications in Enclosure (3), it is unclear to us what liability will extend to the mariner for failing to disclose the use of over-the-counter drugs, herbal supplements, and prescription medications. Mariners are now being denied their licenses and documents for failure to disclose even the most irrelevant and dated violations. For instance, recently an MM&P retiree was denied renewal of his license for a misdemeanor he committed in 1954. Our concern is that the same heavy-handed, “zero tolerance” overregulation will put mariners at jeopardy of losing their documents.

Increased Retirements

The MM&P also considers as a cause for concern the prospect of an accelerated rate of retirements. The mariner population is aging and as part of the normal process of aging, many are beginning to cope with the usual physical conditions. Most of these conditions are manageable. However, considering the usual burdens of going to sea like increased workloads, criminalization, and the denial of shore leave in many ports, we feel the uncertainty of the medical review process will lead mariners to retire at earlier.

This could have two unintended consequences. First, it may lead to a dilution of experience as senior mariners leave the industry. Second, it may also place an unexpected and additional burden on industry-wide pension funds requiring higher employer contribution rates at a time when the employers are facing foreign competitors who do not have the same cost structure.
We feel this is an example of the USCG’s lack of understanding regarding the various impacts of the NVIC.

Mariners Declining to Seek Treatment

Perhaps the most serious unintended consequence of the NVIC is one that it is meant to prevent. We have the gravest concern that the kind of overreaching regulation contemplated in the NVIC is a powerful disincentive for those individuals who need treatment to seek it or to continue receiving it order to avoid the uncertainty and risk of the waiver process.

For instance the NVIC itself illustrates that an individual who takes antidepressants for smoking cessation will require a waiver before the USCG will issue a credential. Another example is the mariner’s use of anti-motion sickness medication. We ask if the USCG intends that those mariners who need such aids will be denied their livelihoods. Consequently, we see a potential serious impact upon operations to the extent that mariners with totally unidentified medical conditions will be working on board all types of vessels in all trades. Indeed, the mariner who shuns a visit to the doctor may not know of a potentially serious medical condition.

CONCLUSION

We wish to recall that the driving force behind this NVIC is the ANDREW BARBERI allision and the findings and recommendations of the NTSB. We are fully aware of the political implications of that accident and the pressure on the USCG to take action. We, as a part of the maritime industry, feel similar pressures to make improvements and so elevate the public’s perception of our industry.

Nonetheless, that accident was the direct result of a procedural failure to have at least two qualified officers in the wheelhouse participating in the navigation of the vessel during a critical maneuver. This, we strongly believe, is in violation of good seamanship and the principals of bridge resource management which dictate that bridge watch teams should be supplemented with the appropriate personnel during critical operations. In addition, the examining physician falsified the Assistant Captain’s medical report against all legal and ethical practice.

It seems the key to preventing these types of accidents lies in addressing what causes them. Therefore, we feel the USCG should, in consultation with stakeholders in the industry:

  • Review its policies regarding manning levels for high risk operations.
  • Strictly enforce hours of work regulations and interpret them on the side of providing adequate rest for crews.
  • Make thoroughly clear to examining physicians that they are breaking the law when they falsify documents.

    The solution is not medical policy that mandates a single superman at the helm who is, presumably, physically and mentally perfect. Indeed, even the most rigorous physical examination is no guarantee that an individual will not suffer a physical impairment at the wrong moment. Instead, there should always be an appropriately certificated and trained rating or officer in the wheelhouse or engine room to support the conning and maneuvering officers. Any incapacity should then be detected in time to sound an alarm or take appropriate action to avoid an accident.

    We agree that the existing system for medical evaluations was flawed in certain respects. However, we strongly maintain that the new system envisioned in the NVIC recognize the privacy rights of individuals and, in the interest of fairness, give greater discretion to examining physicians to make case-by-case determinations. In our view, this is the way to avoid the unintended consequences we discussed earlier in these comments.
    Moreover, we feel the USCG should become aware that its many demanding regulatory requirements make the management of the pool of mariners, an important national asset, difficult. The USCG should adopt policies that will allow those mariners who are able to manage their medical conditions and operate safely to continue in the profession. We feel that it is better to impose restrictions on a license or MMD or require closer medical supervision than it is to drive experienced men and women from service.

    We look forward to our continuing involvement in the review process and the successful implementation of these guidelines to achieve these goals.

    Sincerely,
    Capt. Tim Brown,
    President, IOMMP, ILA, AFL-CIO




     

    ATTACHMENT 1
    Specific Comments on Medical Condition and Evaluation Data

    Our examination of several of the Medical Conditions and Evaluation Data listed in Enclosure (3) lead us to believe that examining health care professionals should have more discretion as to the extent of consultation and testing. In other words, many of the Evaluation Data may not be completely necessary and the degree of testing is often anticipatory of findings from some of the basic and more initial testing.

    A discussion of some the specific Medical Conditions listed in Enclosure (3) follows:

    — Condition 3: “History of tumor within the last 5 years” – add “where there is loss of structures vital for speech, swallowing and equipment fit.” Waiver should only be required where the above applies. Absent this, there should be no interest by the USCG. Additionally, “Radiation Therapy will significantly impair chances of waiver” signifies a belief that the tumor is of the more pernicious kind. Current practice and outcome data has frequently added radiation to the treatment plan. Perhaps, “Radiation Therapy will require a more careful examination of records and a more consultative process for a waiver” would better serve.

    — Condition 10: “History of episodic disorders of dizziness or disequilibrium” – add “within the last five (5) years.” Otherwise, it is covered under Item # 5.

    — Condition 16: “Refractive Surgery within the past 6 months.” Evaluation Data should simply require a statement from the health care professional that they have been examined 6 months post surgery and is free of “adverse effects or complications.” Allow the health care provider to decide what testing is required to sign such a certificate.

    — Condition 23: “Glaucoma (treated or untreated)” and includes “ocular hypertension or glaucoma suspect”. While glaucoma can affect visual acuity and night vision, its presence or suspect [along with ocular hypertension] is frequently no longer diagnosed solely via tonometer readings. Measurement of corneal thickness is thought to modify interpretation of these pressures. Some ophthalmologists feel the appearance of the optic nerve heads and nerve fiber layer, along with results of visual fields testing is more diagnostic than simply Goldman applanation tonometry. Finally, “ocular hypertension or glaucoma suspect” should be evaluated on the frequency specified by the ophthalmologist consulted.

    — Condition 29: “Disparity in size ….” It is unclear if this refers to physiologic anisocoria; of which an estimated 20% of the US population is thought to have and, is benign absent trauma, cranial nerve or parasympathetic problems. If it does not refer to physiologic anisocoria, it should so state.

    — Condition 30: “Nystagmus”-Place last sentence at beginning of Evaluation Data.

    — Condition 48a: “History of tumors of the breast within the last 5 years” – It is unclear how such history relates to “public safety risks associated with sudden incapacitation” and ability to “perform their duties not only on a routine basis but also in an emergency.” Suggest add to Evaluation Data, “when examining health care professional feels may impact ability to perform duties” an “Oncology consultation … if history of surgery”.

    — Condition 50: “Pneumothorax within past 3 months … recurrent pneumothorax” – Add “within three months” before “is considered disqualifying for medical … Otherwise, it negates the “within past 3 months” in Medical Condition

    — Conditions 53 & 54: “Left and Right Bundle Branch Block”s (BBB) – While both have a portion of people with 12 lead ECGs showing a BBB that are non-pathological and normal for them, they can indicate a more serious problem underlying; especially the Left BBB. The required Evaluation Data, especially for RBBB, is perhaps overly cautious and aggressive. Absent data on US maritime crews that serious cardiac emergencies occur at a frequency greater than “rarely, these Evaluation Data should allow for more examining health care professional discretion.

    — Condition 56: “Premature Atrial Contractions” – absent significant risk factors, other cardiac dysrhythmias or symptoms, they are often frequently found as a result of excess caffeine intake and/or stress. The examining health care professional should be allowed to exercise judgment and decide if further testing is needed. The USCG is not the guardian of a mariner’s current or speculative future personal health and should limit data collection to areas that are predictive of job related problems mentioned above in #3 of General Comments.

    — Condition 63: “History of Supraventricular Tachycardia … ” – Suggest add, “Within past five years” SVT episodes that are not accompanied by other cardiac related symptoms and that have not occurred for five years should be allowed to be evaluated at the discretion of the examining health care professional.

    — Condition 64: “History of syncope, … last five years” – Suggest add, “when thought to be cardiac related.”

    — Condition 80: “Pericarditis,…myocarditis”-Suggest add, “within last five years.” The causes are varied and may not consistently indicate serious cardiac disease processes.

    — Condition 99: “History of … last five years” – Suggest subsume under #98 above. Focus should be upon functional impairment and not speculative health.

    Conditions 106-108: Focus should be upon applicant’s physical limitations and medications and should only be the focus if unable to perform routine and emergency duties.

    — Condition 115: “History of Gender Reassignment”-Suggest add, “within past 12 months”. This time frame should allow for judgment of response to hormonal adjustment and maintenance. To assume that a mariner automatically will have a psychological “condition” is prejudicial.

    — Conditions 126-129: Suggest add, “causing significant functional impairment.”

    — Condition 131: “History of Intervertebral … 5 years.” The requirement for being “asymptomatic” and “must be taking no [emphasis added] medication” is too encompassing. The focus is upon functional impairment and medications which will impair routine and emergency duties or cause sudden incapacitation.

    — Condition 135: “History of … last 10 years.” Suggest change to last five (5) years due to consistency with other conditions.

    — Condition 137: “History of Hodgkin’s … last 10 years”. It is unclear why the USCG is interested in Hodgkin’s Lymphoma for the past 10 years. The diagnosis itself brings with it a continuing connection with health care professionals but, beyond the acute treatment phase, does not generally impair routine and emergency duties or cause sudden incapacitation.

    — Conditions 143, 144 & 147: Suggest add within last five (5) years

    — Condition 150: “Allergic Encephalomyelitis” Only references found were to Experimental Allergic Encephalomyelitis; induced in lab animals to attempt modeling for study of MS.

    — Condition 153-161: Unclear as to why the degree of detail gained by neuro-psychological testing may be needed by the USCG to determine if a person, who most likely has been functioning as a mariner, can perform routine and emergency duties or be subject to sudden incapacitation.

    — Conditions 164-165: Suggest add, “within last 5 years”.

    — Conditions 163-167: Same comment on neuro-psychological testing as #153-161 above

    — Condition 170: “History of … multiple episodes”. While febrile seizures are most common prior to age 5 years, adults do have them but suggest USCG restrict data collection to episodes within the last five years.

    — Condition 173: “History of Head Trauma … following injury”. While significant head trauma can create a host of neurological and behavioral problems [including the potential for secondary concussion syndrome], focus should be on the past five years.

    — Condition 180: “Adjustment Disorders” Adjustment Disorders are such a broad Axis I category that vary from quite slight (loss of a job, other life event areas) to somewhat more serious. Some clinicians have even informally used the term “Worried Well” to describe many of them. This is an example of the USCG attempt to capture information related to psychotropic medication use [of legitimate concern for public safety] rather than potentially debilitating conditions. Suggest the Medical Condition be amended to read, “Adjustment Disorders being treated with medications”. Additionally, to restrict status reports to psychiatrists or clinical psychologists negates the thousands of people being treated by State licensed Clinical Social Workers, Marriage & Family Therapists, and Professional Counselors.

    — Condition 181: “Attention Deficit Disorder”. Suggest, as above, amending the Medical Condition to read, “Attention Deficit Disorder being treated with medication”. It should be noted that the majority of medications prescribed for ADD are not written by psychiatrists; rather, by primary care physicians and other licensed health care providers.

    — Condition 182: “Bipolar Disorder”. The Evaluation Data requested is appropriate. However, again, a large number of medications are being prescribed by primary care physicians.

    — Condition 183: “Bereavement Disorder”. There is no such Disorder diagnosis in either the DSM-IV-TR or ICD-9 for “Bereavement Disorder”. There is non-diagnostic “V62.82” code for Bereavement which is not subject to mental health treatment. Dysthymic Disorder [300.4) relates to minor depression or periods of decreased mood; which may or may not be treated with medication. If treated with medication, suggest the Medical Condition be amended to read, “Dysthymic Disorder being treated with medication.” Again, much of the prescribing for these types of problems are done by primary care physicians.

    — Condition 184: “Clinical Depression”. The correct term here is Major Depressive Disorder (296.xx) with its attendant descriptive explainers. The Evaluation Data is appropriate. However, again, much of the prescribing for “Clinical Depression” is being done by primary care physicians. Additionally, to restrict status reports to psychiatrists or clinical psychologists negates the thousands of people being treated by State licensed Clinical Social Workers, Marriage & Family Therapists, and Professional Counselors.

    — Condition 185: “Psychotic Disorder”. This series of diagnoses is (293.xx) associated with a specified medical condition or “Psychotic Disorder NOS (298.9). While the DSM-IV-TR does mention Psychotic Disorders as generally being brief, substance abuse or organically induced; it may be that this Medical Condition refers more to the Axis II disorders [it should be noted that Schizophrenia is an Axis I disorder]. Most of these are seen as personality disorders rather than of a psychotic type; however difficult to treat. Many of them respond to psychotropic medications but to say categorically they are “generally not waiverable (sic)” does not recognize the current state of the art in psychiatric medicine. They do, clearly, require a waiver process with wording similar to active tumors noted above.

    — Condition 186: Substance Dependence-Drugs. Delete “cure” and replace with “in remission”. Suggest requirement for demonstration of remission be, “satisfactory completion of an initial course of treatment [residential rehabilitation or intensive outpatient] as directed by SAP, EAP, or certified addiction counselor. Continuing abstinence from drugs and alcohol, outpatient treatment, self-help group progress as also directed and monitored by the SAP, EAP, or certified addiction counselor for a period of no less than twelve months.” Return to work will be required to be by recommendation of SAP, EAP, or certified addiction counselor and MRO.

    — Condition 187: Substance Dependence-Alcohol. Same as #186 above.

    — Condition 194: “Diabetes requiring Oral Medication” Suggest graded exercise test [GXT]is un-necessary if other data supports waiver.



    MM&P MAGAZINE NOW ONLINE

    The November-December issue of The Master, Mate & Pilot will arrive in your mailbox soon. In the meantime, look for it online on our Web site, . In this issue of The Master, Mate & Pilot:

  • Congressional midterm elections bring challenges, opportunities;
  • Washington State Ferries new contract for MM&P’s United Inland Group;
  • Lamont-Doherty to launch new research vessel;
  • MM&P International President Tim Brown named “Maritime Man of the Year”;
  • MM&P-crewed USNS SUMNER in rescue at sea;
  • Transportation Workers Identification Credential (TWIC) set to impose new burdens on maritime industry;
  • MM&P speaks out on Coast Guard’s plans to consolidate merchant mariner credentials and implement far-reaching new “medical and physical standards”;
  • National Labor Relations Board decisions in “Kentucky River” cases have serious implications for working families.

    To download a copy of The Master, Mate & Pilot, just go to , click on “MM&P Magazine” and then on “Download Current Issue.”



    MM&P OFFSHORE PORTS HOLIDAY PARTY SCHEDULE

    The following is the complete schedule of MM&P Offshore Port Holiday Parties:

    East Coast holiday party schedule is as follows:

  • Boston: December 7th 1200 to 1700 at the Knights of Columbus Hall, 75 West School St., Charlestown, MA.
  • New York/New Jersey, December 13th at 1230 hrs at the Union Hall 26 Journal Sq. Suite 1502 Jersey City, NJ
  • San Juan: December 14th after job call at Levi’s on Ponce De Leon Ave.
  • Norfolk: December 15th at noon at the Union Hall on 39th St. in Norfolk.

    Gulf Port Holiday Party schedule is as follows:

  • New Orleans: December 13th noon at the Hall
  • Houston: December 14th noon at the Hall
  • Jacksonville: December 15th noon at the Hall
  • Port Everglades/Miami: December 20th at 1100 at the Hall

    West Coast Holiday Party schedule is as follows:

  • San Francisco: Thursday Dec 14th at 1230 hrs in the SUP Library
  • Los Angeles/Long Beach: Friday Dec 15th at 1200 hrs in the LA/LB Hall
  • Seattle Tuesday Dec 19th at 1230 hrs in the Seattle Hall
  • Honolulu: Sunday, December 17th from 1000 to 1400 hrs at the Honolulu Seaman’s Home.

    Call any of the respective Halls for info or directions.


    MITAGS ACADEMIC NOTES

    CLASS OPENINGS: Between now and the end of February 2007, seats are available in the following courses:

    JUST ADDED: MED-PIC (Medical Person-In-Charge): 2/12/07

    AIS – Automatic Identification System: 12/15
    ARPA – Automatic Radar Plotting Aids: 12/5, 1/16, 2/6
    AZIPOD-KAM-2 – Two-Day Azipod and Kamewa Steering and Propulsion Systems: 12/4

    BRM Bridge Resource Management: 1/22, 2/19
    BRMP – Bridge Resource Mangement for Pilots: 12/7, 1/31
    BST – Basic Safety Training: 2/5

    [CMM – Chief Mate and Master Courses]
    CMM-ADVWX – Advanced Meteorology: 1/22
    CMM-ADVSTB – 1/29
    CMM-CHS I – Advanced Cargo Handling (week 1): 2/12
    CMM-CHS II – Advanced Cargo Handling (week 2): 2/5
    CMM-ECDIS – Electronic Chart and Display Information System: 12/4
    CMM-MPP – Marine Propulsion Plants: 12/4, 2/19
    CMM-SHMGT-I – Ship Management II (week 1): 12/11, 2/26
    CMM-SHMGT-II – Ship Management II (week 2): 12/4
    Available on a “Stand-By Basis Only”: CMM-SHS-ADV-I – Advanced Shiphandling (week 1): 12/11,1/8, 2/5
    Available on a “Stand-By Basis Only”: CMM-SHS-ADV-II – Advanced Shiphandling (week 2): 1/15, 2/12
    CMM-VPEN – Voyage Planning and Electronic Navigation: 1/15

    CONT-PLNG – Contingency Planning: 12/15, 1/26

    CSE-AASE – Confined Space Entry: 1/15

    FF-BADV – Combined Basic and Advanced Fire Fighting: 2/5

    HAZ-Hazardous Materials (5-day): 12/4, 1/8, 2/12

    LEG Legal Aspects of Pilotage: 12/7, 1/31

    MEDIA-RSP – Media Response: 1/25

    MED-DOT-DA – Dept. of Trans Drug & Alcohol Testing: 12/9, 1/13, 2/17
    MED-PIC – Medical Person In Charge: 12/4, 1/8, 1/12, 2/26
    MED-PRO – Medical Care Provider: 12/4, 1/8, 2/12, 2/26

    [MSC – Military Sealift Command]
    MSC-CBRD-1 (Chemical Biological Radiological Defense Orientation): 1/20
    MSC-DC (Damage Control): 1/18
    MSC-SMA-R – Small Arms Re-Qualification (2-day): 12/8 (must have proof of passing all 3 weapons within 2 years)

    ROP-5 – Radar Observer Original and Renewal (5-day): 1/29
    ROR-1 – Radar Observer Renewal: 1/15, 2/5

    SEC-OFF-VCF – Security Officer, Vessel, Company & Facility: 12/11, 1/22
    SHS-BAS – Basic Shiphandling: 1/22, 2/19
    SHS-EMR- Emergency Shiphandling: 1/29, 2/26
    SHS-EMR- BRMP-3- Emergency Shiphandling & Bridge Resource Management for Pilots: 12/4
    TPIC-DL – Tanker Person-In-Charge, Dangerous Liquids: 2/12


    Check the MITAGS website at www.mitags.org for course descriptions associated with the course title abbreviations, and schedule revisions. For class availability or info on MITAGS courses and programs, contact admissions toll-free at 866-656-5568 or Email: admissions@mitags.org.


    PMI ACADEMIC NOTES

    Fall and Winter: 2006-2007

    MATE 500/1600 TONS Program Begins January 2007
    Due to the high demand for this program, PMI has now scheduled another that is already close to full enrollment for its 2007-start date. See the PMI Web site at www.mates.org for more info on this new development.

    SCHEDULE OF COURSES – (Course schedule also posted online at www.mates.org)

    December 2007
    12/4-8 ARPA
    12/4-15 Shiphandling – Advanced
    12/11-13 Security Officer – Vessel, Company, and Facility
    12/11-22 GMDSS
    12/18-22 ECDIS
    12/18-22 ARPA
    12/18-22 Medical First Aid Provider
    12/19 Radar Recertification

    January 2007
    1/2 Mate Program Begins/Orientation
    1/8-1/26 Ratings Forming Part of a Navigational Watch
    1/22-1/26 Terrestrial and Coastal Navigation
    1/22-1/26 Tankerman Person in Charge
    1/22-1/26 Emergency Shiphandling
    1/29-2/2 Medical First Aid Provider
    1/29-2/2 Radar Observer Unlimited
    1/29-2/9 Medical Person in Charge
    1/29-2/9 GMDSS

    For registration call Jennifer Fowler 888-893-7829

    PMI MERCHANDISE FOR SALE!!!

    High quality with embroidered PMI logo.
    Navy or Khaki Hats : $16 / includes tax
    ———————————-
    Button Down Long Sleeve Dress Shirts
    Blue or Khaki: $38 / includes tax
    ———————————-
    Pocket t-shirts with Logo: $12 / includes tax
    ————————————
    15oz. Cobalt Blue Ceramic Mug: $8 / includes tax

    Call DeeDee Lazik 206-838-8328 or e-mail dlazik@mates.org.


    MM&P MARKET WATCH AS OF 11-29

     

     D O W  N A S D A Q  S & P 500
    12,226.73 -94.86 for the week 2,432.23 -35.07 for the week 1,398.67 -4.24 for the week
    Fund Name & Trading Symbol
    Closing
    Price
     Vanguard 500 Index Fund (VFINX)
    129.33
     Vanguard Extended Market Index Fund (VEXMX)
    38.99
     Vanguard International Growth Fund (VWIGX)
    25.52
     Vanguard Morgan Growth Fund (VMRGX)
    19.55
     Vanguard Windsor II Fund (VWNFX)
    35.54
     Vanguard GNMA Fund (VFIIX)
    10.25
     Vanguard High Yield Corporate Fund (VWEHX)
    6.19
     Vanguard Total Bond Index (VBMFX)
    10.05
     Chase Growth Fund (CHASX)
    19.86
     Fidelity Asset Manager (FASMX)
    17.03
     Fidelity Growth and Income (FGRIX)
    31.29
     Fidelity Magellan Fund (FMAGX)
    92.52
     Fidelity Small Company Instl (FMACX)
    23.50
     Fidelity Value Fund (FDVLX)
    86.14
     Spartan US Equity Index Fund (FUSEX)
    49.69
     Domini Social Equity Fund (DSEFX)
    33.07

    .






    ~ Reminders ~





     

    T-AGS OCEANOGRAPHIC SURVEY SHIPS MANNING REQUIREMENTS

    REQUIRED COURSEWORK

    All MM&P members are reminded that to sail aboard the T-AGS ships that MM&P-contracted Horizon Lines will be operating, you must have the required training certification and your certificates must be current in accordance with Military Sealift Command requirements. Members are also required to have had a MSC pre-employment physical and to possess Ship Security Clearance (see below).

    The MSC Contract calls for all training certificates required for manning of these vessels to be no older than 5 years and that all STCW-95 courses be renewed every 5 years, or annually, as applicable.

    Five-year renewable courses include, but are not limited to:

    • Advanced Fire Fighting
    • Basic Safety Training, and
    • Damage Control

    Small Arms certificates must be less than 1 year old and MUST NOT expire during your tour of duty.

    Members interested in applying for one of the positions onboard the T-AGS vessels are advised to make sure your certificates are up to date. If not, contact Mary Matlock or Diane Ford at MITAGS Admissions, email: admissions@mitags.org, and schedule to take the course(s) needed.

    Those MM&P members interested in obtaining more information and facts about the T-AGS Oceanographic Vessels are asked to email the Director of Special Projects requesting the “facts sheet”. It will be provided by return email in an Adobe Acrobat PDF format.

    Members interested in employment on the T-AGS ships are asked to provide a 1-2 page resume. Please list the desired position you are seeking along with the certificates of training you possess and their dates. Upon receipt it will be forwarded to Horizon Lines and a confirmation sent back to the member. Vessel turnover commenced Oct.17, 2004. Positions for all ratings remain open.

    The point of contact for sending a resume for employment on the Horizon Lines T-AGS Oceanographic Vessels is Richard Plant, MM&P’s Director of Special Projects. Send resumes in an email or as a Word file attachment to him at: rplant@bridgedeck.org, by fax to 410-850-0973 or by mail to:

    Richard Plant, Director of Special Projects

    IOMM&P
    700 Maritime Blvd.
    Linthicum Heights, MD 21090



    SHIP SECURITY CLEARANCE NEEDED

    Members who want to sail for Horizon Lines on the T-AGS Oceanographic Survey vessels the company is set to begin operating for MSC must have Ship Security Clearance before going aboard.

    Special software must be downloaded from the US Government’s Defense Security Service to complete the Security Clearance application. You must have an Internet connection and a Windows-based computer to retrieve the application and run the program.

    Go to https://sclient.dss.mil/download/w9xfull.htm to download the software titled “EPSQ SUBJECT2_2”.

    After the software is installed and the program is launched, select “Create” from the menu bar at the top of the screen. You will be required to enter your Social Security Number and a case-sensitive password. A window titled “Type of Form” will appear.

    All Deck Officers should select the first button titled “Request for Security Clearance (SF86)” and then click “OK” to go to the next screen, “Type of Investigation”.

    From the “Type of Investigation” screen:

    • Masters and Radio Officers should select the first button, “Single Scope Background Investigation (SSBI)”.
    • All other Deck Officers (C/M, 2/M, 3/M) should click on the second button, “National Agency Check (NAC or NACLC)”.

    After selecting the appropriate investigation type, click on “OK” to begin filling in the forms.

    .



    MSC PHYSICALS

    Horizon Lines requests all mariners seeking employment aboard the T-AGS Oceanographic vessels to take their MSC Physical at specially-designated facilities only after being advised to do so by the Company. This is to assure that all requirements of the MSC Physical are properly met.

    .


    MM&P FCU NEWS

    GET NEW WHEELS OR LOWER EXISTING PAYMENTS WITH MM&P FCU VEHICLE FINANCING

    Is it time to replace that car you’re driving? Vehicle loan rates are looking great at MM&P FCU.

    Drive away in a new or used vehicle for a standard loan rate of:

    4.75 percent for terms up to 24 months.
    Standard loan rates for longer-term loans are:

    5.00 percent for 25-48 months;
    5.75 percent for 49-60 months ($20,000 minimum); and
    6.25 percent for terms extending from 61-72 months ($25,000 minimum).
    You can lower your loan rate even more — by 0.75 percent — by becoming a Preferred Borrower.

    Are you paying a higher rate on your current vehicle loan at another institution? Consider refinancing your outside loan at the MM&P FCU and taking advantage of our lower loan rates.

    MM&P FCU will finance up to 100 percent of your new vehicle loan, and up to 90 percent of NADA Book Value on a used vehicle. Maximum vehicle loan amount is $30,000.

    PREFERRED BORROWERS GET LOWER LOAN RATES
    MM&P FCU members can reduce the interest rate they pay on any new loan even further by becoming a preferred borrower. What is a preferred borrower? That’s a member who deposits at least 10 percent of the original loan amount into their MM&P FCU savings account and keeps those funds on deposit until the loan is paid in full. By doing this you save twice – first, your deposit works for you by earning our regular dividend savings rate, and second, you save money by reducing the interest rate on your loan by 0.75 percent.

    Contact the MM&P FCU for full details on all loan programs by email to mmpfcu@bridgedeck.org or call 1-800-382-7777 toll-free.

    .



     

    MM&P HEALTH & BENEFIT PLAN NEWS

    NOTICE TO MEMBERS WHO ARE TAKING VIOXX

    On Sept.30, Merck & Co. voluntarily withdrew Vioxx, a popular anti-inflammatory medication, from the market. As a result, individuals who are currently taking the drug have been asked to contact their health care professionals to discuss discontinuing use of Vioxx and possible alternative treatments.

    MM&P Plans Administrator Valerie Verrecchio reports that, “We have gotten a number of calls from members who want to know what to do with their remaining supply of Vioxx and whether the Plan or NMHC will refund their co-pay for the unused portion.

    “Unfortunately, neither NMHC nor the Plan was aware of the Merck decision prior to the public announcement on Sept.30. As of that date, all deliveries of Vioxx to our members was suspended in accordance with Merck’s announcement. Orders that had already been processed and were in transit could not be stopped.

    “In regard to refunds, Merck has set up a website at www.vioxx.com where members can obtain information on how to recover refunds from Merck for the unused portion of medication. Members can also call following toll free number for information: 1-888-368-4699.

    “We are sorry for any inc onvenience this may have caused to members currently taking this medication, however, the matter is out of the control of the Plans.”



    NMHC MAIL-ORDER PRESCRIPTIONS WEBSITE UPDATED & IMPROVED

    MM&P Plans Administrator Valerie Verrecchio reports, “Good news! NMHC mail has finally gotten their website upgraded and functioning properly. I went in and tested it myself and found it to be quite user friendly.”

    To use NMHC’s upgraded service, go to the NMHC Mail website at www.nmhcmail.com and click on “MEMBER LOGIN” at the bottom of the screen.

    First-time and Registered users may bypass the welcome screen and go directly to the log-in page at https://members.nmhcrx.com/Login/Login.aspx.

    • First-time users should then click on the link marked “NEW USER: REGISTER HERE”.
      This will take you to a page titled “MEMBER REGISTRATION” where you will need to enter demographic information and submit it by clicking on the
    • “CREATE ACCOUNT” button.

    After creating your account, NMHC will email you a password to gain entry into your records. With your first sign-in, the NMHC system will prompt you to change the NMHC password to one of your own choosing.

    Once you are registered at NMHC, you can check the status of open orders by logging-in to the system through the “MEMBER LOGIN” page and going into the “MAIL ORDER” menu. You can look up all prescriptions and get the price our members will pay for any medication. You can also view an order history of all of your medication transactions (both retail and mail) for the last 24 months, locate 24-hour pharmacies in your zip code region as well as access other helpful member education information.

    “We hope this welcome improvement will assist our members. Although you cannot order refills on line if you don’t provide a credit or debit card number, you can phone in your refill. Once you register on the website, you will still have access to all of the other information including checking the status of your order once it is phoned in,” said Ms. Verrecchio.



    WWII USCG VETERANS OUTREACH

    The U.S. Coast Guard has announced an initiative to identify and collect the oral histories of its World War II veterans. Coast Guard WWII veterans, including SPARS and merchant mariners, are encouraged to record their histories online with the Library of Congress Veterans History Project at www.loc.gov/folklife/vets.

    Those veterans needing assistance in recording their stories can receive help from their local Coast Guard Auxiliary public affairs contact by leaving a message at 1-877-875-6296, a toll-free call.




     

    COMPANY GIVES BUCKS BACK FOR BUYING SAFE SHOES

    LMS Ship Management, the company that manages vessels for Central Gulf, Sulphur Carriers and Waterman Steamship, wants to remind MM&P members that they offer their crewmembers a $75 reimbursement on the cost of purchasing certain slip-resistant shoes and boots for use aboard ship.

    This offer has been in place for some time and LMS reports that “we have been pleased with the participation to date, but feel a reminder may be in order.” Their goal is for every crewmember to wear slip resistant footwear during working hours aboard their vessels.

    The $75 reimbursement is available to each crewmember who provides LMS with an original receipt for the purchase of slip resistant footwear. In order for the crewmember to obtain the reimbursement, they must wear the shoes while on duty. Upon presentation of the receipt, the crewmember will be reimbursed on their pay voucher. The receipt will be retained by the Master and will remain aboard the vessel.
     
     

    Vessels in the LMS footwear reimbursement program are:

    • Green Cove
    • Green Dale
    • Green Lake
    • Green Point
    • Atlantic Forest
    • Sulphur Enterprise
    • Energy Enterprise
    • SGT Matej C. Kocak
    • MAJ Stephen W. Pless, and
    • PFC Eugene A. Obregon

    LMS notes that in order to receive reimbursement, crewmembers must purchase one of the following recommended brands:

    • WORX by Red Wing Slip Resistant Footwear
    • Caterpillar (must have steel toe & slip resistant sole)
    • Wolverine (must have steel toe and slip resistant sole)
    • Dunham Sierra Work Boot EH
    • Steel Toe Voyager
    • Georgia Boot 6- or 8-inch Safety Toe Boot
    • Dr. Marten’s (must have steel toe & slip resistant sole)

    LOOK FOR THE UNION LABEL:

    Of the boots listed above, Red Wing, Caterpillar and Wolverine boots are produced by US union labor.

    Redwing’s Union-made products are: Red Wing shoes and boots, Red Wing motorcycle boots and Craftsman (Sears).

    Wolverine World Wide manufactures boots under the Caterpillar brand using US union labor. (Other union made safety-shoe brands by Wolverine are the company’s Hy-Test, Durashock and Bates Military labels. The company’s Wolverine brand combat boots are also produced using US union labor.)

    Most Dr. Marten’s shoes and boots are produced in the UK.

    To find US, union-made products, visit the AFL-CIO Union Label Service and Trades website at www.unionlabel.org and click on “Union Made Product Search”. To shop for union-made products online, go to www.ShopUnionMade.org.




     

    WEBSITE OFFERS UNION-MADE GOODS AND SERVICES

    The Union Label recently went digital with a new website offering shoppers an array of union-made gifts, from clothing and chocolates to computers, games and greeting cards.

    The website, www.shopunionmade.org, launches on the eve of the fall and winter holidays, when shoppers will spend an estimated $1 trillion on gifts, food, drinks and other seasonal items, explained Matt Bates, Secretary-Treasurer of the AFL-CIO Union Label & Service Trades Department. The all-union shopping site, however, will be a year-round operation because that is what consumers demand, he added.

    “Shoppers spent $56 billion in Internet sales last year, and on-line spending is doubling every two to three years. Everyday we receive Email and calls from people who want to support good jobs by buying union-made goods and services. The website will reach millions of people, 24 hours a day, with a quick convenient way to shop union,” Bates said.

    “The public is ready for this. People have seen millions of good jobs disappear and they are looking for ways to take a stand and make a difference,” he added.

    The AFL-CIO will target the peak of the holiday shopping season by promoting “Buy Union Week” Nov. 26 through Dec. 5. The newly-launched, all-union shopping site will be a cornerstone of that campaign. MM&P has a link to the Shop Union Site on this website under “Links and Other Sources”.



    The MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly is the official electronic newsletter of the International Organization of Masters, Mates, and Pilots, ILA, AFL-CIO, 700 Maritime Blvd., Linthicum Heights, MD 21090-1941. Phone: 410-850-8700; Fax: 410-850-0973; Email: iommp@bridgedeck.org. For further info or to subscribe contact John Peige at jpeige@bridgedeck.org. The Wheelhouse Weekly is sent via Email to MM&P-contracted vessels at sea and is posted on our web page.

    C 2006, International Organization of Masters, Mates & Pilots. All the material contained in this publication is protected by copyright. For permission to reprint text from the Weekly, contact the MM&P Communications Department: lrosenthal@bridgedeck.org. For changes of address, contact John Peige at jpeige@bridgedeck.org.

    .