News

Wheelhouse Weekly – March 15, 2010

March 15th 2010

 

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

Volume 14 . . . . . Number 11. . . .March 15, 2010

STORIES COVERED

REMINDERS

MM&P FCU News

MM&P Health & Benefit Plan News

Meet Our New Prescription Benefit Manager, PHARMACARE

Notice to MM&P Health & Benefit Plan Participants

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.


FIRST ANNUAL MARITIME INDUSTRY SAIL-IN ON MAY 13

Representatives of all sectors of the U.S.-flag shipping industry will converge on Washington, D.C., on May 13 for the first annual “Maritime Industry Sail-In” and Congressional reception. The sail-in will be an opportunity for us to explain to members of Congress and their staffs the importance of our industry to the economic and national security of the United States. MM&P, MIRAID and a number of other maritime labor organizations, U.S.-flag shipping companies and maritime associations are sponsoring and organizing the events. For more information, to register and to participate, please go to www.maritimeindustrysailin.com.


THE VANGUARD GROUP SAYS MANY RETIREMENT ACCOUNT BALANCES HAVE BOUNCED BACK

The Vanguard Group, which manages the funds offered in the MM&P IRAP Plan, says many participants in employer-sponsored retirement plans have seen their account balances bounce back from 2008 lows. “You watched your account balance plummet in the worst bear market since the Great Depression,” the company wrote in a recent letter to clients. “Now here’s a surprise: For many participants in employer-sponsored retirement plans at Vanguard, account balances have recovered.” The company says that, as of Sept. 30, 2009, six in ten participants had balances equal or superior to what they had on Sept. 30, 2007, just before stock markets reached their heights.

What accounts for the recovery? Certainly, the market comeback has played a central role. From its low on March 9, 2009, to the end of September, the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index charged back by 56 percent. It’s been up and down since, but remained near that level as of Feb. 8, 2010. Most important in balances’ recovery is that most investors continued to invest despite the economic uncertainty. That’s among the observations of a new research note, “Recovery in 401(k) Balances,” by Stephen P. Utkus and Jean A. Young of the Vanguard Center for Retirement Research. The researchers studied data from employer-sponsored retirement accounts held at Vanguard that had a balance at both the beginning and end of the period. The main reason for the recovery in account balances? Ongoing contributions. Throughout the bear market, most workers continued to save in their employer-sponsored plans.

“To be sure,” Vanguard says, “the bear market and subsequent recession have been a trying time for all investors. And while six in ten participants have seen their balances bounce back, four in ten have not. Among investors age 45 and older, just more than half have regained the lost ground.”

Why haven’t older investors fared as well as younger investors? Many had more in accumulated savings that were pulled down by the bear market. Despite the recovery from the March 9, 2009, low, the S&P 500 fell 31 percent in the two years covered by the research. As a result, many older investors have had to rethink their retirement strategy by planning to work longer, save more or spend less in retirement.

A skeptic might say that an account balance’s recovery to a September 2007 level equates to two years of contributions gone missing. But it’s important to remember where we’ve been, and where we could have ended up. In September 2008, as large financial institutions crumbled and lending ground to a halt, ordinary investors and government leaders worried that we might have been on the cusp of another depression. But it didn’t turn out that way.

In fact, for younger investors in particular, the deep bear market presented an opportunity to acquire shares at lower prices that have since benefited from the market’s sharp rise. Among plan participants younger than age 25, the median account balance on Sept. 30, 2009, was nearly four times as great as it was on Sept. 30, 2007. The median is the midpoint, so half of the group had greater account-balance gains and half had lesser gains or losses. Younger investors fared best in large part because their ongoing contributions are likely to represent a larger share of their account balances.

“Vanguard believes that broad diversification, with exposure to all parts of the stock and bond markets, reduces risk,” the company writes. “Of course, diversification does not ensure a profit or protect against a loss in a declining market. But it played a role in the recovery of plan participants’ account balances. Participants with the largest losses had a median allocation to stocks of more than 95 percent, according to the research note.

Participants with smaller losses or gains had lower exposure to stocks and/or smaller account balances, so ongoing contributions had a greater impact.

“What can you do to plan for the future? It’s important to have a sound retirement investing plan that you can stick with for the long term,” Vanguard advises. “Commit to saving in your employer-sponsored plan, even when the markets fall. You may end up purchasing shares at bargain prices. And find a mix of stocks and bonds that’s right for you.” You can get suggestions about such a mix by answering Vanguard’s quick investment questionnaire, available online at http://tiny.cc/Vanguard581.


INDIAN SEAFARERS UNION THREATENS BOYCOTT OF GULF OF ADEN

The National Union of Seafarers of India (NUSI) announced earlier this month that it will organize a boycott of mariners from “labor-supplying countries” if significant progress is not made quickly in the fight against piracy. A spokesman for the union said in an official release to the press that its members will soon begin refusing to sail to the Gulf of Aden and the Somalia coast.

“The union is spearheading and co-coordinating an international agitation with the support of unions from India, the Philippines, Indonesia, Bangladesh, the Ukraine, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and other labor-supplying countries,” said NUSI General Secretary Abdulgani Y. Serang in an official release to the press. “Discussions with the unions are already on. If the situation does not improve, NUSI is soon going to announce a date after which seafarers from labor-supplying countries are not going to sail to the Gulf of Aden off the Somalia coast.”


PIRATES SEIZE MORE SHIPS

In the meantime, attacks against merchant ships continue. Last week, a Marshall Island flagged chemical tanker, the UBT OCEAN, was hijacked 300 nautical miles from Dar El Salam. The Norwegian-owned vessel has a crew of 21, all from Myanmar/Burma. The ship was heading from the United Arab Emirates to Dar El Salam when contact was lost. It has now been sighted in the waters east of Harardhere, a town in the Mudug province of central Somalia that has become notorious as a base for piracy.

European Union forces reported last week that they had intercepted a pirate mother ship and two skiffs in the southern Indian Ocean, between the Seychelles and Mombasa. A French warship took 11 suspected pirates into custody and sunk their vessels. Overall, European Union forces report that they “disrupted” five pirate groups and took 40 pirates into custody during the weekend of March 6-7.


SWEDISH ICEBREAKERS FREE TENS OF ICE-BOUND VESSELS IN BALTIC SEA

Tens of vessels, including four passenger ferries, were freed from heavy Baltic Sea ice off the coast of Sweden earlier this month. Thousands of passengers on the ferries run by Viking Line, Anedin Lines and Tallink were offered free food and alcohol while awaiting rescue. Most of the passengers were Swedes traveling to the Finnish island of Aland to buy cheaper alcohol and make duty-free and bargain purchases on the ferries. The authorities said sharp northerly winds had dramatically raised the chill factor in what is already a very cold winter, even by Scandinavian standards.


PACIFIC COAST GENERAL MEMBERSHIP MEETINGS: SEATTLE ON MARCH 15; SAN FRANCISCO/OAKLAND ON MARCH 16; LA/LB ON MARCH 17

General membership meetings will be held in the MM&P Pacific ports halls: Seattle on Monday, March 15; San Francisco/Oakland on Tuesday, March 16; Los Angeles/Long Beach on Wednesday, March 17. All meetings will be held immediately after job call at noon. All members are encouraged to attend.


D-BOOK MEMBERSHIP CLASS IN LOS ANGELES MARCH 17-8

The D-Book Membership class will be held in the Los Angeles Hall on Wednesday and Thursday, March 17-8. The class will begin at 0900 on March 17. This is a two-day course that will end at approximately 1500 on March 18. For more information and to sign up, please contact the LA Dispatcher to assure that sufficient course materials are available: 310-834-7201.

All applicants should complete the D-Book Membership Class as soon as possible to avoid delays in becoming members. Applicants should take the course before completing 360 days of covered employment.


HAZARDOUS CARGO COURSE IN HAWAII MARCH 22-6

A special, offsite five-day MITAGS-NCB Hazardous Cargo Course has been scheduled for the week of March 22-6 in Honolulu. The location of the course has yet to be determined. To sign up, please contact Randy Swindell in the MM&P Honolulu Hall: 808-523-8183. Many thanks to Glen Paine and MITAGS for setting up this course!


INFORMATION ON MM&P OFFSHORE PENSION PLAN AVAILABLE ON WWW.BRIDGEDECK.ORG

Participants in the MM&P Offshore Pension Plan who are considering retirement should pay particular attention to the deadlines and to the information on future benefit schedules which has been available for the past month in the Members Only pages of www.bridgedeck.org. This information was also circulated as an insert to the January-February 2010 issue of The Master, Mate & Pilot. To read the insert, log on to the Members Only section of www.bridgedeck.org. Then click on the link at the top of the page to Offshore Pension Plan Information.

Visitors to the site can also view a letter that MM&P International President Timothy Brown wrote on March 2 to all active and retired pension plan participants. The letter provided additional information regarding the decisions that were made by the pension plan trustees during their meeting of Jan. 28, 2010. In April, MM&P Plans will provide all pension plan participants with more detailed information by mail. In the meantime, remember that you should contact MM&P Plans if you have questions about your specific situation: Toll-Free: 1-877-667-5522; Monday -Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.


MITAGS ACADEMIC NOTES

CLASS OPENINGS: Between now and the end of May 2010, as of the Friday before this publication, seats are available in the following courses:

ARPA – Automatic Radar Plotting Aids: 5/17

AZIPOD (2 day) – Azipod Propulsion System: 4/8

BST – Basic Safety Training: 4/12

BRM – Bridge Resource Management: 5/24

BRMP – Bridge Resource Management for Pilots: 4/19, 5/13

CHS BAS – Cargo Handling and Stowage (Operational Level): 4/5

CNAV � Celestial Navigation: 5/3

CONT PLNG � Contingency Planning Workshop: 5/13

[CMM – Chief Mate and Master Courses]

CMM-ADVSTB – Advanced Stability: 4/5

CMM-ADVWX – Advanced Meteorology: 5/17

CMM-CHS-I – Advanced Cargo Operations (week 1): 4/12

CMM-CHS-II – Advanced Cargo Operations (week 2): 4/19

CMM-SHMGT I � Ship Management (week 1): 5/3

CMM-SHMGT II � Ship Management (week 2): 5/10

CMM-SHS-ADV-I – Advanced Shiphandling (week 1): 3/29, 4/12, 5/24

CMM-SHS-ADV-I I – Advanced Shiphandling (week 2): 3/22, 4/5, 4/19

CMM-WKP – Advanced Watchkeeping: 4/26

CMM-VPEN � Voyage Planning and Electronic Navigation: 5/24

ECDIS/ENAV for PILOTS (2-day): 5/18

ENAV � Electronic Navigation: 3/15

EP – Emergency Procedures: 4/21

ENVRO-REGS PERMIT – Environmental Regulations In The Maritime Industry / Epa General Permit For Commercial Vessels: 3/31, 5/26

FF-BADV – Fire Fighting Basic & Advanced Combined: 4/12

FSM for Pilots � Fatigue, Sleep & Medications: 4/21, 5/13, 5/20

LEG – Legal Aspects of Pilotage: 4/19, 5/3, 5/13

LNG-GCC-Term – Liquefied Natural Gas for Terminal Operators: 4/26

MEDIA RSP � Media Response Workshop: 5/14

[MSC-Military Sealift Command Courses]

MSC CBRD-1 � CBRD Orientation: 4/2, 5/21

MSC-DC � Damage Control (Special Evening Course): 3/29 to 4/1, 5/17 to 5/20

MSC-SMA � Small Arms Training: (Standby Only 3/29), 5/17

MED-DOT-DA – Dept. of Trans Drug & Alcohol Testing: 3/20, 5/8

MED-PIC – Medical Person in Charge: 5/3

MED-PRO – Medical Care Provider: 4/26, 5/3

ROP-5 � Radar Observer Original or Renewal: 5/3

ROR-1 – Radar Observer Renewal: 5/17

SAR – Search & Rescue: 4/19

SEC-VCF – Security Officer: Vessel, Company & Facility: 5/10

SHS-EMR5 – Emergency Shiphandling: 3/22, 4/26

TPIC � Tankerman Person-in-Charge: 5/17

TTT – Train the Trainer: 4/12

WKP BAS � Basic Watchkeeping 3/22

…remember: If you can’t make the class, make the call.  Be courteous, don’t be a “no show.”


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 e-mail: admissions@mitags.org.


PMI ACADEMIC NOTES

Schedule of Courses – Please also see our schedule online at www.mates.org

For registration, call our registrar, Jennifer Pitzen, at (206) 838-1126

March 2010

22        Radar Renewal
22-26  Basic Meteorology
29-2    Tankerman Person-in-Charge
29-9    Celestial Navigation
30-1    BRM & Emergency Shiphandling for Pilots

April 2010

5-9      Tankerman Person-In-Charge
12-16   ECDIS
12-16   Medical Care Provider
12-16   Basic Stability
12-23  Medical Person-In-Charge
19-23  Basic Cargo Handling
26-30 Basic Shiphandling
26-7    GMDSS

May 2010

3          Radar Renewal
3-7      Medical Care Provider
10-14  Medical Care Provider
10-21  Basic Watchkeeping w/BRM
24-28 Medical Care Provider
24-28 ECDIS
26-28 Security VCF

June 2010

2-4      Security VCF
7-10    ARPA
7-11     Medical Care Provider
7-18    Medical Person-In-Charge
7-18    GMDSS
8-10    BRM & Emergency Shiphandling for Pilots
11         Radar Renewal
14-2    Terrestrial & Coastal Navigation w/ Compasses
21-25  Tankerman Person-in-Charge


MM&P MARKET WATCH AS OF 3-12-2010

D O W N A S D A Q S & P 500
10,624.69 2,367.66 1,149.99
Fund Name & Trading Symbol
 Closing
Price
 Vanguard Asset Allocation Fund (VAARX)
49.88
 Vanguard 500 Index Fund (VFINX)
106.31
 Vanguard Extended Market Index Fund (VEXMX)
35.35
 Vanguard International Growth Fund (VWIGX)
17.23
 Vanguard Morgan Growth Fund (VMRGX)
15.89
 Vanguard Windsor II Fund (VWNFX)
24.58
 Vanguard GNMA Fund (VFIIX)
10.81
 Vanguard Growth Index Fund (VIGRX)
28.29
 Vanguard High Yield Corporate (VWEHX)
5.54
 Vanguard LifeStrategy Conservative Growth (VSCGX)
15.52
 Vanguard LifeStrategy Growth Fund (VASGX)
20.21
 Vanguard LifeStrategy Income Fund (VASIX)
13.58
 Vanguard LifeStrategy Moderate Growth (VSMGX)
18.22
 Vanguard Target Retirement 2005 (VTOVX)
11.23
 Vanguard Target Retirement 2015 (VTXVX)
11.65
 Vanguard Target Retirement 2025 (VTTVX)
11.69
 Vanguard Target Retirement 2035 (VTTHX)
12.03
 Vanguard Target Retirement 2045 (VTIVX)
12.44
 Vanguard Total Bond Index (VBMFX)
10.46
 Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund (VTSMX)
28.66
 Chase Growth Fund (CHASX)
15.77
 Fidelity Asset Manager (FASMX)
14.24
 Fidelity Growth and Income (FGRIX)
16.79
 Fidelity Intermediate bond Fund (FTHRX)
10.31
 Fidelity Magellan Fund (FMAGX)
66.20
 Fidelity Value Fund (FDVLX)
61.23
 Fidelity Equity-Income II Fund (FEQTX)
16.98
 Fidelity Blue Chip Growth Fund (FBGRX)
39.65
 Fidelity Diversified International Fund (FDIVX)
27.90
 Fidelity Dividend Growth Fund (FDGFX)
24.87
 Fidelity Freedom Income (FFFAX)
10.92
 Fidelity Freedom 2000 (FFFBX)
11.56
 Fidelity Freedom 2010 (FFFCX)
12.79
 Fidelity Freedom 2020 (FFFDX)
12.86
 Fidelity Freedom 2030 (FFFEX)
12.73
 Fidelity Freedom 2040 (FFFFX)
7.36
 Fidelity Freedom 2050 (FFFHX)
8.58
 Fidelity Total Bond Fund (FTBFX)
10.64
 Spartan Extended market Index Fund (FSEMX)
33.14
 Spartan US Equity Index Fund (FUSEX)
40.84
 Domini Social Equity Fund (DSEFX)
27.07





~ Reminders ~



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:

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

6.75 percent for 25-48 months;
7.50 percent for 49-60 months ($20,000 minimum); and
8.00 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

MEET OUR NEW PRESCRIPTION BENEFIT MANAGER, PHARMACARE

As you know, effective July 1, 2007, MM&P will have a new Prescription Benefit Manager, PharmaCare. If you use the mail service and have not sent your Confidential Mail Service Enrollment Form to the MM&P Plan Office, you have until June 30 to do so. Otherwise, you can call PharmaCare’s customer service line and give them the information over the telephone or send the form with your first new mail prescription directly to PharmaCare. In the next couple of days, you will be receiving a letter with your new MM&P identification cards and a prescription booklet with information on how to obtain your prescriptions. PharmaCare’s customer service number is listed in the booklet. If you have any questions, please contact the MM&P Health & Benefit Plan Advisors.



NOTICE TO MM&P HEALTH & BENEFIT PLAN PARTICIPANTS

As you know, MM&P Health & Benefit Plan members have a new prescription benefit manager, PharmaCare. When you first obtain a prescription at your retail drug store, please show your new Health & Benefit Identification Card with PharmaCare’s information. If you do not show your card, please inform your pharmacist of the following information so you can receive your prescriptions through the Plan. Your identification number HAS NOT CHANGED. Please provide the pharmacist with your full member identification number. You will have to also provide the following numbers. RxGrp#- Z50136968, RxBin: 610468 and RxPCN: PC2 

If your pharmacist has any questions, he or she should call PharmaCare directly at (800) 503-3241.  If you have any questions, PharmaCare members can call the company directly at (888) 364-6815.


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. Suite B, Linthicum Heights, MD 21090-1953. Phone: 410-850-8700; Fax: 410-850-0973; Email: iommp@bridgedeck.org. For further info or to subscribe contact Lisa Rosenthal at lrosenthal@bridgedeck.org. The Wheelhouse Weekly is sent via Email to MM&P-contracted vessels at sea and is posted on our web page.

© 2010, 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 Lisa Rosenthal at lrosenthal@bridgedeck.org.