Wheelhouse Weekly – August 07, 2012

August 7th 2012


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

Volume 16 . . . Number 32. . . Aug. 7, 2012


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


In a case that has implications for all professional mariners employed on the inland waterways, MM&P members who work aboard the federal dredges YAQUINA and ESSAYONS have learned that their multi-year battle over unfair taxation is finally at an end. The controversy centered on an attempt by the Oregon Department of Revenue to assess back taxes, interest and penalties on federal waterway workers who reside in and pay income taxes to other states.

The story began back in 1990, when Congress passed the Amtrak Reauthorization and Improvement Act, which exempts non-resident transportation workers from double taxation. Although that law did not include mariners, Congress passed additional legislation–the Transportation Employee Fair Taxation Act of 1999–that specifically exempts non-resident “waterway workers” from double taxation. Congress made another change to the law in 2010 to further clarify its intent to shield non-resident mariners from double taxation.

But Oregon tax authorities began contacting federal dredge employees last year with a request for back taxes, interest and penalties. The state contended that Congress had intended to give a narrow tax exemption only to mariners working on the Columbia and Snake rivers, but not on other Oregon waterways and not when their vessels were tied up.

MM&P member Captain Mark Keen of the Army Corps dredge YAQUINA decided to take on the Oregon state tax authorities. He established a legal trust fund to cover expenses and, along with other affected shipmates, hired attorneys Marc Sellers and Dan Eller of the Pacific Northwest-based law firm Schwabe, Williamson and Wyatt to defend the case.

In July, the Oregon Department of Revenue notified Keen that it was dropping the assessment of back taxes based on its finding that the intent of Congress had been to exempt non-resident waterway workers who perform regular assigned duties on the waters of two or more states. The state has also said it will not attempt to tax income earned by qualified waterway workers prior to 2010.

“MM&P believes it was the intent of Congress to pass a broad exemption that would put mariners who work in multiple states on the same footing as other transportation workers,” said the MM&P International Secretary-Treasurer. “On that basis, the union pledged its support to the mariners involved in this case.”

MM&P supported the fight through advocacy work carried out by MIRAID in Washington, D.C., and through a monetary contribution to the legal trust fund established by the employees. The union congratulates MM&P member Mark Keen and his shipmates, who joined forces to make things right for all mariners who work on the waterways of Oregon.


Responding to the unwarranted cut in the U.S.-flag cargo preference program, MM&P, MEBA and other participants in the maritime industry grassroots campaign have stepped up their efforts to bring home the importance of the U.S.-flag fleet to members of Congress in both political parties.

Most recently, on July 31, participants in the campaign met with Maryland Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger, whose district includes part of Baltimore. After the meeting, Ruppersberger agreed to cosponsor HR 6170, legislation that would restore the cuts to the U.S.-flag cargo preference shipping requirements contained in the recently enacted surface transportation bill.

The meetings being held in Congressional districts throughout the country have taken on an even greater significance since the cuts in the cargo preference program were enacted.  The goal is to emphasize the importance of the maritime industry to each district and to give each member of Congress the specific information he or she needs to fight to protect American jobs and American-flag vessel operations.

During the month of August, there will be extremely important maritime advisory committee meetings in more than 20 Congressional districts: meetings will take place in California, Washington, Louisiana, Maryland, Virginia, Ohio, North Carolina, South Carolina, New York and New Jersey, to name a few. If you are interested in participating in educational meetings with your representative and Congressional staffers, please send your name and nine digit zip code to MM&P headquarters:


As reported in the last issue of The Wheelhouse Weekly, Congressmen Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) and Jeff Landry (R-La.) have introduced a bill that would restore the cuts in the U.S.-flag cargo preference program. Support for HR 6170 continues to grow. Significantly, 15 of the 35 members of Congress who have already cosponsored the legislation are also part of the maritime industry grassroots campaign.

The 35 cosponsors include 12 Republicans and 23 Democrats. The Republicans are: Reps. Howard Coble (N.C.), Jimmy Duncan (Tenn.), Renee Ellmers (N.C.), Chris Gibson (N.Y.), Michael Grimm (N.Y.), Jamie Herrera-Beutler (Wash.), Steve LaTourette (Ohio), Frank LoBiondo (N.J.), Candice Miller (Mich.), Scott Rigell (Va.), Rob Wittman (Va.) and Don Young (Alaska). The Democrats are:  Reps. Tim Bishop (N.Y.), Corrine Brown (Fla.), Gerry Connolly (Va.), Peter DeFazio (Ore.), Gene Green (Texas), Janice Hahn (Calif.), Colleen Hanabusa (Hawaii), Brian Higgins (N.Y.), Mazie Hirono (Hawaii), Larry Kissell (N.C.), Rick Larsen (Wash.), Sander Levin (Mich.), Mike McIntyre (N.C.), Jerry McNerney (Calif.), Mike Michaud (Maine), Ed Pastor (Ariz.), Chellie Pingree (Maine), Nick Rahall (W.Va.), Cedric Richmond (La.), Steve Rothman (N.J.), Dutch Ruppersberger (Md.), Betty Sutton (Ohio) and Bennie Thompson (Miss.).


The salaries of federal employees are on average 24 percent lower than those paid for comparable jobs in the private sector and health care benefits are less generous, according to statistics published by the AFL-CIO Executive Council. But federal workers continue to be the target of attacks aimed at further reducing their pay and benefits.

“All efforts to privatize, outsource, reduce, undermine, politicize, underpay or undervalue the work performed on behalf of working families by our federal workforce should be vigorously opposed,” the members of the AFL-CIO Executive Council said last week in an official statement.

A total of 2.6 million civilian employees in the federal government do everything from making sure veterans receive their benefits, to processing Social Security payments, Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements, delivering mail and crewing ships in the government fleet. During their August meeting last week, the members of the council adopted a new policy statement, “Federal Employees Have Already Given Enough,” intended to serve as a foundation for the ongoing attempt to defend federal workers from unfair partisan attacks


The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) announced that it has reached agreement with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) on the first-ever labor contract at the agency.

“This collective bargaining agreement will better the lives of 45,000 hard-working, dedicated employees, and that’s a fantastic feeling,” AFGE TSA Council 100 President Kim Kraynak-Lambert said in announcing the new contract. “Transportation security officers come to work every day in the face of intense public and Congressional scrutiny and, to the best of their ability, protect this nation from terrorist attacks. Now we can look forward to new rights and new working conditions, and a chance to form a true labor-management partnership.”

The agreement must now be ratified by the TSA workforce, a process that will take place in coming months. “For 10 long years AFGE has fought hard so that Transportation Security Officers would have collective bargaining rights. We have often looked back and wondered why it was taking so long,” said AFGE National President John Gage. “Today we begin to look forward.”

MM&P headquarters staff assisted AFGE in the organizing drive last year, talking with TSA officers at airports in the Washington, D.C., and Baltimore area about the benefits of union membership.


Labor unions are calling for a global boycott of Hyatt Hotels, citing abuse of hotel workers, particularly housekeepers. The boycott, which has been organized by Unite Here, has won the endorsements of groups that include the NFL Players Association and the National Organization of Women. At a media event last month at the National Press Club, John Wilhelm, president of Unite Here, said Hyatt “has quite purposefully chosen to position itself as the major hotel company that is driving conditions for all of its employees, but especially its housekeepers, to the low road.”

He said Hyatt forces housekeepers at non-union hotels to clean twice as many rooms as housekeepers clean in union hotels. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said housekeepers are “the unsung heroes” behind conventions and day-to-day business in the United States. “We are going to make sure that Hyatt does the right thing by these workers,” Trumka said. DeMaurice Smith, executive director of the NFL Players Association, told housekeepers that they will have “2,000 big brothers” — pro football players — on their side in the fight.


There are job opportunities in the MM&P United Inland Group (UIG) on the West Coast for UIG and Offshore Group members who have ATB and tanker experience. Please contact your local MM&P UIG or Offshore hall for more details.


A Philippine military spokesman said last week that 12 men who were put off their barge and tugboat by Indonesian pirates were suffering from dehydration and minor injuries but were otherwise unharmed. The pirate gang left the men floating on a raft after seizing their barge and tugboat off Borneo Island. The vessel was on its way to Indonesia to pick up ore to deliver to Davao City in the Philippines when it was seized. The 12 men were rescued by guards who were manning an outpost overlooking the sea and saw them floating in the distance.


The Norfolk Tides will honor merchant mariners and support staff on Wednesday, Aug. 15, at 7:15 p.m., when they host the Gwinnett Braves. Military Sealift Command has arranged with the team to provide those interested the opportunity to purchase tickets in an area that will be reserved for mariners, support staffs, their family and friends. Tickets cost $11. Contact Lieut. Frank Lemene at 757-443-2743 or by e-mail


There will be a meeting for MM&P members in the Los Angeles/Long Beach Hall on Aug. 8. All MM&P members in the area are encouraged to attend the meeting.


The Offshore Familiarization Course, formerly called the D-Book Membership Course, will be held at regular intervals throughout 2012.

The schedule is as follows (but please note that course dates may change depending on the number of participants who sign up): Sept. 7-8 at MM&P Headquarters; Oct. 9-10 in New Jersey; Oct. 17-18 in Los Angeles; Nov. 7-8 in Houston.

There is no sea-time requirement to take the course. All Offshore applicants, potential transferees from other membership groups and other interested Offshore members are urged to attend.

If you want to attend the course, please RSVP to the local hiring hall where the class is offered or, in the case of a course planned for headquarters, to MM&P Membership Secretary Mary Seidman:


A German submarine that was sunk during World War II in the waters off Nantucket has been found after years of research by a group of divers specialized in locating old shipwrecks. Over two exploratory voyages, the crew searched 100 square miles of ocean, using sonar to survey the ocean depths. Images released by the crew show the 250-foot submarine totally intact, sitting upright and tilted to the starboard side. The crew would not divulge the exact location of the wreck or the depths involved so that others would not disturb the site.

The U-boat was sunk after it torpedoed an American tanker, the SS PAN PENNSYLVANIA, which had fallen away from its convoy. The sub took cover beneath the sinking ship to avoid detection, but the flagship USS JOYCE was able to hit it with a depth charge attack that forced it to the surface. The Germans began firing their deck guns upon resurfacing. The USS JOYCE, the USS GANDY and the USS PETERSON returned fire. There were 44 casualties aboard the American ships.


Dismissing a lawsuit mounted by a group of environmentalists, India’s Supreme Court has ruled that the EXXON VALDEZ can be broken at the Alang Shipyard in the western India province of Gujarat. The New Delhi-based environmental group Toxics Watch Alliance had gone to court to block the ship’s owners from sending it to Alang, arguing that the tanker, which is now known as the MV ORIENTAL NICETY, is contaminated with asbestos, PCBs and other toxic materials.

As part of its ruling, the court said government approval would be required in the future for each shipbreaking operation, and that all vessels—including MV ORIENTAL NICETY–would have to be cleaned of contaminants in keeping with the tenets of the Basel Convention.

The EXXON VALDEZ is notorious because it ran aground in northern Prince William Sound in 1989, spilling 500,000 barrels of crude oil and contaminating nearly 2,000 kilometers of shoreline.


The MM&P Information Technology Department has added a new, real-time “stock ticker” to the online version of The Wheelhouse Weekly that is posted every week on The ticker shows the current price of every fund offered in the MM&P Fidelity 401(k) and Vanguard IRAP plans. To browse the mutual funds, just click the right or left arrow on the right side of the ticker. To find out more about a specific fund, just click on the fund symbol and you’ll be taken to a page with information including fund objectives and past performance


Try our on-line calendar to register for class:

For class availability or information on courses and programs, contact MITAGS Admissions Coordinator Kelly Michielli toll free at (866)-656-5568 or e-mail her at

Between now and the end of September, the following courses are scheduled at MITAGS.

AB – Able Bodied Seaman: 8/20, 10/15

AIS-1 – Automatic Identification Systems (one day): 10/10

ARPA – Automated Radar Plotting Aids: 9/25, 10/23, 12/3

AZIPOD (2-DAY) for Pilots: 10/11, 11/12

BRM – Bridge Resource Management: 8/27, 10/19

BRMP – Bridge Resource Management for Pilots:  8/23, 11/29

BST – Basic Safety Training: 8/13, 10/8

[CMM – Chief Mate and Master Courses]

CMM-ADVWX – Advanced Meteorology: 9/10, 11/12

CMM-ADVNAV – Advanced Navigation (=ECDIS & VPEN): 10/22

CMM-ADVSTB – Advanced Stability: 10/1, 12/17

CMM-CHS – Advanced Cargo Operations (2 weeks): 10/8

CMM-ECDIS – Electronic Chart Display Information Systems: 11/12

CMM-MPP – Marine Propulsion Plants: 8/20, 11/26

CMM-SHMGT – Ship Management (2 weeks): 9/17, 12/3

CMM-SHS-ADV-I – Advanced Shiphandling (week 1): 9/10, 9/4, 10/22, 11/5, 11/26, 12/10

CMM-SHS-ADV-I I – Advanced Shiphandling (week 2): 9/17, 10/1, 10/29, 11/12, 12/3, 12/17

CMM-WKP – Advanced Watchkeeping: 8/27, 11/5

CHS-BAS – Basic Cargo Handling & Stowage: 10/22

CNAV – Celestial Navigation: 11/5

CONSTAB – Ship Construction and Basic Stability: 12/15

CONT PLNG – Contingency Planning: 11/10

ECDIS-ENAV (2 DAY) for Pilots: 8/13, 10/11

ENVIRO-Regs Permit – Environmental Regulations Permit: 8/28, 11/8

EP – Emergency Procedures: 10/17

FF-BADV – Combined Basic and Advanced Fire Fighting: 8/13, 10/8

GMDSS – Global Maritime Distress Safety Signal: 8/20

HAZ – Hazardous Materials (5 day): 8/20, 11/26

LAP – License Advancement Program for Chief Mate & Master: 9/17

LEG – Legal Aspects of Pilotage: 8/16, 10/10, 11/29

MEDIA RSP – Media Response Workshop: 11/6

MED-PIC – Medical Person In Charge: 9/17, 10/15, 12/3

MED-PIC -R– Medical Person In Charge Refresher: 11/12

MED-PRO – Medical Care Provider: 9/17, 10/15, 10/29, 12/3

MED-DOT-DA – Dept. of Transportation Drug & Alcohol Testing: 9/22, 10/20, 12/8

MSC -SMA – Military Sealift Command Small Arms Qualification: 10/1, 11/12

MSC-DC – Military Sealift Command Damage Control (4 Evenings): 10/1

MSC-CBRD-1 – Military Sealift Command Chemical, Biological, Radiological Defense Orientation (Basic): 8/10, 10/5

RFPNW – Rating Forming Part of a Navigational Watch: 10/1

ROR-1 – Radar Observer Renewal Evening Classes: 8/15, 8/29, 9/14, 10/3, 10/17, 10/31, 11/14, 12/5, 12/12

ROR-1 – Radar Observer Renewal: 9/24, 10/11

ROP-5 – Radar Observer Original and Renewal: 10/7, 11/26

SAR – Search & Rescue: 10/15

SEC-VCF – Security Officer, Vessel, Company & Facility: 11/7

SHS-BAS – Basic Shiphandling: 8/13, 10/8, 11/16

SHS-ESH-BRMP3 – Emergency Shiphandling and Bridge Resource Management for Pilots: 8/15, 10/8

SHS-EMR5 – Emergency Shiphandling: 8/20, 10/15

WX-BAS – Basic Meteorology: 9/17

WKP-BAS – Watchkeeping Basic (2 weeks): 10/1

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

Check the MITAGS website at for course descriptions associated with the course title abbreviations, and schedule revisions.


Schedule of Courses – Please also see our schedule online at For registration, call our registrar, Jennifer Pitzen, at (206) 838-1126.

August 2012

13-17   Marine Pilot Exam Prep Course
20-24   Radar Observer Unlimited
20-24   Medical Care Provider
20-31   Medical Person-In-Charge
27th    Radar Renewal
27th    Flashing Light
28-31   ARPA

September 2012

4-7     Basic Cargo Handling and Stowage
5-6     Vessel Security Officer
10-14   Radar Observer Unlimited
10-14   Bridge Resource Management w/ Simulation
10-21   Celestial Navigation
17-21   Basic Construction and Stability
17-28   GMDSS
24-27   ARPA
24-28   Able Bodied Seaman
24-28   Medical Care Provider

MM&P MARKET WATCH AS OF 8-07-2012 at 1:00 p.m.

D O W N A S D A Q S & P 500
13,209.96 3,024.57 1,406.17

Mutual Funds (Live)

Click a mutual fund for more information.
Click the right or left arrow on the right side of the ticker to browse the mutual funds.

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: For further info or to subscribe contact Lisa Rosenthal at The Wheelhouse Weekly is sent via Email to MM&P-contracted vessels at sea and is posted on our web page.

© 2012, 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: For changes of address, contact Lisa Rosenthal at