Wheelhouse Weekly – Feb. 24, 2015

February 25th 2015

Volume 19 . . . Number 8 . . . Feb. 24, 2015


In this issue:

News for MM&P Members:



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


The MM&P Houston Hall will be closed on March 2 for Texas Independence Day.

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U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez announced Friday night that the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) had reached agreement on a new five-year contract covering 29 ports. The ports resumed full operations starting Saturday evening. The agreement was reached three days after Perez arrived in San Francisco to broker a deal with the help of a federal mediator who had joined the talks six weeks earlier. The White House called the deal, reached after nine months of negotiations, “a huge relief” for the economy, businesses and workers. The ILWU had been without a contract since July.

The West Coast ports handle nearly half of all U.S. maritime trade and more than 70 percent of the country’s Asian imports. During the dispute, shipping companies sharply curtailed operations at the marine terminals, suspending loading and unloading of cargo vessels for night shifts, holidays and weekends at the five busiest ports. The tentative contract is subject to ratification by members of the union and the individual shipping lines and terminal operators that make up the PMA.

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The AFL-CIO Transportation Trades Department (TTD) and leaders of the 32 TTD member unions convened last week to roll out their 2015 policy agenda. With most major transportation investment bills pending this year, TTD affiliates—including MMM&P–embraced an agenda focused on finding solutions to long-simmering industry problems.

“2015 must be about holding those we elected accountable to the American people who have grown weary of a transportation system that is falling apart and an economic recovery that is still leaving too many behind,” said TTD President Edward Wytkind. “Our agenda offers prescriptive solutions to a wide range of issues that touch every aspect of our transportation system and workforce–from modernization, safety and worker protections to collective bargaining, trade policy and the role of transportation investment as an engine for middle class job creation.”

At the convention—which marked TTD’s 25th year of advocating for America’s transportation workers–Wytkind and Secretary-Treasurer Larry Willis were reelected to their positions. “MM&P congratulates TTD President Ed Wytkind and Secretary-Treasurer Larry Willis on their reelection,” said MM&P President Don Marcus.”TTD’s leadership on the array of challenges facing transportation workers is invaluable.”

Unions at the convention met with two Republican lawmakers and with Peter Rogoff, under-secretary for policy at the U.S. Department of Transportation, who reviewed the administration’s continuing push for Congress to stop kicking the can on funding a long-term transportation investment vision.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx sent a message to the group. “TTD and its affiliated unions have consistently been on the front lines, working to advance a strong transportation investment and safety agenda that keeps America moving and expands transportation job creation,” Foxx said. “The Department of Transportation will continue to work with our union partners to ensure that the traveling public, businesses and workers have access to strong, modern and safe transportation systems and infrastructure.”

Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) discussed working with TTD affiliates to expand GOP support for transportation labor’s agenda. “I had a critical opportunity to sit down with transportation union leaders today to discuss the importance of job creation, collective bargaining and increased safety for America’s transportation workers,” said King. “I look forward to working together with them and the Republican conference to find bipartisan solutions to our transportation infrastructure crises and to ensure we are supporting transportation workers’ jobs and rights in the proposals we advance.”

The TTD Executive Committee also welcomed U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.). “Whether it’s by way of ground, water or air, our economy is reliant upon an efficient transportation system,” Davis said. “Investing in transportation and infrastructure means investing in good-paying American jobs. As a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, I will continue to work with TTD to support policies and investments to help build a 21st century transportation system.”

During the convention, the group addressed all the major transportation policy debates in Washington with a focus on expanding investments, reforming safety policy, protecting workers’ rights and rejecting job-killing trade policies. The Executive Committee approved 11 policy statements, including:

– continued staunch opposition to a flag-of-convenience airline, NAI, that wants to offer transatlantic air service from the United States using third-party contract pilots and cabin crews employed under the labor laws of developing countries such as Singapore;

– a call for new safety rules, including operator training and certification, before commercially operated drones are allowed to operate widely in U.S. air space;

– rejection of the Obama administration’s request for “fast track” authority to negotiate secret trade deals;

– increased use of Buy America policies in transportation infrastructure projects;

– more funding for Amtrak passenger rail, with safeguards on the rights, jobs and wages of rail and construction workers;

– rail safety reform, including a plan to address chronic employee fatigue and prohibitions on the use of one-person freight train crews; and

– support for a strong, financially sound Postal Service with reforms to ensure the agency’s long-term financial solvency does not come at the expense of employees or customers.

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MM&P has joined other members of the Federal Workers Alliance (FWA) in supporting a bill by Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-Wash.) that would repeal Defense Department (DOD) cuts to long-term travel for workers on temporary duty (TDY), such as the civil service mariners who belong to the MM&P Federal Employees Membership Group (FEMG). The FWA has calculated that the regulation will translate into $30 million annually in fees and other charges to the department’s civilian workforce. The controversial cuts, which the agency announced in 2013, are 25 percent of lodging and per diem reimbursements for workers on travel for over 30 days and 45 percent for travel in excess of 180 days.

Opponents of the cuts say they hurt morale and cause an unfair burden on those who travel for the government. Under the reductions, for each full day during long-term TDY of 31 to 180 days, the rate is now 75 percent of the locality rate (lodging plus meals and incidentals); for travel lasting more than 180 days, it falls to 55 percent of the locality rate for each full day. Another change, which requires “incidental travel expenses” to cover laundry, baggage tips and ATM fees rather than being treated as separate, reimbursable items, took effect on Oct. 1. The incidental expense per diem is only $5. That new policy also requires certain expenses, including cell phone use, to be treated as “mission-related” rather than “travel-related” and paid for outside the travel system. That means travelers who want to be reimbursed for cell phone use will have to file a separate claim.

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Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Jeh C. Johnson is urging Congress to pass a “clean” appropriations bill for the agency for FY 2015. The Republican majority in Congress is seeking to tie funding to an attempt to quash President Obama’s recent Executive Order on immigration. Johnson says maritime security would be among the areas that would be compromised by failure to appropriate full funding.

“I continue to stress the need for a clean, full-year DHS appropriations bill for FY 2015, unburdened by politically charged amendments that attempt to defund our executive actions on immigration reform,” Johnson said in an official statement. “The President has made plain that he will veto a bill that includes such language.” DHS is now operating on a continuing resolution (CR) that expires Feb. 27.

As long as DHS is funded by a CR, Johnson says, “a whole series of activities vital to homeland security and public safety… cannot be undertaken.” In the maritime sector, Johnson said, contract negotiations to construct the Coast Guard’s 8th National Security Cutter will be delayed, causing a significant increase in costs and postponing delivery “of this urgently needed ship.” National Security Cutters perform drug interdiction and other law enforcement operations in the maritime approaches to the U.S. border, protect marine resources and perform other critical maritime defense and security operations.

Johnson said midlife maintenance of the Coast Guard’s 225-foot buoy tender ships would also be delayed. The ships maintain aids to navigation to ensure safe transit of commercial vessels along thousands of miles of U.S. coast, keep sea lanes free of winter ice and recover spilled oil. The DHS secretary also said less funding would be available for critical USCG depot-level maintenance on aircraft, cutters and boats. “Reduced maintenance funding results in broken equipment, unsatisfactory crew living conditions and diminished ability to protect our Nation,” Johnson said. “I urge Congress to pass a clean, full-year appropriations bill for the Department of Homeland Security, and to do so on or before Feb. 27,” he said.

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Some tax preparers are requesting that clients provide forms showing health insurance coverage for preparation of 2014 tax returns. Please note that there is no requirement under the Affordable Care Act for the Plan to provide any form for the 2014 tax year. The requirement to provide the member and his or her covered dependents with forms showing they have health coverage will be effective for the 2015 Plan year and the Plan will send the necessary forms in early 2016.

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A jury in New Orleans on Feb. 18 awarded $14 million to five Indian workers who were brought to the United States after Hurricane Katrina and forced to work under brutal conditions by an Alabama ship repair company, Signal International. The court found the company guilty of labor trafficking, fraud, racketeering and discrimination and ordered it to pay $12 million. Two co-defendants, a New Orleans lawyer and an India-based recruiter, were also found guilty and ordered to pay an additional $2 million in fines.

Signal allegedly recruited about 500 Indian men as guest workers to repair oil rigs after the hurricane. Each man paid $10,000 to the recruiter and was promised a good job and permanent U.S. residency for himself and his family, the plaintiffs said. The lawsuit also claimed Signal charged the men $1,050 a month to live in small, crowded labor camps where they were kept under guard. “The defendants exploited our clients… and tried to deny them their day in court,” plaintiffs’ attorney and Southern Poverty Law Center board chairman Alan Howard said in a statement.

Signal International has said it is “disappointed” with the verdict and may appeal. A separate suit, brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, is scheduled to begin in June. That case centers on claims that in March 2007, Signal’s private security guards detained several workers and threatened to have them deported for seeking help from workers’ rights advocates.

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At least 70 people died Sunday when a cargo boat struck the center of a ferry carrying more than 150 passengers and crew in the Padma River in central Bangladesh. Such accidents are common in the country, where safety standards are lax, ferries do not generally have passenger lists and river travel is the norm. A similar accident on Feb. 13 on a river in the southern part of the country killed at least seven people. Last August, a ferry with an official capacity of 85 passengers was carrying more than 200 when it capsized on the Padma River, killing more than 100. In the most recent accident, rescuers managed to save at least 50 passengers of the 140 thought to be on the ferry when it sank. Most of the passengers who were on the deck survived, while many who were inside were trapped and drowned. The captain and crew of the cargo boat that struck the ferry have been arrested.

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MITAGS needs your current address! Have you moved recently? Did you remember to send MITAGS your new address for communications regarding courses? Please send your current contact information to or to the fax number below.

New dedicated fax line for Admissions only: 1-443-568-1928. For all other MITAGS business, please continue to use: 410-859-5181.

For class availability or information on MITAGS courses and programs, contact Kelly Michielli, Admissions Coordinator, toll-free at 866-656-5568 or by e-mail: . Why not try our on-line calendar to register for class:

Please note the special addition to our on-campus schedule of MSC classes marked with an asterisk (*), which are not normally scheduled to be held at MITAGS.

AB – 4/13/15, 8/17/15, 10/12/15

AIS-1 – Automatic Identifications Systems Orientation: 6/19/15, 7/13/15

ARPA-OIC – Automated Radar Plotting Aids: 3/31/15, 8/4/15, 9/22/15

AZIPOD 2-Day – 4/6/15, 10/1/15

BRM-35 – Bridge Resource Management: 3/23/15, 5/18/15, 8/3/15, 10/19/15

BRMP –Bridge Resource Management for Pilots: 3/2/15, 4/13/15, 6/17/15, 7/16/15, 11/9/15

BRMP-EMR –Bridge Resource Management for Pilots with Emergency Shiphandling: 3/4/15, 4/8/15, 9/28/15

BT – Basic Safety Training: 4/6/15, 6/8/15, 8/10/15, 10/5/15

BT-Revalidation –8/4/15, 11/3/15

CHS-OIC – Cargo Handling Basic: 4/13/15, 10/26/15

[CMM – Chief Mate and Master Courses]

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

ADVSTB-CMM – Advanced Stability: 4/20/15, 6/15/15, 7/27/15, 9/28/15

ADVWX-CMM – Advanced Meteorology: 4/13/15, 6/1/15, 8/3/15, 10/19/15

CHS-CMM – Advanced Cargo Operations (2 weeks): 4/27/15, 10/5/15

ECDIS – Electronic Chart Display Information System: 4/6/15, 6/8/15, 8/17/15, 11/2/15, 12/7/15

LMS – Leadership and Managerial Skills (Management Level – Formerly MCL-CMM): 3/9/15, 3/30/15, 4/20/15, 5/11/15,6/22/15, 7/13/15, 8/10/15, 8/31/15, 10/26/15, 11/30/15

MPP-CMM – Marine Propulsion Plants: 3/2/15, 11/16/15

SHMGT-CMM- Ship Management (2 weeks): 3/9/15, 9/14/15

SHS-ADV-I-CMM – Advanced Shiphandling (week 1): 3/9/15, 3/30/15, 4/13/15, 5/4/15, 6/1/15, 7/13/15, 8/10/15, 8/24/15,10/5/15, 11/9/15, 11/30/15

SHS-ADV-II-CMM – Advanced Shiphandling (week 2): 3/16/15, 4/6/15, 4/20/15, 5/11/15, 6/8/15, 7/20/15, 8/17/15, 8/31/15,10/12/15, 11/16/15, 12/7/15

VPEN-CMM – Voyage Planning & Electronic Navigation: 3/23/15

WKP-CMM – Advanced Watchkeeping: 5/11/15, 11/9/15

CNAV-OIC – Celestial Navigation: 4/27/15, 11/9/15

CONT PLNG – Contingency Planning Workshop: Contact Admissions

CRISIS-COMMS – Crisis Communications: 7/9/15

DDE – Great Lakes: 5/27/15

DPA – 3/19/15

ECDIS-OIC – Contact Admissions

ECDIS-Pilots – 3/2/15, 6/15/15, 7/14/15, 11/12/15

ERM – Engine Resource Management: Contact Admissions

FF-BADV – Fire Fighting Combined Basic & Advanced: 4/6/15, 6/8/15, 8/10/15, 10/5/15

FSM – Fatigue, Sleep, & Medications: 4/14/15, 7/6/15, 9/15/15, 11/11/15

GL Pilot – Great Lakes Pilotage Familiarization: Contact Admissions

GMDSS – Global Maritime Distress and Safety System: 3/16/15, 8/24/15

HAZ – Hazardous Materials (5 day): 6/22/15, 8/31/15, 11/16/15

LAP- 4/6/15, 9/14/15

LAP-Great Lakes – License Advancement Program – Great Lakes: Contact Admissions

LAP-ORG3rd – License Advancement Program for Original 3rd Mate, Oceans, Any Gross
Ton License: 3/2/15, 6/1/15, 8/3/15, 11/30/15

LEG – Legal Aspects of Pilotage: 3/3/15, 4/15/15, 6/17/15, 7/16/15, 9/16/15, 11/10/15

LNG-TPIC – 12/7/15

LTS –Leadership and Teamworking Skills (Formerly MCL-OIC): 3/30/15, 9/21/15

MED-PIC – Medical Person in Charge: 3/16/15, 4/20/15, 6/15/15, 8/24/15, 12/7/15

MED-PIC-REF– Medical Person in Charge Refresher: 3/2/15, 5/11/15, 7/27/15, 9/28/15

MED-PRO – Medical Care Provider: 3/16/15, 4/20/15, 6/15/15, 8/24/15, 10/12/15, 12/7/15

MED-DOT-DA – Dept. of Transportation Drug & Alcohol Testing: 3/21/15, 4/25/15, 6/20/15, 7/25/15, 8/28/15, 11/5/15, 12/12/15

MSA –Maritime Security Awareness: Contact Admissions

[MSC – Military Sealift Command Courses]

MSC-CBRD-1 – Military Sealift Command Chemical, Biological, Radiological Defense Orientation (Basic): 2/26/15, 6/5/15, 8/19/15, 10/29/15

MSC-DC – Military Sealift Command Damage Control (4 Evenings): 6/2/15, 8/17/15, 10/27/15

*MSC-ENVPRO – 6/6/15, 8/16/15, 10/31/15

*MSC-FF-HELO – 6/9/15, 8/3/15, 11/2/15

MSC-SMA – Military Sealift Command Small Arms Qualification: 5/26/15, 8/8/15, 10/19/15

*MSC-Security Watch Basic – 5/30/15, 8/6/15, 10/17/15

*MSC-Security Watch Advanced –6/1/15, 8/12/15, 10/23/15

*MSC-Ship’s Reaction Force – 6/2/15, 8/13/15, 10/24/15

ROR-1 – Radar Observer Renewal: 3/30/15, 8/3/15, 9/21/15

ROR-1N – Radar Observer Renewal Evening Classes: 3/6/15, 3/18/15, 4/1/15, 4/15/15, 4/29/15, 5/6/15, 5/13/15, 6/3/15, 6/17/15, 7/8/15, 7/22/15, 8/5/15, 8/19/15, 9/2/15, 9/16/15, 9/30/15, 10/14/15, 10/28/15, 11/3/15, 11/11/15, 11/18/15, 12/2/15, 12/10/15

ROU-OIC – Radar Observer Program – Unlimited: 3/23/15, 6/1/15, 7/27/15

SAR-OIC – Search & Rescue – 4/6/15, 10/19/15

SHS-BAS-OIC – Basic Shiphandling: 5/11/15, 6/22/15, 11/2/15

SHS-EMR5 – Emergency Shiphandling-5 Day: 3/2/15, 4/27/15, 7/27/15, 9/28/15

SMS – 3/17/15

STB-OIC – Ship Construction and Basic Stability: 8/3/15

TCNAV/CO – Terrestrial Navigation and Compasses: 7/6/15

TPIC – Tankerman Person in Charge: 8/3/15

TRAC-TUG-2: Contact Admissions

TTT – 3/23/15

VPDSD – Vessel Personnel with Designated Security Duties: 5/21/15

VSO – Vessel Security Officer: 4/18/15, 5/18/15, 7/22/15, 9/9/15, 10/7/15, 10/17/15

WKP-OIC – Watchkeeping (Operational Level): 3/2/15, 9/28/15

WX-OIC –Meteorology (Operational Level): 9/14/15

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Please also see our schedule and enroll online at For registration contact our registrar, Jennifer Pitzen: 206.838.1126 or

March 2015

2-6 Leadership and Managerial Skills
2-6 Basic Construction and Stability
9th Radar Renewal
9-20 Celestial Navigation
16-20 Leadership and Managerial Skills
16-20 Medical Care Provider
16-27 GMDSS
16-27 Medical Person-In-Charge
23-27 ECDIS
30-3 Leadership and Managerial Skills

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The MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly is the official electronic newsletter of the International Organization of Masters, Mates, & Pilots, ILA, AFL-CIO, 700 Maritime Blvd. Suite B, Linthicum Heights, MD 21090-1953. Phone: 410-850-8700; Fax: 410-850-0973. All rights reserved. The MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly © 2015. Articles can be reprinted without prior permission if credit is given to The MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly. For new subscriptions or address changes, send an e-mail to Back issues of The Weekly are posted on