Wheelhouse Weekly – February 19, 2004

February 19th 2004



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

Volume 8 . . . . . Number 8 . . . . February 19, 2004




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



MM&P International President Capt. Tim Brown announced that on Friday, Feb.13, the Union’s General Executive Board formally endorsed John Kerry for US President as the Democratic nominee in the ongoing presidential primaries and in the November elections. Kerry, 60, is currently serving his fourth term representing Massachusetts in the US Senate. He was elected to his most recent Senate term with 81 percent of the vote.

“He is right for America and right for America’s workers, including US merchant mariners,” stated Capt. Brown. “John Kerry has the depth of knowledge and breadth of expertise to serve ALL Americans as our chief executive. His positions are sound, he has seen war firsthand, and his roots are those of the average US citizen.”

Meanwhile, the AFL-CIO General Board voted to endorse Sen. Kerry on Thursday, Feb.19. After the endorsement vote, Kerry joined workers and several hundred union members and federation and affiliated union staff and leaders at a rally at the AFL-CIO HQ in Washington, DC.

“Every place I have been in this campaign, I have seen the wreckage of the Bush economy… Jobs on the run… Every single year George Bush has promised to create jobs and every year he’s ending up losing them,” said Kerry, as union members waved colorful placards and signs in support of Kerry for president.

Kerry’s endorsement by the AFL-CIO General Board shows “the union movement is united in making sure that the next president of the US is one who puts working families’ priorities first – issues like health care, good jobs and a strong economy,” said AFL-CIO President John Sweeney.

For more on the AFL-CIO endorsement and for links to info on where Sen. Kerry stands on the issues, go to:

For more info about John Kerry, visit his presidential campaign website at or go to to visit his US Senate homepage.




On Feb.13, MM&P Secretary-Treasurer Capt. Glen Banks, International Counsel John Singleton, Associate Counsel Gab Terrasa and members of their families joined with over 100 community, religious and labor activists from many other Baltimore area unions to demonstrate at a local Safeway store in the name of Solidarity for the 70,000 striking and locked out workers who are members of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) in Southern California.

MM&P members in the Los Angeles area have been lending their support every day, joining their Safeway brother and sister unionists on the picket lines.

The Baltimore effort is part of nationwide AFL-CIO campaign: “We Won’t Let Safeway Destroy Our Health Care”. The new nationwide effort is designed to keep Safeway from effectively destroying meaningful health care benefits for workers in its Southern California stores and at other stores and bargaining units around the nation.

Since Oct.11, 2003, over 70,000 grocery workers have been on strike against Safeway/Vons and locked out by Albertsons and Kroger/Ralphs in southern California. Safeway doesn’t have to cut benefits. Profits have gone up 82% to $3.1 billion over the past five years. Under the Safeway proposal, new workers would have no real benefits at all, and current workers would face $95 a week premium co-pays or massive benefits cuts.

The workers are fighting for health care not only for themselves and their families, but also for all of America’s working people whose employers are making them shoulder the burden of rising health care costs.

“Every working family should be concerned about Safeway taking the corporate greed low-road, and rewarding top executives at the expense of working families’ health care benefits. We have to hold the line on health care for America’s workers,” said Ernie Grecco, President of the Baltimore Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO.

The Baltimore demonstrators went into the Safeway and paid for their purchase in pennies. This drove management up the wall as they could not count pennies fast enough to keep the check-out lines moving. They closed down the store for 3 hours during prime evening shopping time, threw their customers out in the street and even had one of them arrested for paying in US tender.

Baltimore’s labor leader Grecco was the one who spent the night in jail. “All I was trying to do was to buy my wife a Valentines Day gift and all I had was a pocket full of pennies. Safeway threw me in jail because I had pennies in my pocket,” said Grecco.

Capt. Banks said that the activists paid for their purchase in pennies because they, “Wanted Safeway to know that if workers are forced to pay outrageous prices for healthcare benefits, workers may not even have pennies to buy their groceries.”



Even as unions across the nation, including the MM&P, are demonstrating in support the UFCW workers in Southern California in their fight to retain health care benefits, employers have unleashed a new wave of cutbacks in company-paid health benefits for retirees.

Published reports document that a growing number of companies are now saying that retirees can retain coverage only if they are willing to bear the full cost themselves.

Scores of companies in the last two years, including the telecommunications equipment giants Lucent Technologies and Alcatel and a big electric utility, TXU, have ended medical benefits for some or all of their retirees and instead offered to let them buy group plan coverage. This coverage is often more expensive than many retirees can afford.

Experts expect that the trend, driven by the fast-rising cost of health care, will continue despite the billions of dollars that the government will distribute to companies that maintain retiree health coverage when the new Medicare drug benefit begins in two years.

In contrast to pension financing, companies are not obligated to set aside funds to pay for retirees’ health benefits regardless of any promises made to their workers. These health plans can be changed or terminated by the company, with no appeal available to the retirees.

The costs can be a shock. According to surveys by benefits consultants, companies that offer health benefits to retirees typically have subsidized about 60 percent of the premium. Losing that support all at once can mean hundreds of dollars a month in unexpected costs.

Moreover, in dropping their subsidies, many companies push retirees into insurance pools that are separate from those of younger, healthier workers, executives said. That lowers the company’s costs for insuring its current workers, while raising the premiums charged to retirees even further.

Last month, a study for the Kaiser Family Foundation by Hewitt Associates found that among employers that have maintained retiree coverage, about 15 percent have required at least some retirees to assume the full cost of their insurance in the last two years. Another 31 percent said they would probably adopt these so-called access-only health plans within the next three years.

“Twenty years from now, no company will offer retiree health care,” Uwe Reinhardt, a health economist at Princeton University, said. Hewitt Associates said that the roster of companies offering retiree health benefits had dwindled as medical costs soared and employers encountered new competitors, both overseas and at home, that rarely covered retirees.

According to the Kaiser-Hewitt survey, the average monthly health insurance premium for an employee who took early retirement last year was $845, including coverage for the spouse. Early retirees who lost the typical 60 percent subsidy would face added costs of more than $500 a month.

With retiree health costs continuing to spiral, studies increasingly show that more and more companies are planning to reduce or eliminate retiree health benefits, especially prescription drug coverage, without waiting for the new Medicare drug benefit to become available in 2006.



President Bush recently highlighted his commitment to protecting the homeland, including America’s ports and increasing cargo security by noting the increased funding in his ’05 budget, saying that “some” of those increases are measures to protect seaports.

Critics have complained that the budget request of $46 million in grants to port facilities is a mere drop in the bucket compared to the estimated $400+ million necessary.

He also discussed the National Targeting Center in Northern Virginia, where cargo manifest information is analyzed and the Container Security Initiative (CSI). “We’re not waiting for ships and planes to arrive; we’ve got what we call a Proliferation Security Initiative ­ fancy words which means America is working with other governments to track and stop the shipments of dangerous weapons and dangerous cargo.”

The new budget and maritime-port inclusions:

  • The President’s FY 2005 budget request includes a 9.7 percent increase in government-wide homeland security funding over FY 2004, nearly tripling the FY 2001 levels.
  • It also includes a $3.6 billion overall increase over FY 2004 for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), doubling funding for DHS programs since FY 2001.

The President’s budget also includes:

  • $1.9 billion for DHS-wide port security efforts, an increase of 13 percent over FY 2004 and 628 percent ($1.6 billion) over FY 2001. These funds include $102 million for the USCG to implement the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002, which sets security standards for certain vessels, port facilities, and critical offshore platforms.
  • A total of $6.6 billion to maintain and enhance border security activities, a $447 million increase over FY 2004 and a 70 percent ($2.7 billion) increase over FY 2001.



Sen. Ernest Hollings (D-SC), a leading port security advocate, is critical of President Bush maritime security efforts and has assembled a brief entitled “The President’s Real Record on Port Security“. In the brief, Hollings accuses the Bush Administration of refusing to pay for port security outright and not submitting port security funding plans as required by law.

He accuses Senate Republicans of being “all talk and no action” on port security. Hollings also noted that in 2003, President Bush made no request for port security in the supplemental appropriations bill. Then, the Senate voted down two efforts, along party lines, to fund port security funding, he said.

The USCG has estimated that it will cost $7.2 billion dollars over the next 10 years to implement the required federal security plans, yet the President has requested no funds at all to help the ports and security agencies meet the new mandates.




MITAGS will offer a four day MSC-Small Arms Training Program, valid for original qualification or requalification, from March 22-25. Originally, two SMA requalification programs were scheduled in this time slot.

MITAGS replaced the March requalification courses in order to accommodate the membership’s request for original certification, which is necessary for employment on the LMSR’s. The MSC-SMA-Requal course was added to the MITAGS curriculum to provide additional opportunities for the MM&P members to keep their certification current.

MITAGS’ schedule alternates original and requalification Small Arms courses throughout 2004.

Class Openings

Between now and the end of March 2004, seats are available in the following courses:

~~~ ~~~ ~~~

  • ARPA – Automatic Radar Plotting Aids: 3/15


  • BRM – Bridge Resource Management: 3/15
  • BST – Basic Safety Training: 3/1


CMM = Chief Mate and Master Courses

  • CMM-CHS-1 – Cargo Handling & Stowage (week 1): 2/23
  • CMM-CHS-2 – Cargo Handling & Stowage (week 2): 3/1
  • CMM-ECDIS – Electronic Chart Display and Info Systems: 3/15
  • CMM-SHS-ADV-1 – Advanced Shiphandling (week 1): 2/23, 3/22
  • CMM-SHS-ADV-11 – Advanced Shiphandling (week 2): 3/29
  • CMM-SHMGT-1 – Ship Management (week 1): 3/15
  • CMM-SHMGT-2 – Ship Management (week 2): 3/22
  • CMM-WKP – Watchkeeping: 3/8


  • COMP-ABSS – Computer ABS Safenet Program: 3/8
  • COMP-DC – Computer Database Program: 3/22
  • CONT-PLNG – Contingency Planning Workshop: 2/26: 3/11
  • CSE-AWR – Confined Space Entry Awareness (1-day): 3/22


  • FF-ADV — Advanced Firefighting: 3/15


  • MED-DOT-DA – Dept. of Trans. Drug & Alcohol Testing: 3/27
  • MEDIA-RSP – Media Response: 2/27, 3/12
  • MED-SMC – Shipboard Medical Care: 3/1


MSC = Military Sealift Command Courses

  • MSC-CBRD-1 – Chemical Biological Radiological Defense Training Orientation: 2/27
  • MSC-COMMS – Strategic Sealift Communications: 2/23
  • MSC-DC – Damage Control: 2/28, 3/26
  • MSC-SMA-Small Arms Training: 3/22


  • ROP-5 — Radar Observer Program (Original and Renewal): 2/23
  • ROR-1 — Radar Observer Renewal: 3/20


  • SEC-OFF PCS — Security Officer-Port, Company, Ship: 2/23, 3/8
  • SHS-EMR5 — Emergency Shiphandling: 3/8


  • T-PIC — Tankship or Barge Hazardous Liquids, Person-In-Charge: 3/8

~~~ ~~~ ~~~

Check the MITAGS website for up-to-date course descriptions associated with the course title abbreviations, and for schedule revisions.


Attendance Verification & Cancellation is Vital

If you are scheduled for a course, call, write, or Email admissions to advise whether or not you will attend. Many classes are in demand and maintain a Standby List. “No Shows” are missed training opportunities for other members.


Schedules, Course Info & Registration

Courses are subject to change. Always check the MITAGS website for updated course availability. You can also check future schedules, review detailed course descriptions and register on-line or contact Admissions at or by calling toll-free, 1-866-656-5568.



Course Schedule

~~~ ~~~ ~~~

  • 2/23-25: Ship Security
  • 2/23-3/5: Ship Management
  • 2/23-27: Tankerman Person-In-Charge


  • 3/1-2:Search & Rescue
  • 3/3-5: Emergency Procedures
  • 3/1-5:Radar Observer Unlimit
  • 3/8-12: Ship Construction and Basic Stability
  • 3/8-12: Advanced Meteorology
  • 3/15-19:Basic Safety Train
  • 3/15-19: Basic Cargo Handling and Stowage
  • 3/15-19: ECDIS
  • 3/15-26: GMDSS
  • 3/22/26: Basic and Advanced Firefighting
  • 3/22-26: ARPA
  • 3/22: Radar Recertification
  • 3/22-24: Ship Security
  • 3/29-4/2: Medical Provider
  • 3/29-4/9: Medical Person-In-Charge

~~~ ~~~ ~~~

Contact DeeDee Lazik at 206-441-2880 or 888-893-7829 (toll free) for registration or visit the PMI website at




 D O W    N A S D A Q
 10,671.99 – 55.71 for the week  2,076.47  – 13.19 for the week

Fund Name & Trading Symbol


Year-to-Date Fund
Percentage Return

1, 3 and 5 Year
Fund Percentage Returns
 Vanguard 500 Index Fund (VFINX)


+ 4.25 %
+40.85 // -2.71 // +0.26
 Vanguard Extended Market Index Fund (VEXMX)


+ 6.30 %
+62.90 // +4.63 // +9.65
 Vanguard International Growth Fund (VWIGX)


+ 7.13 %
+51.12 // +0.01 // +2.16
 Vanguard Morgan Growth Fund (VMRGX)


+ 4.71 %
+47.57 // -2.63 // +2.01
 Vanguard Windsor II Fund (VWNFX)


+ 5.70 %
+43.93 // +3.07 // +4.40
 Vanguard GNMA Fund (VFIIX)


+ 1.00 %
+3.09 // +6.47 // +6.47
 Vanguard High Yield Corporate Fund (VWEHX)


+ 1.09 %
+17.06 // +5.49 // +4.39
 Vanguard Total Bond Index (VBMFX)


+ 1.55 %
+5.20 // +6.80 // +6.51
 Chase Growth Fund (CHASX)


+ 5.91 %
+28.82 // -1.17 // +4.22
 Fidelity Asset Manager (FASMX)


+ 3.17 %
+23.86 // +2.56 // +4.60
 Fidelity Growth and Income (FGRIX)


+ 3.70 %
+29.21 // -1.79 // +0.24
Fidelity Magellan Fund (FMAGX)


+ 3.90 %
+36.74 // -3.78 // -0.39
 Spartan US Equity Index Fund (FUSEX)


+ 4.24 %
+40.87 // -2.45 // +0.16

~ Reminders ~



The buildings remain where they have always stood, but they have now been assigned new addresses. Local authorities have determined that it was necessary to put in place new street numbering for the MM&P’s MITAGS facility and for the MM&P Health & Benefit Plan office. The longstanding address of 5700 Hammonds Ferry Rd., used for both MITAGS and the Plan, has been eliminated.

Effective immediately:

  • The mailing address for MITAGS has been changed to:
    • 692 Maritime Blvd
      Linthicum Heights, MD 21090


  • The new mailing address for the Plan Office is now:
    • 700 Maritime Blvd.
      Suite A
      Linthicum Heights, MD 21090-1996
    • This is the same street address as the Union headquarters since both offices are housed in the same building, but the Plan Office is denoted with a suite number.


  • The mailing address for the MM&P Federal Credit Union, located in the Plans Building Lobby, is now:
    • 700 Maritime Blvd.
      Linthicum Heights, MD 21090-1996

The change brings the MITAGS, Plans and MM&P FCU addresses into conformance with Postal and 911 emergency mapping since all the buildings are located on the same road of the campus.

Plan Administrator Valerie Verrecchio advises Plan participants that “it is important to remember when you send mail to the Plans that you clearly address it to ‘MM&P Plans’ and to include our new suite number. This is what the Post Office will use to differentiate mail between the Union and the Plan office. Otherwise, the Post Office may send it through the mail system at the Union and your claims processing could be delayed for a couple of days.”

There is no change to the Union HQ mailing address.



The Maritime Institute of Technology and Graduate Studies (MITAGS) seeks an individual who can apply his/her knowledge and experience in marine shipboard operations to help solve organizational problems through training and education.

Excellent written and verbal skills a must. Person must also have an outgoing personality and be a goal-oriented self-starter with the ability to work independently. Travel expected 25 percent of time to seek opportunities and present proposals.

Desired background:

  • bachelor’s degree, graduate degree a plus;
  • unlimited tonnage license (or military equivalent), and
  • a record of continuing education.
  • Extensive industry contacts preferred.

MITAGS is located near the BWI airport, convenient to Baltimore, Washington and Annapolis, MD. Excellent full Union benefits, competitive salary. See our web site, for more info. Resumes to Human Resources Fax: 443-989-3341; Email: EOE.



All Licensed Deck Officers who possess STCW-95 certificates containing Basic Safety Training (BST) completion dates close to or more than five years old need to carry copies of their USCG discharges with them so they can prove that they have the required sea service necessary to extend their BST qualification. For questions or further info, contact Mike Rodriguez at 410-850-8700 ext.23 or Email:



MM&P-contracted LMS Ship Management recently reviewed the causes of injuries on board their vessels and found that accidental falls tend to be the cause of many of the crew’s injuries. In an effort to reduce the number of injuries caused by these falls, LMS is offering crewmembers that sail with them an incentive to purchase and wear proper shoe attire. The goal is for every crewmember to wear slip resistant footwear during their working hours aboard their vessels.

LMS will offer a reimbursement of up to $75 for the cost of the shoes to each crewmember who provides them 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.

LMS requests that crewmembers purchase one of the following recommended brands in order to be reimbursed:

  • 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 (with steel toe & slip resistant sole)

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

Red Wing has contracts with the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) while Wolverine World Wide has contracts with UNITE!, the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees, for production of its Caterpillar brand (as well as its Hy-Test, Durashock and Bates Military labels). Some other Wolverine branded products including combat boots are manufactured under UFCW contract. 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 and click on Union Made Product Search.



The USCG advises that if you began your service or training in the towing industry before May 21, 2001, you may receive a license for Master of Towing Vessels if, before May 21 2004, you complete the exam required by 46 CFR 10.903(a)(18)(i) and meet either of the following two requirements:

1. Three years of service, including:

  • Two years on deck aboard a vessel 26-feet or more in length;
  • One year on deck aboard a towing vessel, with at least six months of training or duty in the wheelhouse of the towing vessel; and
  • Three months in each particular geographic area for which you are seeking authority.

~ OR ~

2. Three years of service aboard towing vessels, including:

  • One year on deck, with at least six months of training or duty in the wheelhouse of the towing vessel; and
  • Three months in each particular geographic area for which you are seeking authority.

The deadline to complete testing and service is May 21, 2004. If you miss this deadline, then the requirement to work up through Apprentice Mate, Mate, and then Master will apply. Although the deadline is this May, applications submitted after January may not allow sufficient time for evaluation and testing.

For additional info, please contact Richard Wells at 504-240-7300, ext 232, or via Email at



MITAGS Executive Director Glen Paine announced that MITAGS and PMI have implemented an innovative program, with reduced tuition and hotel costs, to assist professional mariners seeking license advancement to Chief Mate/Master (CMM).

The Institutes now offer one of the fastest, most versatile, and cost-effective routes for mariners to obtain their CMM licenses. The MITAGS/PMI program, which covers all USCG requirements, is only 12 weeks in duration.

Forty-one of the 53 required assessments may be completed during these courses. To flexibly meet their schedule, students can take the required courses at the PMI campus in Seattle, Washington and/or at the MITAGS campus in Baltimore, Maryland.

The MITAGS/PMI program can be completed in 60 days for under $14,000. Other programs take up to 71 days and charge $19,000 to complete the CMM requirements. Students taking ALL of the CMM courses at MITAGS and/or PMI will receive a 15 percent tuition discount from the normal pricing, which brings the total CMM tuition down to $13,303.

In addition to this cost reduction, those students taking ALL of the CMM courses at MITAGS/PMI will receive a substantial reduction in the room and board rates. If needed, MITAGS and PMI will also provide a convenient and flexible payment plan.

For more info regarding the CMM License Advancement, or any other course programs offered by MITAGS or PMI, please contact Capt. Craig Thomas (MITAGS) toll free at 866-656-5569 or via Email at You may also contact Gregg Trunnell at PMI in Seattle at 206-239-9965 or via Email at



Through a special arrangement with ShipCom, MM&P members at sea will now receive a significant discount on personal ship-to-shore radiotelephone calls. The rate is $2.50 per minute to any phone number in the US. This is a significant discount from the usual rate of $3.99 per minute. Calls may be placed collect, or billed to any major credit card.

To take advantage of this offer or for more info contact Station WLO on HF SSB channels 405, 607, 824, 1212, 16401, 1807, or 2237 or on HF radio telex channels (selcall 1090) 406, 606, 806, 810, 815, 1205, 1211, 1605, 1615, 1810 or 2215.

MM&P members must identify themselves as an MM&P member and provide the operator with the last 4 digits of their MM&P book number in order to get the discounted rate.

Any vessel equipped with HF radio telex may send and receive Internet email via the telex terminal. For more info contact WLO radio via telex or HF SSB voice.



The National WWII Memorial has a site on its webpage for individuals who served in any capacity during WWII to register to be included in the Memorial’s Registry. The main site is

If the individual clicks on WWII Registry, he/she can find out if he/she is already included as a result of one of the WWII databases and, if not, can follow the directions to register. Any American who contributed to the war effort is eligible for the Registry.



  • Do you want an easy way to grow your savings?
  • Do you want an easier way to make deposits to your Masters, Mates & Pilots Federal Credit Union account?

Consider establishing payroll or pension direct deposit.

Many employers allow you to directly deposit your pay into several different financial institutions. Trinity Management, Strong America and Moran Towing of Florida are among the MM&P-contracted companies that already provide for employees to deposit funds directly into the MM&P Federal Credit Union.

MM&P Health & Benefit Plans Pensioners and A&G Region Pensioners may have deductions made directly from their pension check to their Credit Union account. In addition, employees of MM&P, Plans, MITAGS and MIRAID are also eligible for payroll deduction directly into their Credit Union account.

Add to your savings by paying yourself first! Contact your payroll office to establish Credit Union direct deposit or to find out if this is available for you.


Who Can Be a Member?

MM&P Federal Credit Union membership is open to all MM&P members, to all MM&P, MITAGS, MIRAID and Plans staff, and to their immediate families.


Want to Know More?

For additional details or to get answers to your questions on all MM&P Federal Credit Union programs, contact Kathy Klisavage, Credit Union Manager, toll-free at 1-800-382-7777 or by Email at


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: For further info or to subscribe contact John Peige at The Wheelhouse Weekly is sent via Email to MM&P-contracted vessels at sea, broadcast worldwide via FEC marine telex and is posted on our web page.