Wheelhouse Weekly – July 16, 2013

July 16th 2013


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

Volume 17 . . . Number 29. . . July 16, 2013

(Look in the archives for this weeks Special Edition.)



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


The Puerto Rico Hall will be closed on Thursday, July 25, for Constitution Day and on Friday, July 26, in honor of Jose Celso Barbosa, the father of the Puerto Rico statehood movement. The MM&P union halls in Seattle, San Francisco/Oakland and Los Angeles/Long Beach will be closed on Monday, July 29, for the ILWU holiday that commemorates the birthday of visionary labor leader and ILWU founder Harry Bridges.


The Maritime Labor Alliance (MLA), which was formed last year to protect the jurisdictional rights of its members, met in Chicago on July 9 to approve a constitution and set a course for the future. The members of the alliance are MM&P, the American Radio Association (ARA), the Inlandboatmen’s Union (IBU), the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA), the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association (MEBA). The constitution states that the MLA unions have joined forces “to promote unity and harmony in various aspects of the industry and maintain industry standards.” 

Three members of the MLA–MM&P, the ILA and MEBA—announced on July 16 that they are ending their affiliation with the AFL-CIO Maritime Trades Department (MTD). They will, however, retain their relationship with the AFL-CIO. ARA, the IBU and the ILWU were not MTD members but released a statement saying they support their MLA partner unions’ decision to withdraw from the MTD.

In an official release to the press, an ILA spokesperson said the union had decided to concentrate its energies on the new alliance “to strengthen the voice of maritime labor in the United States and end jurisdictional battles and raiding between unions…” In a letter delivered today to MTD President Michael Sacco, the ILA, MM&P and MEBA presidents cited “many years of deterioration in the ability of the MTD to address the needs of the maritime unions and the apparent willingness of the MTD to permit the dilution of the objectives and principles that are set forth in the MTD Constitution.” In recent years, all six union members of the MLA have witnessed jurisdictional attacks by other unions–some of which are MTD affiliates.

“It’s time for those maritime unions that respect each other’s jurisdiction and fight for the good of their members to join together to become the new and true voice of maritime unions in American,” said ILA President Harold J. Daggett. “The Maritime Labor Alliance will become that force and that voice.”


The House of Representatives passed its version of farm legislation on July 11 by a narrow 216-208 vote. The legislation does not contain language proposed by the Obama administration which would alter the PL 480 food aid program, an important source of cargo for U.S.-flag commercial vessels.

When the farm bill was previously considered by the House on June 19, Congressmen Ed Royce (R-Calif.) and Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) offered an amendment to add the administration’s proposal to the legislation. Their amendment would have changed the PL 480 program from one based on donations of U.S.-produced agricultural commodities shipped on U.S.-flag vessels to a program in which U.S. taxpayer dollars could be used to purchase foreign farm products, foreign shipping services or anything else, as determined by local recipients of the funds.

The Royce-Engel amendment, which was strongly opposed by MM&P, MEBA, the ILA, the ILWU and a large coalition of U.S.-flag shipping companies, associations and labor organizations as well as U.S. port and agricultural commodity groups, was rejected by the House by a vote of 203-220.

While the actions taken to date represent an important victory for those who support the PL 480 Program, the battle over food aid is far from over. We will continue to work with other supporters of this program and with our allies in Congress to preserve the time-tested and important PL 480 Food for Peace Program and its U.S.-flag vessel component.


Congresswoman Janice Hahn (D-Calif.) has introduced legislation to provide benefits to merchant mariners who served during World War II. In particular, the bill she has introduced, HR 1936, directs the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to establish the Merchant Mariner Equity Compensation Fund to provide a benefit of $1,000 per month to American merchant mariners who served on a vessel during World War II.

When she introduced the legislation, Hahn reminded her colleagues that many of those who made the ultimate sacrifice during World War II were not actually part of the U.S. military. In fact, civilian mariners were responsible for transporting troops and delivering supplies in that as in other conflicts.

“Even though they were mainly used as an auxiliary fleet, hundreds of ships and thousands of men were lost to enemy submarines and aircraft,” Hahn said. “Though knowledge of the role of non-uniformed merchant sailors in World War II may have faded, it was one of the most critical roles played during the early part of the war.” 

The congresswoman also underlined the fact that the merchant mariners who served the nation so valiantly “have never been eligible for the tuition subsidies, home loan guarantees or other provisions of the G.I. Bill that helped millions of veterans go to college, secure a home and transition seamlessly into civilian life. The fact that we are not providing similar benefits to those who have risked their lives for this country is,” she said, “simply unfathomable… By providing this modest benefit, we will finally be giving our brave merchant mariners the recognition they rightfully deserve.” MM&P is working with Hahn for the enactment of this legislation.


The partisan battle over seven of President Obama’s nominees to head executive branch agencies was resolved at the last minute on Tuesday afternoon with a compromise that entails “putting aside” two nominees to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

The compromise, which was announced as this issue of The Wheelhouse Weekly was being distributed, includes an agreement by President Obama and Congressional Democrats to abandon attempts to nominate accomplished labor lawyers Richard Griffin and Sharon Block to positions on the board. Obama had appointed Griffin and Block during a Senate recess. The New York Times reported that the compromise includes an understanding that replacement nominees would be confirmed by the Senate before the end of July.

“It is extremely disappointing that once again, a compromise has been made on the backs of American working people,” said MM&P President Don Marcus.

If the Senate does not confirm additional nominees to the board, the worker protections established by the National Labor Relations Act of 1935 will become almost completely unenforceable. Next month, the term of one of the current NLRB members is set to expire, which would leave the board without a quorum and unable to function.

Frustrated by Republican attempts to prevent a vote on the President’s nominees to the NLRB and two other executive branch agencies, on Monday Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said a rule change to end filibusters of nominations was the only way to “save the Senate from becoming obsolete.” Under the proposed rule change, which the media has dubbed “the nuclear option,” Democrats could change Senate rules with 51 votes rather than the 67 usually needed, thus allowing the President’s nominations to move forward. In light of the compromise reached on Tuesday afternoon, the rule change is apparently off the table for now.

Against the backdrop of the labor board battle, several members of Congress gathered with workers last week to deliver a letter to Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). The letter, which was signed by 201 House Democrats, urged McConnell to end the attempts to shut down the NLRB. Reps. Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.) and Joe Courtney (D-Conn.) organized the event. They were joined by Reps. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and Bill Foster (D-Ill.), all of whom spoke of the importance of a functioning NLRB.

At a separate meeting organized on July 10 by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, members of Congress, workers and union leaders also voiced support for efforts to guarantee the NLRB’s ability to protect workers’ rights. Panera Bread employee Kathleen Von Eitzen described how the NLRB’s inability to enforce labor laws had enabled a Panera franchisee in Battle Creek, Mich., to illegally retaliate against workers who had tried to join a union: one was fired, the workload for all bakers was significantly increased with no increase in staff, performance reviews were skewed and merit raises and bonuses were unfairly denied. Despite an NLRB ruling in the workers’ favor, the case is stuck in legal limbo, awaiting the confirmation of additional NLRB nominees.


The officers and crew of five MM&P-contracted vessels operated by International Shipholding Corp. (ISH) have received awards for safety achievement. The officers and crew of the SULPHUR ENTERPRISE and the GREEN RIDGE, which each had a perfect record of zero accidents, injuries or illnesses in 2012, have received the Annual Flagship Safety Award, which is presented to the vessels with the best all-around safety record in the fleet. The GREEN DALE and the GREEN COVE have been given the Safety Excellence Award. The GREEN BAY has been awarded the Best Safety Practice Award. A spokesperson for ISH congratulated the officers and crew aboard all the company’s vessels for their efforts to promote safe practices and “a safety culture.”


MM&P has joined the 19 other unions that make up the Federal Workers Alliance (FWA) in calling on Congress to restore funding to the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA), the agency charged with maintaining effective labor-management relations in the federal government. In a July 9 letter to the leaders of the Senate Appropriations Committee and its Subcommittee on Financial Services & Government, the FWA unions, which collectively represent more than 300,000 federal workers, urged legislators to fund the FLRA at the full amount requested by President Obama for fiscal year 2014.

“The FLRA may be small, but it is a critical agency for the federal workforce and the functioning of federal agencies,” the unions wrote. “It has been woefully underfunded in recent years, and a shrinking FLRA staff comes at the worst possible time since shrinking budgets and increased workload demands on federal employees tend to increase demands on the FLRA.”

The FLRA is responsible for making sure that when collective bargaining disputes arise, they are resolved quickly, cost-effectively and in the public interest. The FLRA also provides valuable training resources to help labor and management resolve disputes without having to use the formal legal process. Since 2004, the agency’s budget has been cut by approximately 35 percent and its staff has been reduced by a similar proportion, from 184 employees to 123. “This critical agency is struggling to find the necessary resources to function,” the FWA unions wrote.


The 2013-2014 midterm Congressional election cycle is in full swing, and a number of senators and representatives who support our industry are facing serious, well-financed challenges. Many of these members of Congress–Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives–have worked with us to preserve the Jones Act, to fund the Maritime Security Program and to save the PL 480 food aid program and its U.S.-flag shipping requirement.  These members of Congress stand with us and support us at every turn. It is now important for us to stand with them and give them the support they need to run a successful reelection campaign.

To support the legislators who stand with us, each MM&P active and retired member and employee should make a contribution to the MM&P PCF as quickly as possible. The attacks against our industry show no sign of letting up. Our success and our jobs are directly dependent on those who know and understand the importance of a strong U.S.-flag maritime industry to our nation’s economic, military and homeland security and who are willing to fight for the U.S.-flag merchant marine and for our jobs.  It is essential that each of us support the MM&P PCF to the maximum degree possible so that we in turn can support our friends and supporters in Congress. 

If you need more information about the MM&P PCF, please go to or send an e-mail to


Please be sure that MM&P has your current address on file, as well as your e-mail address and cell phone number. If your address has recently changed, or if you have not yet given MM&P your e-mail address and cell phone number, please send an e-mail to that includes your full name, MM&P membership group and complete contact information.


There will be a union meeting at the MM&P Norfolk Hall on Wednesday, July 17, at 1200 hours. MM&P President Don Marcus will attend the membership meeting at the Charleston Hall scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 14, at 1100 hours.


The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) will no longer allow employees to make Post-56 Military Service deposits after separation. Employees who have active duty military service after Dec. 31, 1956, should work with their servicing Benefits Specialist to ensure that they are making the right decision regarding their Military Service.

Background: The CSRS and FERS Handbook, Chapter 23, section 23A3.1-1, advises agencies that if an employee intends to make a Post-1956 Military Service deposit at separation, the employee must promptly obtain basic pay information and complete the deposit to the agency before OPM completes adjudication of the retirement claim. OPM has determined that this guidance is out of date. OPM is revising its guidance to specify that payment of the Military Service deposit must be completed prior to separation from the agency except in the case of an administrative error that prevented the employee from completing the deposit.

OPM has already updated the retirement application for CSRS and FERS to clearly state that the deposit must be completed before separation, therefore, no exceptions will be granted by OPM. Employees must be informed of the correct procedures regarding the payment of military deposits prior to separation from federal service. You can visit or contact MM&P Government Fleet Representative Randi Ciszewski,, for more information.


The 2006 Maritime Labor Convention (MLC) will enter into force on Aug. 20, 2013.  It has been described as the fourth pillar of international shipping regulations along with SOLAS, MARPOL and STCW.  The International Labor Organization consolidated a number of previous conventions in MLC 2006. It establishes minimum standards on conditions of employment, accommodations, health and safety, medical care, crew welfare, recruitment, working conditions and social security protection. MLC will be strictly enforced during port state control inspections, including the potential for more detailed inspections and possible detention where hazardous conditions may exist if ships are not to be in compliance. Visit for more information or to register for the MLC course.


NOTE:  New Dedicated Fax Line for Admissions Only:  Fax: 1-443-568-1928, all other MITAGS business should continue to use:  410-859-5181.

Between now and the end of September, the following courses are scheduled at MITAGS.  Please be advised that the schedule is subject to change.  For class availability or info on MITAGS courses and programs, contact Kelly Michielli, Admissions Coordinator, toll-free at 866-656-5568 or Email: Or, try our on-line calendar to register for class:

AB – 8/19/13

ARPA – Automated Radar Plotting Aids: 8/13/13, 9/24/13

AZIPOD (2-DAY) for Pilots: 7/22/13

BRM – Bridge Resource Management: 8/26/13

BRMP – Bridge Resource Management for Pilots:  8/19/13, 9/23/13

BST – Basic Safety Training: 8/12/13

CONSTB – Ship Construction and Basic Stability: 7/29/13

[CMM – Chief Mate and Master Courses]

CMM-ADVWX – Advanced Meteorology: 9/23/13

CMM-ADVNAV – Advanced Navigation (=ECDIS & VPEN): 9/9/13

CMM-ADVSTB – Advanced Stability: 8/5/13

CMM-CHS – Advanced Cargo Operations (2 weeks): 8/12/13

CMM-ECDIS – Electronic Chart Display Information System: 7/29/13, 9/9/13

CMM-MPP – Marine Propulsion Plants: 8/26/13

CMM-SHMGT – Ship Management (2 weeks): 7/22/13

CMM-SHS-ADV-I – Advanced Shiphandling (week 1): 9/9/13, 9/23/13

CMM-SHS-ADV-I I – Advanced Shiphandling (week 2): 8/5/13, 9/16/13, 9/30/13

CMM-VPEN – 9/16/13

CMM-WKP – Advanced Watchkeeping: 9/30/13

ENVIRO-Regs Permit – Environmental Regulations Permit: 8/26/13

FSM – Fatigue, Sleep and Medications:  8/27/13

FF-BADV – Combined Basic and Advanced Fire Fighting: 7/22/13, 8/12/13

FF-ADV – 7/22/13

GMDSS – Global Maritime Distress and Safety System: 7/8/13, 8/19/13

HAZ – Hazardous Materials (5 day): 9/16/13

LAP – License Advancement Program for C/Mate & Master: 9/23/13

LAP-ORG3rd – License Advancement Program for Original 3rd Mate, Oceans, Any Gross Ton License: 8/5/13

LEG – Legal Aspects of Pilotage: 7/24/13, 9/25/13

MCL – Management, Communications and Leadership: 8/19/13

MCL OICNW –Management, Communications, and Leadership OICNW level: 9/3/13

MEDIA-RSP – Media Response Workshop:  7/26/13

MED-PIC – Medical Person in Charge: 9/9/13

MED-PIC -R– Medical Person in Charge Refresher: 7/29/13

MED-PRO – Medical Care Provider: 9/9/13

MED-DOT-DA – Dept. of Transportation Drug & Alcohol Testing: 7/28/13, 8/17/13, 9/14/13

MSC -SMA – Military Sealift Command Small Arms Qualification: 8/19/13, 9/30/13

MSC-DC – Military Sealift Command Damage Control (4 Evenings): 8/19/13, 9/30/13

MSC-CBRD-1 – Military Sealift Command Chemical, Biological, Radiological Defense Orientation (Basic): 8/23/13, 10/4/13

ROR-1N – Radar Observer Renewal Evening Classes: 7/10/13, 7/24/13, 8/1/13, 8/14/13, 8/28/13, 9/11/13, 9/18/13

ROR-1 – Radar Observer Renewal: 8/12/13, 9/23/13

ROP-5 – Radar Observer Original and Renewal: 8/5/13

SEC-VSO – Vessel Security Officer: 7/22/13, 9/4/13

SHS-BAS – Basic Shiphandling: 8/12/13

SHS-EMR5 – Emergency Shiphandling: 8/19/13

SHS-ESH-BRMP3 – Emergency Shiphandling and Bridge Resource Management for Pilots: 7/24/13

TCNAV/CO – Terrestrial Navigation and Compasses: 7/8/13

TPIC – Tankerman Person in Charge:  8/26/13

WX-BAS – Basic Meteorology: 7/29/13, 9/16/13

… 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.


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

July 2013

22-26     Bridge Resource Management w/ Simulation
29-2       Medical Care Provider

August 2013

5-16       Celestial Navigation
6-7          Successful Safety Management Systems Workshop
12th       Radar Renewal 
12th       Med DOT
12-23     GMDSS
19-23     Medical Care Provider
20th       RFPNW Assessments
26-30     ECDIS
26-30     Basic Cargo Handling and Stowage