Wheelhouse Weekly – July 18, 2002

July 18th 2002


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

Volume 6. . . . . Number 29. . . July 18, 2002






Highlighting a theme of growing cooperation between maritime unions along with the need to renew and expand the Maritime Security Program (MSP), the presidents of three seagoing unions addressed the delegates and guests of the MM&P’s 79th Convention held at the MITAGS Conference Center earlier this week.

Seafarers International Union President Michael Sacco, who spoke on the first day of the convention, said that teamwork among the maritime unions is a major reason why Congress held a hearing this week on a new Maritime Security Program. He credited MM&P President Capt. Tim Brown as being a major stabilizing force who has contributed much to a new era of mutually beneficial working relationships among maritime unions.

Close working relations between unions is critical, “if we’re going to truly revitalize the US-flag fleet. The first domino in that effort is an extended, expanded MSP program,” Sacco said.

The SIU President noted that the MSP has proven to be economically efficient, providing the government with access to nearly 50 modern, militarily useful vessels that can support national security. The MSP program has also helped maintain a pool of skilled mariners who will be needed to crew the government-owned strategic sealift ships in times of conflict.

“At $100 million per year, I’ll argue with anyone that the MSP program is a damn good deal for the government. And there are plenty of people in Congress and the military who agree,” Sacco told the convention attendees.

His comments on the need for cooperation between unions were echoed by Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association President Ron Davis who addressed the delegates on Wednesday morning. “Just as our members work together on vessels across the globe, the MEBA and MM&P are working together in Washington to see that our future will once again be bright and assured.”

Noting that the MM&P and MEBA work together on a majority of the MSP ships, Davis called for the program to be expanded and improved. “I testified, together with the MM&P’s Mike Rodriguez on behalf of Capt. Brown, before Congress yesterday that this program is critical to our survival. Working together, we will see the MSP reauthorized and improved.”

Speaking of some opportunities both unions are working on together Davis said, “I want to first thank the MM&P for taking the lead in bringing to the US-flag a cruise ship revitalization program, that if successful, will provide jobs for both MM&P and MEBA members.” He told the delegates that, “The proposal to build ships in Baltimore and operate cruise vessels in Hawaii with our members is truly exciting.”

Sailors Union of the Pacific President Gunnar Lundeberg, who also attended the MSP hearing, visited the convention and spoke of the need for continuing cooperation between the maritime unions in order to build legislative support for a new and improved MSP. “On MSP, Maritime Administrator William Schubert recently quoted Ben Franklin, ‘we must all hang together or we will surely hang separately.'”

Lundeberg said that “to succeed in Congress against the enemies of maritime, there must be near-perfect harmony within the industry on MSP.” He further stated that, “If we are not united, we could get amended legislation that would open the door to foreign seamen on US-flag ships, and then it’s “last one out, turn off the lights.”


MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly




Mike Rodriguez, Executive Assistant to MM&P President Capt. Tim Brown, testified at a hearing of the House Armed Services Committee Special Merchant Marine Oversight Panel regarding US ownership and control of vessels operating in the Maritime Security Program earlier this week.

Rodriguez offered testimony on behalf of MM&P President Capt. Tim Brown who was chairing the MM&P Biennial Convention at MITAGS. He was part of a panel of witnesses representing US seagoing labor which included MEBA President Ron Davis, SIU President Mike Sacco and AMO President Michael McKay

In a joint statement, the four unions called for the MSP to be extended for at least 20 years beyond its present expiration date of Sept.30, 2005. The program should be expanded to a fleet of at least 60 vessels from the present 47. Current annual ship payment of $2.1 million, which has remained constant since the inception of the program, should be increased to $3.5 million.

The joint statement also called for the MSP to be amended to reflect the current ownership of US-flag vessels, consistent with, to the fullest extent practical, the existing priority system for awarding operating agreements and the overall interests of the Dept. of Defense.

Among the points that Rodriguez emphasized to the panel is that reauthorization of the MSP is extremely important to the MM&P which represents licensed officers working aboard 37 of the 47 US-flag vessels enrolled in the program. The MSP represents the most significant component of MM&P’s US-flag foreign trade commercial fleet.

“After the tragic events of 9/11, we must be more vigilant about the threats posed to the US by the carriage of cargo from overseas locations. To the MM&P, the only real security is the security that comes with the operation of US-flag vessels crewed by US citizens as guaranteed by the MSP,” Rodriguez told the panel.


MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



Rear Admiral David Brewer, Commander of the Military Sealift Command, told MM&P convention delegates, members and guests that improvements in the areas of manpower and force protection are the two main goals of his command.

He said the MSC is akin to a $2.2 billion business operation with 115 vessels and 8,500 employees of which 70 percent serve afloat as either federal civil service mariners (CIVMARS) or commercial mariners working for the ship operating companies under contract to MSC.

The admiral said the war on terrorism’s “Operation Enduring Freedom” is potentially the most wide-ranging military campaign since World War II.

MSC is concerned about the availability of mariners. A full-scale activation would require 13,891 mariners.

In response to a question on the Service Contract Act, Brewer noted the need for contract balancing and program rate equity.

Admiral Brewer said that one of the first things he noticed upon taking over as the new MSC Commander was that the MSC was undermanned and that he recognized there was room for improvement on personnel issues such as leave.

He said when it came to leadership styles, he was committed to being a “ladder builder” rather than a “ladder climber”. He described a ladder builder as one who helps create success in others whereas a ladder climber walks over people on the way up. For the “climbers”, they often find out that the higher you climb, the harder you fall.

As a ladder builder, he intends to build a more professional CIVMAR force by enlarging leadership and management training opportunities. He has already discussed working more with the MM&P in this regard.

After his presentation, Admiral Brewer and his staff were taken on an executive tour of the MITAGS training facility, including the new full-mission simulator.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Richard Trumka gave a rousing presentation to delegates at the MM&P convention saying that the current corporate crime wave highlighted by the collapse of Enron and WorldCom and its damaging effect with the tanking of the stock market has caused millions to lose billions.

He said that it is loosening the federal legislative logjam and turning into the predominant issue for the fall elections. “All the polls are showing that corporate CEOs are on the top of the voters’ bad list, and people are scared to death about where the economy is going.”

Trumka noted that one of the great benefits union members enjoy is that about 70 percent of unionized workers have defined benefit pensions, as contrasted to 16 percent for nonunion workers.

With the collapse of 401(k) plans, workers are finding out the difference between pension plans. With defined benefit pensions, all risk is with the employer. With defined contribution plans, the risk is with the individual.

During his speech, Trumka made the following observations:

“This will be the first time voters go to the polls since George W. Bush was elected. This is the time for working families to make their voices heard in response to this administration being too cozy with corporate America.

“Bush is steering us down a road paved with crony capitalism and market manipulation, corporate tax breaks, privatization and deregulation. It’s a road marked with contempt for those of us who work hard and play by the rules, with disrespect for the working families who built our nation and our economy.

“It is our duty to mount the most aggressive political effort in the history of our movement and replace elected officials who are corporate puppets with men and women who support working families and our unions.”

Trumka cited the need for labor law reform that includes the elimination of exclusions for supervisors in the maritime industry as well as protecting workers’ rights to choose union representation aimed at stopping abuses and scare tactics which companies increasingly employ to defeat union organizing efforts.

Rather than work for meaningful reform, Trumka cited how the Secretary of Labor’s number one priority is to rewrite the LM-2 rules for labor unions to make them much more difficult to comply with. AFL-CIO’s LM-2s alone would require 75,000 entries and be 20 ft high. Regulations so repressive that unions couldn’t comply.

“On Nov.5 we can say the country is going in the wrong direction and set things straight. Unions might be the only voice left for social and economic justice. It is time to demand more of politicians and to hold them more accountable,” Trumka said.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



David Schock of the Segal Company, MM&P Plan actuaries, whose expertise is on union multi-employer health plans, said that while the MM&P Health Plan is one of the best in the country, the next several years will be as difficult as anything that has happened in the last 25 years for all health plans.

Prescription costs are rising about 20 percent per year, which is unlike anything that has occurred in the past. Their research shows that the primary reason for that climb is that consumers are making a choice for a more expensive drug over a more inexpensive one that can provide the same care. Also some expensive new drug therapies have replaced surgical procedures.

All areas of health care from the costs of PPO plans to hospitalization costs are increasing around 15 percent per year. One of the main reasons for this is that the government has cut payments for Medicare and Medicaid.

Health plans across the country are paying more for the same services. It is clear that measures must be taken to get costs under control.

Schock’s remarks were followed by Plans Administrator Valerie Verrecchio who said, “David has certainly painted a realistic, but disturbing portrait of what the future of employee health benefits look like.”

The good news is that, “in a time of seeming chaos and uncertainty, the Plans continue to provide the membership with an uncommon level of benefits. In fact, when Segal was asked to find a comparable Plan and what it would cost in the market place, they reported that there is no comparable Plan.”

In response to this national healthcare cost crises as it affects the MM&P Plan, Verrecchio said, “the Board of Trustees at their June Meeting made a commitment to working with our Plan consultants and the Plan Office to develop cost containment measures that will help preserve the Plan with the least pain to our membership.”

Plan members saved over $2 million in 2001 by using First Health providers and hospitals. The Plan saved over $1.6 million. “I will share with you one hospital bill from a First Health PPO facility. The original bill was for $193,050 for an extended stay in a catastrophic case. The negotiated rate with First Health was $18,450. The savings was $175,600. Can you imagine? The family had to pay nothing rather than 20% of $193,050. The Plan saved and the participant saved. A win-win situation,” Verrecchio said.

In 2001, the Plan paid out $33,548,644 in benefits on behalf of the membership. Prescription drugs, the largest single expense category under the Plan, accounted for $8.1 million of this expense. This year, the Plan is projected to spend $10.8 million based on the first six month’s numbers. That is an increase of 25 percent.

“The Board will be reviewing different co-pay scenarios that may help reduce Plan expenses and may have to consider some type of formulary approach to certain classification of drugs,” Verrecchio said.

Upcoming editions of the Wheelhouse Weekly and the Master, Mate & Pilot newspaper will include reports on these and other presentations as well as resolutions which were adopted at the 79th Biennial Convention.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



Members have recently received the Shipping Rules Ballot. Please do not vote this ballot as it is incorrect.

The ballot should have contained 16 shipping rules questions and one work rule question. The ballot incorrectly contained 13 shipping rule questions and one proposed work rule change.

A new ballot will be mailed shortly. For any questions, contact MM&P International Comptroller John Gorman at or 410-850-8700 x12.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



MM&P has established a Fund to receive donations on behalf of Gisele Schmidt, the daughter of Brother Gary Schmidt. Gisele, who is 21, was rendered a paraplegic as the result of a tragic auto accident in March.

Contributions may be made payable to the Gisele Schmidt Fund and should be mailed in care of MM&P, 700 Maritime Blvd., Linthicum Heights, MD 21090.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



For the latest up-to-date info on class schedules, trust student policies and procedures, and regulatory changes, visit the MITAGS website at Schedule through December 2002 is being maintained on the website. For additional course info, contact Debbie Walton at voice: 443-989-3226 or Email:

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



For the latest up-to-date info on class schedules, visit the newly updated PMI website at


MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



 D O W

 N A S D A Q


-271.10 for the week


 +51.24 for the week
 Vanguard 500 Index Fund (VFINX)


 Vanguard Extended Market Index Fund (VEXMX)


 Vanguard International Growth Fund (VWIGX)


 Vanguard Morgan Growth Fund (VMRGX)


 Vanguard Windsor II Fund (VWNFX)


 Vanguard GNMA Fund (VFIIX)


 Chase Growth Fund (CHASX)


 Fidelity Asset Manager (FASMX)


 Fidelity Growth and Income (FGRIX)


Fidelity Magellan Fund (FAGX)


 Spartan US Equity Index Fund (FUSEX)



MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly

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 contact John Peige at The Wheelhouse Weekly is sent via Email to MM&P-contracted vessels at sea, broadcast worldwide via FEC marine telex andis posted on our web page.

Return to Top