News

Wheelhouse Weekly – June 21, 2011

June 21st 2011

 

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

Volume 15 . . . . . Number 25. . . . June 21, 2011

STORIES COVERED

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


MM&P CLOSED ON JULY 4

All MM&P union halls, the MM&P Health & Benefit Plan Office, MM&P headquarters and the MM&P Federal Credit Union will be closed on July 4 for Independence Day.


COAST GUARD MEDICAL REVIEW PROCESS STILL TOO SLOW, MARINERS SAY

MM&P continues to receive complaints from members who say they are waitingan inordinate amount of time–much longer than under the previous system andmuch longer than mariners in many other countries–for Coast Guard review oftheir medical evaluations.

The Coast Guard has regularly published statistics on its medical review process since a 14,000-application backlog three years ago sparked widespread protests and several Congressional hearings. But the published data do not consider what the agency calls “time waiting for information from mariners,” and this is apparently where most of the problem lies.

“When the mariner’s medical evaluation reveals the existence of any condition at all, the Coast Guard kicks it back to the mariner and starts a dialogue,” says MM&P Pilots Group Vice President George Quick. Once the agency begins asking for additional medical tests and exams, “there’s no way of knowing when it will end,” Quick says.

MM&P has advocated a system that is prevalent in other industrialized countries such as the United Kingdom, where a network of physicians is responsible for mariners’ medical reviews. Under the Coast Guard’s current system, the medical information is reviewed by National Maritime Center employees in West Virginia who have no direct contact with the people whose documents they are reviewing.

“The Coast Guard’s medical review standards are unworkable and unmanageable,” Quick says. As a consequence, he says, “if a mariner has any medical condition at all, he or she should begin the document renewal process six months to one year in advance of when the document is actually going to be needed.”

Quick also advises mariners with “any medical condition at all” to include a letter from a physician stating that he has evaluated the condition found it manageable.

The ILO Maritime Medical Review Standards will take effect in January 2012 and the United States is required to comply. MM&P is a strong supporter of the new ILO standards and believes that their introduction will bring about an improvement in processing times for mariners in the United States, if the U.S. Coast Guard applies a reasonable interpretation of the provisions in the ILO Maritime Labor Convention.


MEMBERS OF KEY HOUSE SUBCOMMITTEE REITERATE SUPPORT FOR JONES ACT

The movement of waterborne cargo sustains more than 13 million jobs in the United States and contributes over $212 billion in annual federal, state, and local taxes. These and other statistics that demonstrate the importance of maritime to our nation’s economy were discussed at a June 14 hearing of the House Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation. Subcommittee Chair Frank LoBiondo called the hearing to review the state of the marine transportation system (MTS) and explore ways to enhance it to create jobs, improve the flow of commerce and increase exports.

“The MTS is a vast resource that facilitates our robust maritime commerce,” LoBiondo says. “Domestic shipping alone is responsible for over half a million American jobs and $100 billion in annual economic output. Ongoing maintenance and improvements to the MTS are essential to any effort to create jobs and expand exports.” 

During the hearing, members of the subcommittee repeatedly voiced support for the Jones Act, the body of U.S. maritime law that requires that goods and passengers moving between two points in the United States be carried only on U.S.-flagged, U.S.-crewed, U.S.-owned and U.S.-built vessels.

This is “something I strongly support,” LoBiondo said. “I hear rumors from time to time about ideas or suggestions that can be advanced, either legislatively or otherwise, that would dramatically change or weaken the Jones Act. I can assure you that as chair of this subcommittee, I’ll do everything in my power not to allow that to happen.”

Also voicing support for the Jones Act was Minnesota Congressman Chip Cravaack: “Being a retired Navy Captain, I understand the importance of a maritime industry and how important it is to have a U.S.-flag, U.S.-crewed vessel ensuring that when we do have to go over the horizon we have the proper assets to do it; with the proper people that have been trained in a way that we need to make sure they’ll be able to carry the flag when rubber starts hitting the road. So I highly support U.S.-flag vessels and the Jones Act as well.”

Rep. Mazie Hirono, a strong supporter of the U.S.-flag maritime industry, seized the opportunity to underline for the record the fact that in Hawaii, Jones Act activities provide 23,000 jobs and approximately $1.1 billion in wages and benefits.


THE BATTLE RAGES ON: HELP MM&P DEFEND YOUR JOB!

Choosing sound policy over sound bites, the House of Representatives last week turned back numerous attempts to wipe-out the PL 480 Food for Peace Program and with it, the hundreds of thousands of American jobs that benefit from this buy-and-ship American humanitarian program.

Thanks in no small measure to MM&P’s friends and supporters in Congress, the misguided amendments offered to the Department of Agriculture funding bill were all defeated by wide margins. Our friends in both parties argued that this program and its related U.S.-flag shipping requirements keep Americans working. They pointed out that eliminating the Food for Peace Program would cost Americans their jobs, worsen our country’s already severe unemployment problem and further weaken our economy.

It is critical that each and every MM&P member support our union’s Political Contribution Fund (PCF) so we can continue to help elect individuals who put American jobs first and who understand the importance of our industry to the nation’s economic and military security. Let’s all do our part. Standing together, we can make a difference and keep American maritime jobs in the United States.


NOL WILL BUILD NEW CONTAINERSHIPS FOR APL

The NOL Group last week signed an agreement to build 12 new containerships in two South Korean shipyards, Hyundai Samho Heavy Industries and Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine. Ten of the ships will be 14,000 TEUs; the other two will be 9,200 TEUs. All the ships will be built to the highest standards of fuel efficiency, the company says. NOL will pay approximately $1.54 billion for the 12 new ships and for upgrades to last year’s order with Daewoo Shipyard for ten 8,400-TEU ships. NOL said the largest of the new ships will be employed in its Asia-Europe trade, and the 9,200-TEU vessels will probably be deployed in the Trans-Pacific trade. The ships are scheduled for delivery in 2013 and 2014.


MM&P, MEBA AND IBU MEMBERS RATIFY AGREEMENT WITH CONNOLLY-PACIFIC

MM&P members at Connolly-Pacific Co. have ratified a new three-year agreement. The members of the Inland Boatmen’s Union (IBU) and the Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association (MEBA) have also ratified their own separate agreements with the company. “The negotiations, which were carried out by all three unions and management at the same time, lasted four months,” reports MM&P UIG Regional Representative Ray Shipway. “Capt. Ollie Schugut, Capt. Tony Victoria and Capt. Dan Montgomery were all present at different meetings and each contributed to a successful outcome,” Shipway says.

The three unions asked Shipway to chair the union side of the negotiations with the company. “I enjoyed working with our new MEBA Branch Agent Bob Madden in Los Angeles and our long-time ally, IBU Regional Director John Skow,” Shipway says. “My thanks to all who participated.”


MAERSK LINE CEO SEES CHANGES AHEAD FOR SHIPPING INDUSTRY

In the not-too-distant future, ocean shippers should easily be able to use high-tech systems to book containers, according to Maersk Line CEO Eivind Kolding. In addition, he says, new technologies will increasingly be used to reduce the environmental impact of ocean transport and make each carrier’s ecological “footprint” transparent to the public for purposes of comparison shopping. Kolding made the remarks in an exclusive interview with Journal of Commerce Editor Peter T. Leach. The article was published in the June 23 edition of The Journal of Commerce Online under the name “Maersk Line CEO Explains Details of Manifesto.”

Kolding first outlined his vision of the future in a June 7 interview in which he called for radical changes in the way ocean carriers and shippers conduct their business. Kolding said he was making the remarks in an attempt to move negotiations between the two groups “beyond the focus on freight rates and shift it to a competition based on service, reliability, and the lowest environmental impact on supply chains.” He said in the future, large and medium-sized shippers should be able to book in rates for three years.

He urged the industry to develop technology that would enable shippers to easily book space for shipping containers over the Internet, instruct carriers on the requirements for the shipment and then change instruction as conditions change.


OBAMA ADMINISTRATION AND BUSINESS LEADERS LAUNCH NEW JOBS INITIATIVE

President Obama last week signed an Executive Order creating SelectUSA, a new government-wide initiative intended to attract international business operations to the United States as a way to spur economic growth and job creation. The Obama Administration developed the program together with the Business Roundtable and a number of multinational companies.
 
“To encourage foreign firms to do business and U.S. firms to keep their business here in America,” the President said, “SelectUSA will address federal-level investment barriers, highlight the United States as the premier place to do business and target foreign and domestic firms that could potentially seek to expand in the United States.”

The initiative will be supported by a website, www.SelectUSA.gov, which offers government-wide information on federal programs and services relevant to companies that invest in the United States. 
 
A team of Administration officials expert in international business will spearhead the effort and liaison between potential investors and U.S. state and federal agencies to help eliminate investment barriers for companies looking to invest and locate in the United States. The group will encompass a Federal Interagency Investment Working group to ensure that all government agencies work together to cut government red tape and make the United States an appealing destination for businesses. 
 
“This initiative is a direct response to concerns the Administration has heard from the business community,” Obama said in an official statement. “And we are proud to be leading this effort that will help drive economic growth in cities and communities across America.”


WISCONSIN STATE SUPREME COURT RULES IN FAVOR OF ANTI-COLLECTIVE BARGAINING LAW

By a 4-3 vote last week, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled in favor of legislation advanced by Republican Governor Scott Walker to end collective bargaining rights for public sector workers in the state. The Supreme Court ruling overturns a decision made by a County Circuit Judge in March which voided the measure for violating the Open Meetings Law.

Immediately after the Supreme Court vote, the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO and a coalition of unions filed a federal lawsuit to halt implementation of the law. In a written statement, the unions said the bill violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution by stripping away basic rights to bargain, organize and associate for the purpose of engaging in union activity. The suit also contends that it is a violation of the Constitution for a legislature to discriminate among classes of public employees, particularly when doing so does not advance legitimate policy objectives but instead simply rewards political allies and punishes political opponents.

While the suit seeks to halt the collective bargaining provision of the law, it does not seek to enjoin the increased pension and health insurance requirements for public employees contained in the bill. “Public sector unions have made it clear from day one that Wisconsin workers would do their part to share in the sacrifice and keep our state moving forward,” said a spokesman for the state AFL-CIO. “The lawsuit only seeks to preserve the basic right to bargain and freely associate.”


NEW JERSEY WORKERS PROTEST BILL TO END COLLECTIVE BARGAINING OVER HEALTH BENEFITS

Thousands of people protested for several days at the New Jersey Statehouse in Trenton last week against legislation that would eliminate public employee collective bargaining rights over health care benefits.

“Only through collective bargaining do workers have a voice, and those who vote for this legislation will be voting to silence the voices of approximately 500,000 workers,” said New Jersey State AFL-CIO President Charles Wowkanech. “Middle class workers are being blamed for the current negative economic conditions, which were created by the greed of Wall Street profiteers and CEOs,” said Wowkanech, who was arrested in the course of a June 16 protest along with 24 others.

Roughly 500,000 New Jersey public sector workers would be affected by the change, which sponsors say is aimed at making up for pension and health care programs that are underfunded by a combined total of $110 billion. Labor unions point out, however, that the shortfall in pension and health care funds was created by state officials who applied the money toward the general fund over the years to limit property tax increases.

“The plan put forward is not about saving money, as indicated by the treasury’s testimony today of a saving of only $10 million the first year, but about destroying public workers rights to collectively bargain for fair wages, health care benefits and pensions,” Assemblywoman Connie Wagner told a New Jersey newspaper, the Cliffview Pilot, in an interview outside the statehouse door. “The unions put forward a plan that would have saved much more money in its first year and was put forward at the collective bargaining table where it should take place,” Wagner said. The New Jersey State Assembly Budget Committee will consider the anti-collective bargaining bill on Thursday, June 23.

New Jersey Republican Governor Chris Christie sponsored the anti-bargaining legislation himself and has campaigned statewide in its favor. At the June 16 protest, the governor, who has come under criticism for using a state police helicopter, at a cost of $2,000 per hour, to fly to his son’s baseball game, was lambasted by workers carrying signs that read, “Left my helicopter at home.”

If you live in New Jersey, take action: call your local legislators and tell them to support collective bargaining rights for public sector workers.


TWO AIRCRAFT PILOTS IMPRISONED IN SOMALIA FOR DELIVERING RANSOM PAYMENTS

A U.S. pilot, a British pilot and four others have been sentenced to prison terms by a Somali court for bringing money into the country to pay ransoms without having the proper papers. The two pilots were each sentenced to 15 years in prison and a $15,000 fine. It was the first time Westerners have been sentenced for involvement in ransom payments. An American diplomat who spoke on condition of anonymity said discussions were under way to reduce or overturn the sentences, possibly in exchange for a payment to the Somali authorities.


PIRATES ATTACK SHIP THAT HAD JUST BEEN RANSOMED

MV SUEZ, a Panama-flagged Egyptian cargo ship, was reportedly attacked by Somali pirates shortly after its owners had paid a $2.1 million ransom to secure its release from hijackers who had seized it in August of last year. The 22 crewmembers said that after being released from captivity, they were targeted by rocket fire from four skiffs as they sailed to a port in Oman. No injuries were reported in the recent attack, although officials say that most of the crewmembers are in poor health and suffering from malnutrition. The mariners said that during the months in which they were held hostage, they subsisted primarily on rice and rainwater.

In related news, pirates on June 9 released the Chinese cargo ship MV YUAN XIANG. The Chinese cargo vessel had been held for 207 day after being hijacked on Nov. 13 of last year, approximately 650 nautical miles East of Salalah. The vessel reportedly had a crew of 29. There was no information on their condition.


SCHEDULE FOR 2011 OFFSHORE DIVISION ORIENTATION COURSE

The Offshore Division Orientation Course, formerly called the D-Book Membership Course, will be held at regular intervals throughout 2011.

The schedule is as follows (but please note that course dates may change depending on the number of participants who sign up): Oct. 13-14 in Los Angeles/Long Beach; Oct. 21-22 at MM&P headquarters in Linthicum Heights; and Nov. 8-9 in New Orleans.

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 Mary Seidman at mseidman@bridgedeck.org.


ENVIRONMENTAL GROUPS IN CHARLESTON SUE CARNIVAL CRUISE LINES FOR POLLUTION

Community activists in South Carolina have filed suit against Carnival Cruise Lines for allegedly fouling the waters of the port. The suit was brought by Coastal Conservation League and two neighborhood community groups. In the suit, the groups charge that Carnival is generating pollution in the heart of the historic district, polluting the air, causing traffic jams and discharging wastes into South Carolina waters without a permit.


DERELICT VESSEL GROUNDS ON MUMBAI BEACH

MV WISDOM, a derelict ship being towed to the Alang ship breaking yard, broke free from a tug in rough weather last week and ran aground on Mumbai’s Juhu beach. Repeated attempts to free the ship have been unsuccessful. The authorities said that at this point they planned to wait three weeks before making another attempt.


MITAGS ACADEMIC NOTES

Between now and the end of September 2011, the following courses are scheduled at MITAGS.  For class availability or information on MITAGS courses and programs, contact Kelly Michielli, Admissions Coordinator, toll free at 866-656-5568 or e-mail: admissions@mitags.org.

AB – Able Bodied Seaman: 8/22

ARPA � Automated Radar Plotting Aids: 9/27
AZIPOD (2-DAY) for Pilots: 7/25, 7/28

BRM � Bridge Resource Management: 9/26
BST – Basic Safety Training: 6/27, 8/15

[CMM – Chief Mate and Master Courses]
CMM-ADVWX � Advanced Meteorology: 9/12
CMM-ADVSTB � Advanced Stability: 6/27
CMM-CHS I � Advanced Cargo Operations (week 1): 7/11
CMM-CHS II � Advanced Cargo Operations (week 2): 7/18
CMM-ECDIS � Electronic Chart Display and Information Systems: 8/15
CMM-MPP � Marine Propulsion Plants: 8/8
CMM-SHMGT I – Ship Management (week 1): 7/25, 9/19
CMM-SHMGT II – Ship Management (week 2): 8/1, 9/26
CMM-SHS-ADV-I � Advanced Shiphandling (week 1): 7/11, 8/22, 9/12, 9/26
CMM-SHS-ADV-I I � Advanced Shiphandling (week 2): 7/18, 8/15, 9/19
CMM-VPEN � Voyage Planning and Electronic Navigation: 8/22
CMM-WKP � Advanced Watchkeeping: 8/29

CONT PLNG � Contingency Planning: 7/29
CHS BAS � Basic Cargo Handing and Stowage: 8/8

ECDIS-ENAV (2 DAY) for Pilots: 7/25
ENAV � Electronic Navigation: 9/12
ENVIRO-Regs Permit � Environmental Regulations Permit: 8/29

FF-BADV � Combined Basic and Advanced Fire Fighting: 6/27, 8/15
FSM � Fatique, Sleep and Medications for Pilots: 7/27

GMDSS � Global Maritime Distress and Safety System: 8/22

HAZ � Hazardous Materials (5 day): 8/22

LEG – Legal Aspects of Pilotage: 9/12
LFBT-LTD � Lifeboatman Limited: 8/20
LNG Awar-4 � Liquefied Natural Gases Awareness (4 Day): 8/1

MCL – Management, Communications and Leadership: 9/12
MEDIA-RSP � Media Response Workshop: 7/28
MED-PIC – Medical Person In Charge: 8/1
MED-PIC -R� Medical Person In Charge Refresher: 9/12
MED-PRO – Medical Care Provider: 8/1
MED-DOT-DA – Dept. of Transportation Drug & Alcohol Testing: 8/6

MSC-CBRD1 � Basic Chemical, Biological, Radiological Defense: 8/12
MSC-DC � Damage Control: 8/8
MSC -SMA � Military Sealift Command Small Arms Qualification: 8/8

ROR-1 – Radar Observer Renewal Evening Classes: 6/28, 7/20, 7/27, 8/18, 9/14
ROR-1 – Radar Observer Renewal Day Class: 7/27, 8/29, 9/26
ROP-5 � Radar Observer Original and Renewal: 8/1

SEC-VCF � Security Officer, Vessel, Company & Facility: 7/25
SHS-BAS � Basic Shiphandling: 8/29
SHS-EMR5 � Emergency Shiphandling: 8/1

TC-NAV/CO � Terrestrial Navigation and Compasses: 7/11
TPIC-DL � Tankerman Person In Charge Dangerous Liquids: 8/15
TPIC-LNG � Tankerman Person In Charge Liquefied Gases: 7/11

WX BAS � Basic Meteorology: 9/19

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

Check the MITAGS website at www.mitags.org for course descriptions associated with the course title abbreviations, and schedule revisions. For class availability or info on MITAGS courses and programs, contact admissions toll-free at 866-656-5568 or e-mail: admissions@mitags.org


PMI ACADEMIC NOTES

Schedule of Courses – Please also see our schedule online at www.mates.org

For registration, call our registrar, Jennifer Pitzen, at (206) 838-1126

June 2011

27-29  Emergency Procedures
30-1    Search and Rescue

July 2011

5-15     GMDSS
7-8      Vessel Security Officer
11-15   Radar Observer Unlimited
11-15   Medical Care Provider
11-22   Medical Person-In-Charge
16th    Medical DOT
18th    Radar Renewal
18-22  ECDIS
18-22  Management, Communication, and Leadership
19-21   Security – Vessel, Company, and Facility
25-29  Basic Construction and Stability

August 2011

1-12     GMDSS
8-12    ECDIS
15-19   Tankerman PIC
15-19   Basic Meteorology
22nd   Radar Renewal
22-26  Medical Care Provider
27th    Medical DOT
22-2    Medical Person-In-Charge
23-26  ARPA


MM&P MARKET WATCH AS OF 6-17-11

D O W N A S D A Q S & P 500
12,004.36 2,616.48 1,271.50
Fund Name & Trading Symbol
 Closing
Price
 Vanguard Asset Allocation Fund (VAARX)
55.74
 Vanguard 500 Index Fund (VFINX)
117.60
 Vanguard Extended Market Index Fund (VEXMX)
42.03
 Vanguard International Growth Fund (VWIGX)
19.28
 Vanguard Morgan Growth Fund (VMRGX)
18.14
 Vanguard Windsor II Fund (VWNFX)
26.56
 Vanguard GNMA Fund (VFIIX)
10.95
 Vanguard Growth Index Fund (VIGRX)
31.74
 Vanguard High Yield Corporate (VWEHX)
5.76
 Vanguard LifeStrategy Conservative Growth (VSCGX)
16.63
 Vanguard LifeStrategy Growth Fund (VASGX)
22.39
 Vanguard LifeStrategy Income Fund (VASIX)
14.32
 Vanguard LifeStrategy Moderate Growth (VSMGX)
19.95
 Vanguard Target Retirement 2005 (VTOVX)
12.07
 Vanguard Target Retirement 2015 (VTXVX)
12.70
 Vanguard Target Retirement 2025 (VTTVX)
12.86
 Vanguard Target Retirement 2035 (VTTHX)
13.30
 Vanguard Target Retirement 2045 (VTIVX)
13.71
 Vanguard Total Bond Index (VBMFX)
10.77
 Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund (VTSMX)
32.05
 Chase Growth Fund (CHASX)
17.62
 Fidelity Asset Manager (FASMX)
15.64
 Fidelity Growth and Income (FGRIX)
18.52
 Fidelity Intermediate bond Fund (FTHRX)
10.78
 Fidelity Magellan Fund (FMAGX)
69.79
 Fidelity Value Fund (FDVLX)
69.43
 Fidelity Equity-Income II Fund (FEQTX)
18.50
 Fidelity Blue Chip Growth Fund (FBGRX)
45.40
 Fidelity Diversified International Fund (FDIVX)
29.91
 Fidelity Dividend Growth Fund (FDGFX)
28.28
 Fidelity Freedom Income (FFFAX)
11.46
 Fidelity Freedom 2000 (FFFBX)
12.16
 Fidelity Freedom 2010 (FFFCX)
13.81
 Fidelity Freedom 2020 (FFFDX)
13.99
 Fidelity Freedom 2030 (FFFEX)
13.91
 Fidelity Freedom 2040 (FFFFX)
8.07
 Fidelity Freedom 2050 (FFFHX)
9.43
 Fidelity Total Bond Fund (FTBFX)
10.94
 Spartan Extended market Index Fund (FSEMX)
38.30
 Spartan US Equity Index Fund (FUSEX)
45.19
 Domini Social Equity Fund (DSEFX)
30.58



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

© 2011, 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: lrosenthal@bridgedeck.org. For changes of address, contact Lisa Rosenthal at lrosenthal@bridgedeck.org.