Wheelhouse Weekly – November 27, 2012

November 27th 2012


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

Volume 16 . . . Number 48. . . November 27, 2012


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


Seafarers’ rights and efficient ship operations continue to be compromised by inconsistent port security regimes, according to MM&P and three other leading maritime unions. To address the problem, the Coast Guard’s mandatory training requirements for facility security officers (FSOs) should include instruction on how to achieve “an appropriate balance between security, the safe and efficient operation of the shipping industry and the human rights of professional mariners,” the unions say.

In written comments submitted in response to a Department of Homeland Security rulemaking on FSO training, the unions asked the Coast Guard to take steps to address the situation. Joining MM&P were the Seafarers International Union (SIU), the Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association (MEBA) and the American Maritime Officers (AMO).

“While we have a vital interest in security regulations that protect shipping, port facilities and the public from terrorist acts,” the unions said, “we also have a substantial interest in attaining a fair and reasonable implementation of our national security regime that recognizes an appropriate balance between security and the safe and efficient operation of the shipping industry and the human rights of our members.”

The unions said they strongly support mandatory training for FSOs as a means to bring uniformity to the interpretation and implementation of the provisions of the ISPS Code and the Maritime Transportation Security Act (MTSA). “There is lack of consistency in the implementation of security measures from terminal to terminal and from port to port,” they said. “Even within the same terminal the procedures can vary with a change of shift of the security guards or with a change in security contractors. This creates a situation where security procedures that must be followed by the ship and crew members for needed access through the terminal are both arbitrarily determined and inconsistent.”

The unions underlined the fact that the U.S. and other governments that have signed the Safety of Life at Sea Convention are required to “pay due cognizance to the fact that ship’s personnel live and work on the vessel and need shore leave and access to shore-based seafarer welfare facilities, including medical care.”

Union leaders met with the Commandant of the Coast Guard and his staff in January 2011 to discuss topics that included the lack of regulatory guidance in implementing the ship and seafarer access provisions in the ISPS Code and the fact that enforcement of the mandatory security plan provisions for access was being left to the local Captains of the Ports without oversight or guidance from USCG headquarters. Although following the meeting USCG headquarters issued ALCOAST 575/9 to address the situation, the problems persist.

Some port facilities are now parsing the language of the ALCOAST “to frustrate its intent by placing optional security or access charges on the ship which are then indirectly placed against the individual,” the unions said. They argue that the rulemaking should specify that any costs to the ship are not optional or discretionary charges that are indirectly passed on to the seafarer, but uniformly placed against all ships calling at the facility as a routine charge or absorbed in the general terminal tariffs.

The unions said they view the Coast Guard’s Facility Security Officer (FSO) Training as a means of standardizing the interpretation and implementation of security measures across the port security community. But the curriculum as currently written makes no mention at all of the need to ensure that a system is provided for seamen assigned to a vessel at a port facility, pilots, and representatives of seamen’s welfare and labor organizations to board and depart the vessel through the facility in a timely manner at no cost to the individual as required under Sec. 811 of the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2010. They also said the course should be modified to include discussion of the fact that Sec. 811 creates a statutory requirement for port facilities to provide a system of access for ships and crew.


The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) says Lockheed Martin, the private contractor that runs the TWIC program, is overwhelmed by “the high number of requests for Extended Expiration Date (EED) TWIC cards.” TSA has asked the Coast Guard to request that cardholders wait until their existing credential “falls within four months of the expiration date” to request a new card. “Due to the high number of TWIC Extended Expiration Date (EED) requests, significant delays are being experienced by TWIC holders attempting to contact the various TSA call centers,” according to a notice released by Coast Guard Sector Houston-Galveston. “TSA is working to add more phone lines and representatives, which may take up to a month to implement. In the meantime, it is requested that TWIC holders refrain from ordering an EED TWIC until the holder’s existing credential falls within four months of the expiration date.”

“The problem is that TWIC cards are managed by a defense contractor which has an economic incentive to provide the minimum level of service to maximize its profit per card,” said an MM&P official. “That means the business model is to use as few staff as possible to handle the workload, not adequate staffing to provide efficient service to the customer–who has no alternative but to go through the contractor. MM&P has been complaining about this from the beginning of the program,” he added.


Federal employees have done more than any other group to alleviate the country’s budget deficit, giving $103 billion back to the U.S. Treasury through two years of pay freezes. As the deadline for resolving the so-called “fiscal cliff” approaches, the Federal Workers Alliance (FWA) is urging members of Congress to recognize the sacrifices made by government workers, who have already endured two years of benefit cuts and salary stagnation. 

Freezing the pay of federal employees has resulted in $60 billion in deficit reduction over the course of two years, not counting another $28 billion that will be generated by the recommended 0.5 percent pay increase in President Obama’s Fiscal Year 2013 budget proposal and another $15 billion contributed through a 2.3 percent increase in the retirement contributions of newly hired federal workers. For a federal employee making a $40,000 annual salary, an additional one-year extension of the pay freeze would amount over 20 years to a loss totaling $54,840. “No other group in the United States has yet contributed funds to the reduction of the deficit,” the FWA unions said.

MM&P and MEBA are two of the 20 unions that make up the FWA, which currently represents over 300,000 federal workers, including members of the MM&P Federal Employees Membership Group. “Federal employees are critical to the functioning of this country,” the FWA unions told Congress. “As you work to reach an agreement to avoid sequestration, we urge you to stand against any and all proposals that aim to take more from our dedicated federal workers.”


Members of International Longshore & Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 18 collected $800 to feed starving crewmembers aboard the Liberian-flagged vessel SIDER PINK, which had been seized by U.S. marshals in Sacramento on Oct. 13 because of a financial dispute. The ship’s owner, Nikolas Papalios of Greece, had apparently run up a $10 million tab with creditors who took action in U.S. courts to prevent the vessel from leaving. Like many owners, Papalios registered his ship in Liberia to avoid labor, safety, environmental and tax laws. 

Local 18 members learned that the crewmembers aboard the ship were desperately hungry. Further contact revealed that the predominantly Chinese-speaking crew had not received their pay or proper meals for many months. At one point, crewmembers said, they had resorted to eating seaweed to avoid starvation. “All of us scrambled to help these guys after we realized what they’d been through,” said Local 18 President Derek Peterson.

Besides delivering food to the ship, Local 18 contacted the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF). ITF West Coast Coordinator Jeff Engels flew to Sacramento the next day from Seattle, gathered details and then spent all night on the phone with ILWU International Vice President Ray Familathe, the ship’s owners, ITF headquarters in London, the U.S. Coast Guard and lawyers representing the owner and creditors.

It turned out that the SIDER PINK was covered by an ITF Collective Bargaining Agreement. But because the shipowner kept two sets of books, one for inspectors and another for himself, it took Engels some time to get to the bottom of the situation. After hours reviewing documents, reading personnel contracts and interviewing the crew in private, he concluded that the ship owner had violated the contract by failing to pay the crew properly. A demand was made for the crew to be immediately paid for all their current and back wages, which finally happened. Proper payment was confirmed by talking with crewmembers and reviewing bank records that proved the back wages owed had been paid.

The combination of solidarity from Local 18 members, support from the ITF and enforcement action by the U.S. Coast Guard resulted in $14,000 worth of food stores being delivered to the SIDER PINK. The ship owner agreed to pay for the food along with back pay through October.

“It’s impossible to know for sure if the vessel’s owner will continue to honor the contract or try to cheat the crew again after they leave the West Coast,” said Engels, “but they’re bound to be more careful because ITF inspectors are stationed at ports around the world and we can track the SIDER PINK as she travels.” He credited ILWU Local 18 members for their quick action in responding to the emergency.


The next time you need a pair of boots, why not buy them from a company that is as committed to supporting American workers as you are? The Union Boot Pro offers union members a selection of 125 top quality union-made boots produced by Wisconsin-based Weinbrenner Shoe Company.

The boots offered on are 100 percent American made by members of UFCW Locals #688 and #717. (Only the raw rubber is imported–by necessity–from Brazil). The Union Boot Pro offers boots in a variety of styles, with options that include steel toes, extra ankle support, waterproofing and heels that are specially made for climbing ladders.

The average price of the work boots offered on the site is $180. Plus: union members receive a lifetime discount of 27 percent off the purchase price. To take advantage of the discount, just use the code Mp1953mD at check-out. Remember to ask your company if they have a boot program to help pay for your boots.

You can order online at or call toll-free: 1-800-723-5384.

Remember: Every time you buy American, you support your friends, your neighbors and other American workers!


Hurricane Sandy has brought hardship and suffering to many of our members living in New Jersey and New York. Approximately 200 active and retired MM&P brothers and sisters and their families live in the affected areas. For many, recovery will be long and hard. To help our members, applicants, retirees and employees in distress, the MM&P General Executive Board (GEB) has activated the Masters, Mates & Pilots Disaster Relief Fund. The GEB has approved committing $25,000 from the union treasury to the Disaster Relief Fund. The Fund is also accepting contributions from members, applicants, retirees, our contracted companies, or any individual interested in providing assistance directly to our brothers and sisters and their families.

Please join us in helping the members of our MM&P family most affected by this disaster. One-hundred percent of your donation is considered a charitable donation by the IRS and is fully deductible on your income taxes. You can mail a check made payable to The Masters, Mates & Pilots Disaster Relief Fund to The Masters, Mates & Pilots Disaster Relief Fund, 700 Maritime Blvd., Suite B, Linthicum Heights, MD 21090-1953. You can also make a secure donation online in the Members Only section of Please note that we are unable to accept donations of goods. Questions on applying for aid should be directed to International Comptroller Beverly Gutmann,, 410-850-8700 ext. 112.


Information regarding the new MM&P Offshore Adjustable Pension Plan has been posted in the Members’ Only section of To view the information, go to, enter the Members’ Only site and click on “Offshore Pension Plan Information” at the top of the page.


Applications for the 2013-14 Offshore Scholarship Program are now available for eligible dependent children of eligible Offshore members and co-pay pensioners in good standing. Scholarship applicants must be high school seniors during the 2012-13 school year. Please contact Madeline Petrelli at the Plan Office at 410-850-8615 to request an application packet. Completed applications must be returned to the Plan Office by Nov. 30 in order for them to be submitted for review and processing by the Scholarship Recognition Award Program in Princeton, N.J. The Scholarship Recognition Award Program will review the qualifications of all applicants and then select the winners. The names of the winners will be presented to the Trustees for final approval at the Board’s June 2013 meeting.


There is an Open Enrollment Period Nov. 1-Dec. 1 for MM&P Health & Benefit Plan participants who: missed the Open Enrollment when it was offered last year; missed the 60-day notification requirement for the addition of a dependent after becoming eligible for coverage as a result of marriage, birth of a child, adoption of a child or placement of a child for adoption or under legal guardianship; or loss of other health insurance coverage. 

For information, call the Plan Office toll free at 1-877-667-5522 and ask for Lynn or a benefit advisor. You will be mailed the forms that must be completed and returned to the Plan Office by Dec. 31, 2012.


Join us to celebrate! All MM&P members, employees, their families and friends are encouraged to attend the holiday parties now being scheduled in our union halls.

MM&P East Coast holiday party schedule:

– Boston, Monday, Dec. 10, from 1200 to 1500 in the Boston Hall, 12 Channel St., S. Boston (617) 671-0769;

– New York/New Jersey, Friday, Dec. 7, from 1100 to 1500, in the New York/New Jersey Hall;

– Norfolk, Thursday, Dec. 6, from 1300, jointly with MEBA at the new Norfolk Hall;

– San Juan, Friday, Dec. 14, at El Camaron Restaurant, from 1600 to 1930 (last call is 1925).

MM&P Gulf Coast holiday party schedule:

— New Orleans, Tuesday, Dec. 11, at noon, at Portobellos, 400 East William David Parkway, Metairie;

— Houston, Thursday, Dec. 13, noon, at Brady’s Landing, 8505 Cypress Street, Houston;

— Pompano, Friday, Dec. 14, at 1300 in the union hall;

— Jacksonville, Friday, Dec. 14, at 1300 in the union hall.

MM&P West Coast holiday party schedule for members of ALL MM&P Membership Groups:

— Honolulu, joint MM&P-MEBA party, Tuesday, Dec. 18, from 1000 to 1400, in the MM&P Honolulu Hall;

— Offshore, UIG and PMR party, with members of MEBA, in the Los Angeles/Long Beach Hall, Friday, Dec. 14, at 1300;

— Offshore, UIG and PMR party, with members of MEBA, in the San Francisco/Oakland Hall, Friday, Dec. 7, at 1300;

— Offshore, UIG and PMR party, Seattle, Thursday, Dec. 6, Billy Baroo’s/Foster Golf Links, 13500 Interurban Avenue, S, Tukwila, Wash., 98168. Please be sure to RSVP to the Seattle Hall (206) 441-8700 by Dec. 4 and let us know whether you are bringing a guest. Check with the hall if you need directions to Billy Baroo’s.

Come one, come all. Please join us to celebrate!


There will be membership meetings at the Charleston Hall on Nov. 29 and the Norfolk Hall on Nov. 30. Both meetings will be held at 1100. The MM&P International Secretary-Treasurer will join the MM&P Atlantic Ports Vice President at both meetings. As at other recent meetings at MM&P halls, the new MM&P Offshore Adjustable Pension Plan will be discussed.


Members of MM&P’s United Inland Group-Pacific Maritime Region are encouraged to attend a meeting at the MM&P Hall in Edmonds on Tuesday Dec. 11, at 1000. All MM&P members are encouraged to attend. If you have specific questions that may need to be researched, please e-mail the question prior to the meeting to the MM&P Regional Representative:


Walmart workers, community activists and union members are continuing their strikes and picket lines at Walmart stores across the country. The mega-retailer is under attack for treating its employees poorly and violating labor laws. Activists charge its presence in communities lowers living standards because it underpays workers, fails to offer adequate health insurance and drives more even-handed competitors and suppliers out of business.

Organizers said last week that labor actions took place in 100 cities in 46 states and that overall, several hundred workers walked off the job on Black Friday. In response, Walmart has gone to the National Labor Relations Board alleging that the strikes are illegal. The company continues to organize “captive audience” meetings of employees. It issued a press release on Black Friday terming the demonstrations “a failure.” The protests are being organized with the support of the United Food & Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) and Jobs for Justice.


The Vietnamese military last week recaptured a Malaysian-owned tanker that had been hijacked by pirates the previous week. Vietnamese authorities arrested 11 suspected hijackers. Communications with the ship had been lost on Nov. 17. The crewmembers had been cast adrift the previous day and rescued by fishermen. A spokesperson for the International Maritime Bureau Piracy Reporting Center said the vessel had been repainted and reflagged in an effort to conceal its identity. He said this was the first case of a laden tanker being hijacked in the region in a number of years.


Given the number of required company training courses, it is extremely important for new members to request a transcript review to determine whether they meet the course equivalency requirements.

The courses that are eligible for equivalency are listed in the MITAGS Trust Student Guide located on in the MM&P Member Section. You may also request a copy from Diane Ford ( or call 443-989-3238). Remember, the dispatcher in the union hall cannot assign you a job unless you meet the company’s training requirements!

Did you know that you can view your course history on Just go to the “Members Only” section and click the “Course History” tab. You can print the course list yourself.


Try our on-line calendar to register for class:

For class availability or information on courses and programs, contact MITAGS Admissions Coordinator Kelly Michielli toll free at 866-656-5568 or e-mail her at

Between now and the end of March 2013, the following courses are scheduled at MITAGS.

Automated Radar Plotting Aids: 1/22/2013, 3/26/2013

AZIPOD (2-DAY) for Pilots: 3/20/2013

BRM – Bridge Resource Management: 1/14/2013, 3/18/2013

BRMP – Bridge Resource Management for Pilots:  11/29/12, 1/21/2013, 2/7/2013, 3/7/2013

BST – Basic Safety Training: 1/21/13

[CMM – Chief Mate and Master Courses]

CMM-ADVWX – Advanced Meteorology: 1/21/2013

CMM-ADVNAV – Advanced Navigation (=ECDIS & VPEN): 1/7/2013, 3/18/2013

CMM-ADVSTB – Advanced Stability: 12/17/2012, 2/18/2013

CMM-CHS – Advanced Cargo Operations (2 weeks): 2/25/2013

CMM-MPP – Marine Propulsion Plants: 3/11/13

CMM-SHMGT – Ship Management (2 weeks): 12/3/12, 2/4/13

CMM-SHS-ADV-I – Advanced Shiphandling (week 1): 12/10/2012, 1/14/2013, 1/28/2013, 2/18/2013, 3/4/2013

CMM-SHS-ADV-I I – Advanced Shiphandling (week 2): 12/17/2012, 1/21/2013, 2/4/2013, 2/25/2013, 3/11/2013

CMM-WKP – Advanced Watchkeeping: 1/28/2013

DDE: Designated Duty Engineer: 1/28/2013

ENVIRO-Regs Permit – Environmental Regulations Permit: 3/5/2013

FSM – Fatigue, Sleep and Medications:  3/7/13

FF-BADV – Combined Basic and Advanced Fire Fighting: 1/21/13

HAZ – Hazardous Materials (5 day): 2/11/13

LAP – License Advancement Program for Great Lakes: 1/28/2013

LEG – Legal Aspects of Pilotage: 11/29/2012, 3/6/2013

MCL – Management, Communications and Leadership, 3/25/2013

MEDIA RSP – Media Response Workshop: 3/8/2013

MED-PIC – Medical Person in Charge: 12/3/12, 1/7/13, 2/18/13, 3/18/13

MED-PIC -R– Medical Person in Charge Refresher: 1/28/2013

MED-PRO – Medical Care Provider: 12/3/2012, 1/7/2013, 2/18/2013, 3/18/2013

MED-DOT-DA – Dept. of Transportation Drug & Alcohol Testing: 12/8/2012, 1/12/2013, 1/26/2013, 2/23/2013, 3/23/2013

MSC -SMA – Military Sealift Command Small Arms Qualification: 3/11/13

MSC-DC – Military Sealift Command Damage Control (4 Evenings): 3/11/13

MSC-CBRD-1 – Military Sealift Command Chemical, Biological, Radiological Defense Orientation (Basic): 3/15/13

ROR-1 – Radar Observer Renewal Evening Classes: 12/5/2012, 12/12/2012, 1/9/2013, 1/23/2013, 2/6/2013, 2/20/2013, 3/6/2013, 3/20/2013,

ROR-1 – Radar Observer Renewal: 1/21/2013, 3/25/2013

ROP-5 – Radar Observer Original and Renewal: 1/14/13

SHS-BAS – Basic Shiphandling: 1/28/13, 3/25/13

SEC-VSO – Vessel Security Officer: 3/4/2013

SHS-ESH-BRMP3 – Emergency Shiphandling and Bridge Resource Management for Pilots: 3/4/13

SHS-EMR5 – Emergency Shiphandling: 2/11/13

TPIC – Tankerman Person in Charge:  2/25/13

… 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, and schedule revisions.


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

December 2012

3rd         Radar Renewal
3-7         Medical Care Provider
3-14       Medical PIC
10-14     ECDIS
17th       Flashing Light

MM&P MARKET WATCH AS OF 11-27-2012 at 11:30 a.m. EST

D O W N A S D A Q S & P 500
12,933.13 2,972.98 1,403.74

Mutual Funds (Live)

Click a mutual fund for more information.
Click the right or left arrow on the right side of the ticker to browse the mutual funds.

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

© 2012, 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: For changes of address, contact Lisa Rosenthal at