Wheelhouse Weekly – October 10, 2002

October 10th 2002


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

Volume 6 . . . . . Number 41 . . . . . October 10, 2002








At 10 AM Monday, October 7, President George W. Bush signed an executive order appointing a three-man board of inquiry to investigate the ramifications of the employer lockout of International Longshore and Warehouse Union members on the West Coast. This was the first step necessary to invoke provisions of the Taft-Hartley Act, forcing a reopening of the ports.

President Bush took this step after negotiations under auspices of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service broke down late Sunday night, October 6.

On the night of October 6, the ILWU agreed to a seven-day extension proposed by the mediator, but PMA then demanded a 90 day extension, effectively breaking negotiations off and contradicting the position they held from the beginning of the lockout, saying they would open the ports if the ILWU would go back to signing a day-to-day contract extension.

The board of inquiry returned its report Tuesday morning, stating the shutdown of West Coast ports presented a significant danger to the national economy. “We have no confidence that the parties will resolve the West Coast ports dispute within a reasonable time,” the panel said in its report. Bush announced shortly thereafter that he would seek a court order restarting work.

Several hours after President Bush’s announcement, US District Judge William Alsup in San Francisco issued an injunction ordering open the gates at West Coast port facilities through October 17 and forcing ILWU dockworkers back on the job, working under provisions of the expired contract. Judge Alsup has scheduled a follow-up hearing for October 16 to hear the Bush Administration request for full imposition of an 80-day ‘cooling off’ period and federal mediation under Taft-Hartley Act provisions.

The court’s injunction followed a series of events on Tuesday, October 8 making it clear about management’s position:

  • The ILWU received a call from the Department of Labor’s solicitor general at 10:30 AM asking if the Union would return to work under a 30-day extension of its expired contract. ILWU spokesman Steve Stallone said the ILWU discussed the offer internally and accepted it.
  • The solicitor general called back later and said the PMA rejected the 30-day proposal.
  • PMA President Joseph Miniace criticized the union’s decision to accept the extension, saying it had rejected PMA’s 90-day extension proposed October 6.
  • President Bush followed immediately with an order for Attorney General John Ashcroft to seek an injunction, Stallone said.
  • PMA spokesman John Pachtner was reported saying that the PMA had good reason to reject a contract extension. Under that proposal, he claimed, there would be no enforcement mechanism, but under Taft-Hartley, the Court would enforce the no-slowdown provisions.

This is the first time ever that a president has sought a Taft-Hartley injunction for a lockout of employees by an employer. The last time that the Act was invoked was by President Jimmy Carter during a coal miners’ strike in 1978.

“This is the most egregious attack on workers rights in 50 years,” said Ron Judd, AFL-CIO Western Regional Director. “If they can do it to the ILWU, they can do it to any union.”

The Taft-Hartley Act was passed in 1948 in an override of a veto by President Roosevelt as an anti-union law that quickly came to be known as the “Slave Labor Act”. It requires both the employers and the union to return to the conditions of the old contract for 80 days. Its provisions for fines, contempt of court citations and prison sentences for those violating the terms of the contract are all aimed at workers forced back on the job. It has been argued that Taft-Hartley is a violation of the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution, which states that “neither slavery nor involuntary servitude…shall exist within the United States…”

MM&P Pacific Ports VP Don Marcus reports that MM&P members continue standing strong with the ILWU in this latest and potentially most devastating attack on maritime labor in decades.

Marcus states that “MM&P members have honored picket lines on every ship in every port on the West Coast. We understand that an attack on the ILWU is an attack on all of us.”

He further expressed “thanks to all those who have honored their obligation of Union membership including the many members who have signed up at volunteer lists in our Union halls.” Marcus is also grateful for the outstanding effort of our MM&P reps including Dave Boatner in LA, volunteer Kevin McGraw in San Francisco, as well as our other reps and dispatchers who are doing excellent jobs under difficult circumstances.

ILWU President James Spinosa had earlier sent a letter of thanks to MM&P President Capt. Tim Brown thanking the MM&P for its solidarity and ongoing pledge of assistance. Capt. Brown remarked that “it is really us who should be thanking the men and women of the ILWU. Since the ILWU’s founding, and even through such tragic times as Bloody Thursday, they have continually stood up for their rights and the rights of all working people in the US and around the world. MM&P is proud to stand in solidarity with the ILWU.”

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



More than 200 cargo vessels carrying several hundred thousand containers are currently stacked at the docks or at anchor along the West Coast, with some 120 of those waiting to enter the Port of Los Angeles/Long Beach. Dozens more ships are still en route from Asia. Current estimates indicate that it will take six weeks or longer, working around the clock, for the backlog to be processed once port operations are fully up and running.

ILWU members began returning to work on Wednesday, October 9 after a federal judge ordered the PMA to open the ports, but the union is angry that the Bush administration invoked the Taft-Hartley injunction.

“We fully expect PMA to use all the anti-union provisions of the Taft-Hartley injunction. These 80 days will not be a ‘cooling off period,'” said ILWU International President James Spinosa. “PMA will start alleging ‘slowdowns’ by Thursday and will continue that. Taft-Hartley gives them 80 days of free shots at the union and we expect the employers will be dragging us to court daily, trying to bankrupt the union and throw our leaders in jail.”

The PMA’s nearly two-week long lockout, coming at the busiest time in the history of the West Coast, has created a monstrous backlog of cargo. Clearing out these clogged docks will be a logistical nightmare that will take many weeks. PMA has already stated that productivity levels any less than normal during these 80 days will be regarded as a slowdown.

PMA spokesman John Pachtner countered that the PMA will not claim slowdowns if none are occurring. He said that the goal of employers is to return the ports to normal as quickly and safely as possible, and to resume negotiations with the aim of reaching a new agreement.

The ILWU stated that all terminals will need a full complement of workers to be dispatched from their hiring halls, but those orders will be impossible to fill. According to the ILWU, PMA has previously accused the union of withholding labor when orders exceeded the number of workers available or not enough skilled workers were dispatched.

“Ironically, it is PMA’s responsibility to register more longshore workers and to provide training. The union has long pushed for more registration and training for its members, but PMA regularly stalls those requests,” stated the ILWU.

The ILWU is very concerned that when its members do get back to work, the backlog of cargo will create an unsafe speedup. The union’s Steve Stallone noted that due to congestion at the ports it would be impossible for workers to ramp up to full productivity overnight.

The congestion and gridlock on the docks also creates a workplace hazard. “We are tired of burying our people,” Spinosa said. “Having five members die on the job in the last six months has raised major fears for the life and limbs of longshore workers on the congested docks.”

“All PMA President Joe Miniace ever talks about is how many containers get moved how fast. You never hear him cite statistics of the deaths and injuries, of the human toll of his profits.”

In addition to the five ILWU members killed on the job, two nonunion port workers’ lives have also been claimed. “The number of fatal accidents we’ve seen this year is raising concerns,” said Dean Fryer, a spokesman for California Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

“The Taft-Hartley injunction requires the parties to abide by the terms of the old contract and,” noted the ILWU, “the safety regulations are a part of that contract.” The ILWU has instructed its members to obey the letter of those regulations and to follow all mandated procedures. The preamble of the safety code says that “In a question of tonnage vs. safety, safety first.”

The ILWU also noted that “the 80 days of the Taft-Hartley injunction gets PMA through the peak shipping season and to the slowest time of the year, relieving companies of any urgency to bargain. They also get the bonus prize of being able to harass the union in court for 80 days.”


MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



On October 8, AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Richard Trumka responded angrily to the Bush Administration’s call to invoke provisions of the Taft-Hartley Act against West Coast dock workers for being locked out of the workplace by their employers. He said:

“This is the first time in the history of the United States that a President has let an employer lock out workers in an extended quest to undermine the workers’ union — creating a phony crisis — and then reward that employer’s action with government intervention.

“It is a tragedy with historic ramifications. And it is not only a tragedy but an outrage that the decision by the White House to intervene came even though the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA), which negotiates for west coast shippers and port terminal operators, had just rejected the Bush Administration’s call to end their lock out of dockworkers at the port and extend the workers’ contract for 30 days while bargaining continues — in lieu of a Taft-Hartley injunction. The dockworkers and their union had agreed to the Bush Administration’s request for a contract extension today.

“The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) members have wanted to work all along — they never went on strike — and they have asked to unload the ships while they ironed out their differences with their employer.

“Early in the process, the Bush Administration threatened to use the military to operate the ports and threatened to invoke Taft-Hartley — thus strengthening the employers’ hand in bargaining and giving the Pacific Maritime Association little incentive to bargain in good faith.

“The basic issue is neither wages nor benefits. Dockworkers make a good living. The issue is making sure that those jobs remain good jobs – union jobs that support families and are good for the community. Dockworkers agreed to technology that would increase productivity, and the ILWU has asked that any new jobs created have the protection of an ILWU contract so that the workers have a voice on the job through their union. But the PMA has steadfastly refused.

“The two parties’ issues are bridgeable. But it will take fair and equal discussion — hopefully, the Bush’s early intervention in the process has not poisoned the waters too much for the parties to be able to reach a compromise.”

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



On October 7, Sonny Hall, President of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO said:

“I am outraged that President Bush has chosen to intervene in the West Coast port negotiations. It is yet another reminder of where this administration stands — its unwavering allegiance to corporate America and its long-standing bias against working America.

“Like all transportation workers, the over 10,000 longshoremen on the West Coast want to work. They want to help move a nation and rebuild our economy. But the Pacific Maritime Association has fought them every step of the way, culminating in last week’s lockout.

“The International Longshore and Warehouse Union had agreed to federal mediation, hoping it would end the lockout and get both sides back to serious business at the bargaining table. The ILWU had even agreed to the mediator’s suggestion of a 7-day extension of their contract. But the PMA chose to stonewall and sabotage these good-faith efforts rather than re-open the ports.

“The Bush administration – which as early as July had been talking about military intervention to break the union – has long been on the side of management and the multinational corporations bankrolling the PMA rather than working to ensure that there is the level-playing field that is needed for both sides to reach a mutually-agreed upon contract. The White House pulled the plug on the mediator after only four days, negating the progress that had been made.

“The White House has done it again. They have never met a collective bargaining situation that they didn’t think they could tamper with on behalf of their friends. This is not how labor-management relations ought to be in this country, and the chilling effect of the President’s anti-worker actions will reach far beyond water’s edge.

“Transportation workers will long remember this day and where people stood.” 

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



Japanese and Australian dock workers issued a statement Friday supporting the International Longshore and Warehouse Union in its dispute with the Pacific Maritime Association.

The International Transport Workers Federation reported that a delegation from the overseas unions met with companies such as NYK Lines, K-Lines and MOL “to warn them of the consequences of not distancing themselves from the anti-ILWU policies of the PMA,” said Paddy Crumlin, national secretary of the Australian union MUA.

He also said “the companies that make up the PMA must understand or they will be made to understand that their actions against the ILWU are effectively actions against dockers and seafarers elsewhere and in particular Korea, Japan and Australia.”

Kenji Yasuda, chairman of Zenkoku-kowan, the Japanese dockworkers’ union said “shipowners that have attacked the ILWU are the same companies that Zenkoku-kowan deals with. We acknowledge that the ILWU’s struggles and the attacks upon them have an effect on ourselves and we will fight in solidarity with port workers and seafarers around the globe.”


MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



DOT Training for D&A

In addition to the 3-day program already scheduled, a one-day course, acceptable to the USCG, that substantially complies with the new DOT requirements for Breath Alcohol Technician (BAT) and Screening Test Technician (STT) will be presented at MITAGS October 12, November 9, and December 14. Contact admissions for seats.

One-day classes at the Halls are also scheduled for:

  • Boston (November 18)
  • Jacksonville (November 20), and
  • New Orleans (November 22).

Seats should be arranged through the respective halls. Recognizing the demand, MITAGS will endeavor to schedule additional classes.


Travel Reminder

Students planning to attend MITAGS around the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays need to book airline tickets as soon as possible. Reduced availability and higher prices are already evident.


You can now check schedule and register on-line or contact Admissions at or 443-989-3226.


MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



Class Openings through November:

  • 10/21-25: MAXIMO, BAFF
  • 10/28-11/1: ARPA
  • 10/28-11/8: GMDSS
  • 11/4-6: BRM
  • 11/4-8: BST
  • 11/11-15: ARPA
  • 11/15-22: Med 1/MPIC
  • 11/18-19: MAXIMO
  • 11/18-22: RADAR

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


MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



 D O W

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MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly




This is a reminder that effective October 1, 2002, the MM&P Plan’s contract with Prudential Dental expires. Prudential was purchased by Aetna/US HealthCare in 2001 and can no longer offer the Plan the same type of fee-for-service arrangement as before.

In order to continue to offer Plan Participants an in-network dental benefit option, the Plan reviewed proposals from organizations that provide network dental services. After review, the Trustees approved a contract with Delta Dental, the largest provider of dental services in the US.

The Delta Dental Claims Processing Center in Mechanicsburg, PA, will handle claims administration for all MM&P eligible participants and dependents. This includes claims submitted by out of network dentists as well as those who are Delta Dental providers.

Plan participants who choose to go to a contracted provider will pay 10 percent of the contracted amount and the Plan will pay 90 percent. Participants will have access to all Delta providers in the Delta Premier Network option that includes over 133,000 dentists nationwide.



~ Where Does My Dentist Submit My Claims?

Effective October 1, 2002, all dental claims with dates of service on or after October 1, 2002, from both in and out-of-network providers, should be sent directly to: Delta Dental, One Delta Drive, Mechanicsburg, PA 17055-6999. Participants will receive a claim form in the mailing sent out by the Plan Office on August 11. Your dentist can copy this form and use it to submit all dental claims incurred on or after October 1, 2002.

~ How Do I Find A Delta Dentist?

You can locate participating dentists in your area in two ways. You can call 1-800-932-0783 from 8 AM to 8 PM Eastern Time, Monday-Friday, or you can sign on to the Delta website at Once you have signed on to the website, key on the bar marked “Pennsylvania”. (MM&P Plan members are enrolled in the Delta Premier Option through Delta Dental of Penn.) Next enter the search criteria to find participating Delta dentists in your area or enter your own dentist’s name to find out if he/she participates with the Premier network.



Delta Dental will coordinate with the Plan Office to transition all billing for “work in process”. This means that all root canals, orthodontia work and other staged procedures that are not completed under the old arrangement will be carried over and the remaining balance billing, for work performed on or after October 1, 2002 will be processed by Delta Dental.

It is important to remember that all work that has been pre-determined by Prudential/Aetna must be completed and billed with a billing date on or prior to September 30, 2002, in order to assure that your co-pay will remain the same as quoted in the initial pre-determination.

Any work started under the old Plan but billed for date of service on or after October 1, 2002 will be reimbursed according to whether the dentist is participating in the Delta Dental network. If your dentist is not a participating dentist, the balance billing will be paid at the out-of-network rate of 80 percent of the Plan’s UCR schedules.



All questions about any dental claims incurred on or after October 1, 2002, including claims submitted by out-of-network providers, should be directed to Delta Dental at 1-800-932-0783. You have been provided with a Delta claim form to forward to your dentist, however, your dentist may submit any standard dental billing form as long as the bill is sent directly to Delta at the above listed address.



Participants will be receiving a brochure in early October that will include a perforated generic identification card. This card lists the telephone number and the billing address for Delta. You are not required to carry an identification card because your social security number and birth date will identify you as an eligible participant in the Delta Dental Network.

It is important to remember that MM&P claims will be processed by Delta Dental of Pennsylvania. You or your dentist can access your eligibility by calling either the Plan Office or Delta Dental at 1-800-932-0783.



Please contact the Plans Benefit Advisors if you have any questions prior to October 1, 2002 or you can Email questions to: Ann Marie McCullough, Director of Claims at, or Valerie Verrecchio, Plans Administrator at

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly




MM&P’s General Executive Board met on October 3-4. More info will follow in future issues of the Wheelhouse Weekly. One item of particular note is that the Offshore Advisory Committee established quotas for admittance to the Offshore Membership Group.

Effective October 4, 2002, no member of any membership group, including the Offshore Unlicensed Membership Group, may transfer into the Offshore Licensed Membership Group without having been a member of the organization for at least as long as the length of time that the lowest applicant admitted into membership has in the organization.

Please see your local Offshore Vice President for additional information.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



Pursuant to a Resolution adopted at the MM&P’s 79th Convention, the web-based bulletin board established by the MM&P for communication among its members is going to be discontinued. The bulletin board was set up following passage of a Resolution calling for its establishment during the MM&P’s 78th Convention in 2000.

Since its establishment, fewer than one percent of MM&P members have registered to use the system and even fewer registered members have actually posted messages.

Members are advised that the bulletin board will go off-line about October 31, 2002 which is 90 days from the date of publication of the July-August edition of The Master, Mate & Pilot which was printed July 31.

Note: Shut-down of the bulletin board should not be confused with operation of the Members’-only web site accessed from the MM&P’s main web page. That site continues to get excellent traffic and improvements continue to be made.

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 paralyzed as the result of a tragic auto accident in March.

Please Note: The fund is open only through December 31, 2002.

Contributions may be made payable to the:

Gisele Schmidt Fund c/o MM&P 700 Maritime Blvd. Linthicum Heights, MD 21090


MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



A memorial fund has been established in the memory of recently deceased MM&P member Jerry Backman. Jerry shipped out of San Francisco and was 49-years old at the time of his tragic death as the result of an auto accident last month.

He will be affectionately remembered as a loyal union brother, outstanding licensed deck officer and a fine person. Jerry leaves a widow, a 22-year old daughter and a 15-year old son.

Donations on behalf of Jerry will be used to assist with the education of his children. The Backman family is privately managing the fund. They are most appreciative of all the messages expressing sympathy and the positive stories from his shipmates and friends.

Contributions can be sent to:

The Jerry B. Backman Memorial Fund c/o Bank of the West 2900 Railroad Avenue Pittsburg, CA 94565

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



Members are reminded that the Masters, Mates & Pilots Federal Credit Union is offering vehicle loans as low as 5.25 percent. Rates range from 5.25 to 6.99 percent for terms of 24 to 60 months. It doesn’t matter if it’s for a new, used or a refinanced vehicle.

These rates are also in effect for new or used recreational vehicles, motorcycles or boats. Limited funds available at this rate, certain terms and conditions apply.

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.

Rates and terms of offer are subject to change. Call Kathy Klisavage, Credit Union Manager, toll free 1-800-382-7777 or Email for all the details.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



MM&P-contracted AHL Shipping maintains a “job line” that provides info on available rotary jobs. Information is posted at the beginning of each month for the current month. It is only updated during the month if an error occurred in the original month’s posting. All jobs continue to be posted and shipped out of the Union Halls, the line is for info purposes only. The job line may be reached by calling 504-522-3300 and requesting the Job Line at extension 10.

MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



The USCG has issued a Safety Alert reporting that a high percentage of antennas attached to Satellite 406 Category I EPIRBs, product number 2754, manufactured by ACR Electronics, have failed.

On several occasions the antenna’s outer rubber coating was discovered ripped or torn. Closer inspection often revealed extensive internal corrosion. Other antennas showed no perforations on the outer rubber coating but displayed bulges on the antennae near its base. Upon closer inspection when the bulging area was sliced open, total wastage of the antennae interior was revealed.

It is reported that evidence of a corrosion failure may be discovered when the antenna is unscrewed from the EPIRB body assembly. Rusty liquid dripping from the antenna or moisture present inside the threaded section are tell-tale signs of failing equipment.

The company will replace damaged antennas at no cost.

If similar problems are encountered with your vessel’s 2754 EPIRB antenna, contact ACR Electronics Customer Service Representatives at 800-432-0227, ext. 110 to receive a replacement antenna.

The USCG strongly recommends that vessel operators carefully examine their EPIRB antennas, particularly those manufactured by ACR Electronics.


MM&P Wheelhouse Weekly



Massachusetts Maritime Academy’s BS program in International Maritime Business is seeking a business administration generalist for a full-time tenure track faculty appointment. The position is available beginning March 1, 2003.

Apply to:

Associate Dean of Human Resources Massachusetts Maritime Academy 101 Academy Drive Buzzards Bay, MA 02532

Include cover letter, resume and three references.

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 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 andis posted on our web page.

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