Wheelhouse Weekly – September 03, 2013

September 3rd 2013


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

Volume 17 . . . Number 36 . . . Sept. 3, 2013


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


Patriot Contract Services has announced that Military Sealift Command has notified it that it is the apparent successful offeror for the eight Watson Class LMSRs. We look forward to working with our union and management partners to operate these ships for MSC in keeping with the high standards MM&P has achieved on other military contracted vessels. We are requesting resumes from our members with prior LMSR experience and Military Sealift Command training in preparation for crewing these eight ships.

Please send your resume to the MM&P Secretary-Treasurer,, or to MM&P Gulf Ports Vice President Wayne Farthing,


As many as one in three of the U.S.-citizen-crewed ships that participate in the Maritime Security Program (MSP) may be “defunded” starting Oct. 1 as a consequence of the law known as sequestration, which mandates broad-based, multibillion dollar cuts as a result of Congressional lawmakers’ inability to compromise on the federal budget. Many MM&P members work aboard ships in the Maritime Security fleet.

A significant number of MSP vessels will lose their federal subsidy in the coming months if Congress and the Obama administration cannot reach a budget compromise, according to the U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD). The agency outlined the details of the dire situation in a meeting last week with representatives of shipping companies and maritime labor unions.

The cuts, which will also affect ships in MARAD’s Ready Reserve Fleet (RRF), will result in the loss of an as-yet-to-be determined number of mariner billets. They may also cause shipping companies that operate American vessels to leave the U.S. flag. In the worst case scenario, up to 20 vessels may ultimately be included in what MARAD officials have termed the “red zone” of endangered ships.

MM&P, the Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association (MEBA) and the other maritime unions are working with advocates of our industry in Congress to address the situation, but the prospect of securing an agreement among the warring factions in Washington appears less and less likely.

The situation is critical. Your help is urgently needed. Please take a few minutes to contact your senators and representatives with a request that they take urgent action to stop the decimation of the Maritime Security Program. A draft letter which you can e-mail to your member of Congress or download and print to send by regular mail is posted on just click on “Breaking News” at the top of the MM&P home page.

You can e-mail your representative in the House by going to and entering your zip code in the box labeled “Find Your Representative.” You can contact your senators by going to and picking your state from the scroll-down list in the box next to the words “Find your senators.”

Your message should state that you are a constituent who is employed in the maritime industry, which plays a vital role in America’s economy and national defense, and that you support full funding for the Maritime Security Program.

As a result of sequestration, some members of the MM&P Federal Employees Membership Group (FEMG) have been furloughed without pay for up to 15 days. The situation is only expected to worsen when the second series of sequestration-mandated budget slashing, totaling $4.2 billion, is implemented on top of the initial $4.6 billion in cuts.

“With working families and our transportation unions facing some of the toughest battles of our times, we are all gearing up for an autumn that will test our mettle as we ward off devastating austerity measures that could crush our industry, decimate jobs and weaken our economy,” says Transportation Trades Department (TTD) President Edward Wytkind.


Cuts to the Maritime Security Program–while relatively small in absolute terms and as a percentage of the federal budget–would have an outsize effect on America’s security. In an interview last week with the Los Angeles Times, MM&P President Don Marcus said the pending reduction in MSP funding, which could ultimately reduce the size of the Maritime Security fleet by as much as a third, would decimate America’s sealift capacity and severely compromise our military’s ability to respond to foreign crises.

“It’s astounding that for the price of a couple of helicopters, you can put this much of a dent in our national security,” Marcus told Los Angeles Times reporter Alana Semuels.

Another irony that was not lost on the Times reporter: the cuts would come, she notes, just as the U.S. weighs options for intervening in the war in Syria, and as Hollywood releases a blockbuster about the American Merchant Marine: “Captain Phillips.” The film, which will be released in October, tells the story of the MAERSK ALABAMA, the U.S.-flagged ship hijacked by Somali pirates in 2009.

In the article, Semuels also details a separate proposal which would lessen or eliminate the role of the U.S.-flag fleet in providing food aid to starving people in foreign countries. Rather than shipping American-grown food, it would give developing countries money to use as their officials see fit. That proposal–although recently voted down by a narrow margin in the House of Representatives–is still receiving attention in Washington and could well resurface in the near future. It remains to be seen whether Congressional supporters of the American Merchant Marine will be able to muster the resources necessary to beat it back again.

With less funding for U.S.-flag ships, more companies will flag-out their vessels to foreign registries, which are not required to comply with U.S. safety and security standards, Semuels writes. And when the U.S. military needs American ships for sealift, it will pay far more than the $3.1 subsidy now received by each vessel participating in the Maritime Security Program.

A 2006 study by Military Sealift Command found that if the military were to try and replace the MSP ships it uses with its own vessels, it would have to spend $13 billion. If the military does not have enough American ships, it will either have to trust its supplies to foreign seamen, outsourcing U.S. jobs, or pay for its own military to transport supplies, according to a recent letter on the issue signed by House Armed Services Committee Chair “Buck” McKeon.

“Without funding the MSP and ensuring the continued operation of its maritime security fleet, America would either have to place the safety of our troops and the security of our nation in the hands of foreign shipping interests or be forced to spend billions more of the taxpayer’s dollars,” the letter said.

To read the Los Angeles Times article, go to:,0,3553911.story


Maryland Democrat Barbara Mikulski, a steadfast ally of the American Merchant Marine, wrote to a constituent recently to express her opposition to the policy of sequestration which is threatening the Maritime Security Program and has led to extensive furloughs of government employees. Many members of the MM&P Federal Employees Membership Group (FEMG) who work for the Department of Defense, for example, have been subjected to 15 days of unpaid furloughs under the terms of the law.

“Furloughs have put the livelihoods of over 650,000 people who work hard every day to safeguard our nation into jeopardy,” Mikulski wrote. “These men and women work alongside uniformed personnel and ensure our service members have the resources and support they need. Furloughs have imposed significant financial hardship on hardworking families and I am also deeply concerned about the possible harm caused to our nation’s military readiness.”

As chairwoman of the Appropriations Committee, Mikulski says, she is “focused on working across the aisle, across the dome, and across town with the White House to find a balanced approach to eliminate sequester and end these furloughs. That’s why I joined my Democratic colleagues and offered an alternative to sequestration called the American Family Economic Protection Act (S 388). It would replace the across-the-board cuts this year with a balanced solution that includes new revenue and strategic targeted spending cuts to reduce our debt and grow the economy.” Unfortunately, S388 did not receive the 60 votes needed to advance in the legislative process.

Mikulski also voted in favor of the Senate budget resolution which would replace sequestration with balanced changes to U.S. spending and tax policy to reduce our national debt. But the House of Representatives passed a different budget that retains sequestration and cuts even deeper into essential programs. 

“Sequestration is a terrible policy that should not have gone into effect,” Mikulski wrote. “I assure you I am focused on getting Congress to work together to end furloughs for all federal employees and put our nation back on a fiscally sustainable path.”


The American Merchant Marine is facing unprecedented threats. The battle to defend the jobs of U.S.-citizen mariners has never been so intense. At the same time, many of our allies in Washington, D.C., are facing serious challenges in the upcoming Congressional elections.

Will you stand with us in support of the legislators who stand with MM&P members, retirees and their families at every turn? Your job and your retirement security are directly dependent on the men and women who understand how important a strong U.S.-flag maritime industry is to our nation’s economic, military and homeland security and who are willing to fight for the U.S.-flag merchant marine.

To contribute to the MM&P PCF, go to and click on “Protect Your Job” at the top of the page, or mail a check payable to MM&P PCF to 700 Maritime Blvd., Suite B, Linthicum Heights, MD 21090-1953. 


The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) has decided to disaffiliate from the AFL-CIO, said ILWU International President Robert McEllrath in an Aug. 29 letter to AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “Disaffiliation does not mean that the ILWU intends to go it alone: not by a long shot,” McEllrath said. “The ILWU has and will continue to provide whatever aid and support we can for our fellow trade unionists and workers everywhere. We are committed to working in solidarity with all unions and labor groups, including the Federation and its affiliates, for the advancement of workers, worker rights and progressive issues everywhere.”

The ILWU partners with MM&P and four other unions—the International Longshoremen’s Association, the Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association, the Inland Boatmen’s Union and the American Radio Association—in the Maritime Labor Alliance (MLA). The MLA was formed in 2012 to protect the working conditions and jurisdictional rights of its members.

McEllrath thanked Trumka for the AFL-CIO’s support in longshore contract negotiations in 2002. He wrote, however, that “even in those negotiations, we had to fend off attacks from other national affiliates, who actively tried to undermine our contract struggle by filing legal claims and walking through our picket lines protesting the ten-day employer lockout… at a time when the Bush administration had openly threatened to militarize the ports and even shoot some of us to secure the ports for the coming War in Iraq.”

Since then, McEllrath said, the ILWU has had to contend with “a growing surge of attacks from other AFL-CIO affiliates.” The ILWU also criticized the AFL-CIO for “an overly compromising policy” on issues of crucial importance to working Americans, including health care and workers’ rights. “We feel the Federation has done a great disservice to the labor movement and all working people by going along to get along,” he said.


The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) has sharply criticized an Aug. 28 ruling by a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) administrative law judge who found that the ILWU is not entitled to perform work covered by its collective bargaining agreement with West Coast employers. The work was awarded to IBEW-represented electricians last year in an NLRB ruling that has since been vacated by a federal judge.

“The ALJ’s error about who controls the work, and his reliance on a now-vacated Board decision, will ultimately lead to a court reversal in this case and the ILWU securing the work we’re entitled to under the collective bargaining agreement that [the employer] agreed to follow when it took over operations at Terminal 6,” said Leal Sundet, a longshoreman from Portland who serves as ILWU coast committeeman in San Francisco. “His decision and recommended order are contrary to decisions of industry arbitrators who understand the work at issue here as well as the employer’s obligations to Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) internal labor standards and to the collective agreement that PMA has with the ILWU.”

The ILWU said the ALJ’s preliminary decision is based on “the grossly flawed assumption” that the Port controls the disputed work of monitoring refrigerated containers at Terminal 6 in the Port of Portland. However, the union said the evidence and the law make clear that the work is under the ultimate control, not of the Port, but of the employers of International Longshore and Warehouse Union members, including the steamship carriers.

The ALJ’s decision and recommended order are not binding legal precedent unless and until they are enforced pursuant to a judgment of a federal court.


Thousands of fast food workers walked off their jobs in 58 U.S. cities on Aug. 29, protesting what they call “an economy that’s producing little more than McJobs.” From a McDonald’s in Peoria, Ill., to a Burger King in Durham, N.C., the one-day strikes hit businesses in dozens of cities and towns. Organizers estimated a thousand restaurants were affected. Some picket lines turned into temporary occupations, and several stores closed. Los Angeles protesters occupied a Subway sandwich shop carryings signs that read “$15 and a Union.”

The strikes shut down some restaurants. In others only a few workers walked off the job, leaving managers scrambling to fill shifts. A Jimmy John’s sandwich shop in Seattle was staffed entirely by managers and had to suspend deliveries, while a Burger King in Houston closed for lunch when most of the shift joined the picket line.

In Memphis, 50 workers and supporters picketed a McDonald’s as cars honked and pedestrians shouted their support. “McDonald’s makes $5 billion a year,” said Anthony Cathey, a striker from the restaurant. “They treat us like slaves. We can’t make ends meet.”

In New York, workers picketing a midtown McDonald’s were joined by politicians and sympathetic clergy. John Valdez, who walked out of a McDonald’s in midtown Manhattan, said he has now worked for three McDonald’s locations over four years, and knows all the jobs. He worked his way up from $7.25 to $7.55 an hour, but when he changed stores, they bumped him back down to $7.25 again. “It’s not fair, that’s why everybody’s here today,” he said.

And there’s hardly any room at the top of the ladder. Only 2.2 percent of jobs in fast food are professional or managerial, according to a recent report by the National Employment Law Project, “Going Nowhere Fast.” Front-line occupations like cooks, cashiers, and delivery drivers make up 89.1 percent of fast food jobs, with a median hourly pay of $8.94. Their supervisors make $13.06 per hour, but only comprise 8.7 percent of fast food jobs. And franchise owners have to prove assets of three quarters of a million dollars in most cases, the report said, so working your way up to ownership on minimum wage–a supposed benefit touted by the fast food chains–is not realistic.

Burger King striker Tamara Green, in her 30s, said she’s close to finishing her college degree. But she said she knows that as good jobs are destroyed, a degree is not the ticket it once was. “I have college grads standing next to me and making a burger,” she told the New York crowd.

There are signs that the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is putting substantial resources into the fast food industry campaign, with as many as 10 full-time organizers each in several cities. The union also recently announced it will be hiring researchers to focus on the fast food sector.

In related news, since Walmart workers began speaking out last fall through strikes and other actions protesting low wages, scanty benefits, poor working conditions and what they say is abusive treatment by management, they’ve paid a price. According to the worker group Our Walmart, 20 employees were fired and more than 50 disciplined after they took part in a strike against the retail giant in June. Last week in Washington, D.C., nine workers who lost their jobs at Walmart after participating in a strike and one current employee were arrested for civil disobedience when they held a sit-in in Walmart’s Washington, D.C., offices.


A 90-day shipping rules/work rules ballot will be mailed to members of the Offshore Group on Sept. 9. For the first time, members will be able to choose between voting their ballot electronically or by mail. The deadline for voting your ballot online (or for receipt of your ballot at the Linthicum, MD, post office) is 9:00 a.m. on Dec. 9.

A link to vote your ballot electronically will be posted on on Sept. 9. You can also go directly to the balloting agency’s site: To vote your ballot, you will need the PIN number included in your ballot package. After entering your vote, wait for the confirmation page to appear before closing. After you submit your vote, it will be made anonymous and you will be recorded as having voted.

Complete instructions are included in the information packet that will be mailed to all Offshore members on Sept. 9. You may vote in the election between Sept. 9, 2013, at 3:00 PM ET and Dec. 9, 2013, at 9:00 AM ET.

If you do not receive a ballot, or if you accidentally lose or destroy your ballot, you may request a duplicate by contacting Beverly Gutmann at, 410-850-8700, Ext. 112, or Juli Rodriguez at 410-850-8700, Ext. 129.


The MM&P New Orleans Hall has moved. Effective Aug. 30, the new address is: 347 Girod St., Suite B, Mandeville LA 70448-5891. The phone and fax will remain the same.


MM&P Offshore Vice President Don Josberger will hold a meeting for MM&P members in the union hall in San Juan on Monday, Sept. 9, at 1100 hours. MM&P Regional Representative Eduardo Iglesias will also be present. All MM&P members in all membership groups are encouraged to attend the meeting for a general discussion of issues important to the maritime industry.


The monthly membership meeting at the MM&P New York/New Jersey Hall will be held on Thursday, Sept. 12, instead of on Wednesday. All members in the area are encouraged to attend the meeting, which will be held at 1100 hours.


The Merchant Marine Personnel Advisory Committee (MERPAC) will meet Sept. 11-12 at MITAGS. Topics on the agenda include: crew training requirements onboard natural gas-fueled vessels other than LNG carriers and competency requirements for vessel personnel working in polar regions. To find out more, see the notice that was published in the Federal Register: 78 Fed. Reg. 51736 (Aug. 21, 2013).


The 2006 Maritime Labor Convention (MLC) entered into force on Aug. 20. 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.


MITAGS needs your current address! Have you moved recently? Did you remember to send MITAGS your new address for communications regarding courses? Please send your current contact information to or to the fax number below.

New dedicated fax line for Admissions only: 1-443-568-1928. For all other MITAGS business, please continue to use: 410-859-5181.

For class availability or information on MITAGS courses and programs, contact Kelly Michielli, Admissions Coordinator, toll-free at 866-656-5568 or by e-mail: Why not try our on-line calendar to register for class:

AB – Able Seaman: 10/14/13

AIS-1 – Automatic Identification Systems Orientation: 11/21/13

ARPA – Automated Radar Plotting Aids: 9/24/13, 10/29/13

BRM – Bridge Resource Management: 8/26/13, 12/16/13

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

BST – Basic Safety Training: 10/7/13

CHS-BAS – Cargo Handling Basic: 10/21/13

CONSTB – Ship Construction and Basic Stability: 1/27/14

[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:  10/28/13

CMM-ADVWX – 11/18/13

CMM-CHS – Advanced Cargo Operations (2 weeks): 11/4/13

CMM-ECDIS – Electronic Chart Display Information System: 9/9/13, 10/28/13, 12/16/13

CMM-MPP – Marine Propulsion Plants: 8/26/13, 10/21/13

CMM-SHMGT – Ship Management (2 weeks): 10/7/13

CMM-SHS-ADV-I – Advanced Shiphandling (week 1): 9/9/13, 9/23/13, 10/21/13, 11/4/13, 12/2/13

CMM-SHS-ADV-I I – Advanced Shiphandling (week 2): 9/16/13, 9/30/13, 10/28/13, 11/11/13, 12/9/13

CMM-VPEN – 9/16/13

CMM-WKP – Advanced Watchkeeping: 9/30/13, 12/16/13

CNAV – 9/30/13, 11/4/13

CONT PLNG – 11/5/13

ECDIS-ENAV – 10/1/13

ECDIS-OICNW – 10/14/13

ENVIRO-Regs Permit – Environmental Regulations Permit: 8/26/13, 11/4/13

EP – 10/30/13

FSM – Fatigue, Sleep and Medications:  9/18/13

FF-BADV – Combined Basic and Advanced Fire Fighting: 10/7/13

GMDSS – Global Maritime Distress and Safety System: 3/17/14

HAZ – Hazardous Materials (5 day): 9/16/13, 12/2/13

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: 12/2/13

LEG – Legal Aspects of Pilotage: 9/25/13, 10/8/13

MCL – Management, Communications and Leadership

MCL OICNW –Management, Communications, and Leadership OICNW level: 9/6/13

MEDIA-RSP – Media Response Workshop:  11/6/13

MED-PIC – Medical Person in Charge: 9/9/13, 10/14/13, 12/2/13

MED-PIC -R– Medical Person in Charge Refresher: 11/11/13

MED-PRO – Medical Care Provider: 9/9/13, 10/14/13, 10/28/13, 12/2/13

MED-DOT-DA – Dept. of Transportation Drug & Alcohol Testing: 9/14/13, 10/12/13, 10/19/13, 12/7/13

MSC -SMA – Military Sealift Command Small Arms Qualification:  9/30/13, 11/11/13

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

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

ROR-1 – Radar Observer Renewal: 9/23/13, 10/28/13

ROR-1N – Radar Observer Renewal Evening Classes: 8/28/13, 9/11/13, 9/18/13, 10/2/13, 10/9/13, 10/16/13, 10/30/13, 11/13/13, 12/4/13, 12/11/13

ROP-5 – Radar Observer Original and Renewal: 10/21/13

SAR – 10/28/13

SEC-VSO – Vessel Security Officer: 9/3/13, 10/14/13, 11/6/13

SHS-BAS – Basic Shiphandling:  10/7/13, 11/18/13

SHS-EMR5 – Emergency Shiphandling: 10/14/13

SHS-ESH-BRMP3 – Emergency Shiphandling and Bridge Resource Management for Pilots: 3/5/14

SEC-MSA – 9/16/13 PM, 10/17/13 PM, 11/12PM, 12/10/13 PM

SEC-VPDSD – 9/17/13, 10/18/13, 11/13/13, 12/11/13

SEC-VSO – 10/14/13, 11/6

TCNAV/CO – Terrestrial Navigation and Compasses: 1/6/14

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

TTT – Train the Trainer: 4/7/14

WKP-BAS – 11/4/13

WX-BAS – Basic Meteorology: 9/16/13

…And 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.


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

September 2013

9th         Radar Renewal
9th         Medical DOT
9-13       Tankerman Person-In-Charge
9-13       Basic Shiphandling
9-20       GMDSS
11-12     Designated Person Ashore
16-20     Train the Trainer
19-21     Z-Drive/Tractor Tug Training
23-27     ECDIS

October 2013

1-2          Vessel Security Officer
7-11       Radar Observer Unlimited
7-18       GMDSS
14th       Radar Renewal
15-18     ARPA
21-25     Basic Construction and Stability
21-25     Medical Care Provider
21-1       Medical Person-in-Charge
23rd       RFPNW Assessments
28-1       Emergency Procedures/Search and Rescue
28-1       ECDIS

November 2013

4th         Med DOT
11th       Radar Renewal
11-22     GMDSS
18-20     Vessel Security Officer
18-22     ECDIS

December 2013

2-6          Tankerman Person-in-Charge
2-6          Medical Care Provider
2-13       Medical Person-in-Charge
2-13       GMDSS
9-13       ECDIS
11th       Med DOT

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.

© 2013, 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