It has been a while since my last post. With the August recess looming near for Congress now is a good time to place a marker on where the maritime industry is in 2013. While much has happened this year, more notable is what HAS NOT happened. Here is a list of four things:
1. The Obama administration has not learned anything about US-flag shipping. In a recent economic speech in Jacksonville the President said, and I paraphrase, “We need to build warehouses here so that the supertankers coming through the Panama Canal to Jacksonville can grow industry here.” Now, I don’t entirely fault the President. He does not have the time to study in depth what probably seems to him to be an esoteric subject. But the person writing his speech has the time to research and should use that time to find out why supertankers cannot go into Jacksonville and why warehouses are unrelated. See the clip here.
2. The USCG has not promulgated the final rule on the STCW Manila Amendments. It will be here by October we are told. The umpteenth letter to Janet Napolitano from the maritime industry begging her to finalize the rule must have gotten her attention on her way out the door.
3. The United States has not ratified the Maritime Labor Convention. To date, 43 member states have ratified the convention, ensuring it will take effect in two weeks. With precepts that guarantee things such as decent living quarters and rest periods for mariners it is unlikely this Senate, which was unable to ratify a treaty on basic standards for handicapped persons, will even consider the Maritime Labor Convention. This puts U.S.-flag vessels sailing overseas at a disadvantage and, frankly, is a black eye on the United States within the international community.
4. Despite its best efforts, American Maritime Officers (AMO) has not been able to lower working standards for its members and the rest of the industry. Per a recent Freedom of Information Act request it has been discovered that AMO officials requested that the Department of Labor recognize AMO lower wages and benefits packages as the predominant industry standard so that crew members’ wages on all government ships can be lowered. The last I checked, unions exist to improve the lives of their members. It is hard to believe AMO members put up with this sort of representation.
We have much to look forward to in the months to come. Check back regularly for maritime updates.