Though only in its fourth year, the annual U.S. Maritime Industry Congressional Sail-In has become a signature event in the nation’s capital. Earlier this month, the Seafarers International Union (SIU) officials helped make the 2013 gathering another success, as 135 participants from all segments of the industry were involved in 157 meetings with members of the House and Senate or their staff.
Although many topics were covered in those meetings on May 8 – organized by the United States Maritime Coalition, to which the SIU is affiliated – the main ones included the vital need to maintain three pillars of U.S. maritime: Food for Peace, the Maritime Security Program, and the Jones Act. The timing proved opportune as U.S.-flag maritime supporters from both sides of the aisle and from the industry itself are working to preserve cargo preference or Food for Peace, a time-tested program that is being threatened by budget cuts.
Overall, 104 of the Sail-In meetings took place in the House (including 61 with freshmen members) while 53 happened in the Senate.
“For many reasons, including the fact that in large part we were meeting with many more members and staff this year new to maritime issues, this was considered our best Sail-In ever,” noted one of the event’s planners. “Enthusiasm was high all around.”
Representing the SIU at the meetings were Executive Vice President Augie Tellez, Vice President Gulf Coast Dean Corgey, Vice President West Coast Nick Marrone, Vice President Great Lakes Tom Orzechowski, Vice President Government Services Kermett Mangram and Vice President Atlantic Coast Joseph Soresi.
The union officials described the Sail-In as a time when virtually every segment of the maritime industry comes together to brief Congress on how the United States can be made stronger and safer. Working together, they pointed out, maritime personnel from the Great Lakes, inland rivers, deep seas and beyond help boost America’s national and homeland security while promoting much-needed job growth here at home.
As in years past, meeting participants – including shipowners, operators and rank-and-file workers – thanked elected officials for their previous support and encouraged their continued backing of the aforementioned programs along with other maritime initiatives that protect national and economic security while promoting American jobs.
In a related event, U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) on May 7 received the prestigious “Salute to Congress” award during an annual dinner in suburban D.C.
SIU, May 16, 2013