ITF affiliated unions in the USA along with hundreds of thousands of seafarers are celebrating 100 years of the Jones Act – the law that requires cargo be moved from one domestic US port to another on board US crewed, flagged, built and owned vessels.
The Jones Act has been crucial to the US maritime industry. It has ensured that workers in US shipyards and seafarers working aboard ships in the US domestic trade are employed in safe and well-paid jobs.
“The Jones Act remains a pillar of not only the United States maritime industry, but also our country’s national, economic and homeland security,” stated Seafarers International Union (SIU) President Michael Sacco. “It’s a source of family-wage jobs both on the water and ashore. It protects our nation in so many ways.”
Since it was enacted, the Jones Act has enjoyed broad bipartisan support from the White House and throughout the halls of Congress. US Congress. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, D-N.Y., chairman of the Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation, released the following statement on the 100th anniversary of the Jones Act:
“The bedrock principles and protections of the Jones Act are as essential today as they were when the bill was passed a century ago. We are, at our core, a maritime nation. The U.S. merchant marine enables the country to project force anywhere around the globe and ensures the security of our waters at home. We cannot be complacent in our defense of the Jones Act, which remains a critical component of U.S. maritime and military strategy.”
Chairman Maloney went on to say, “Throughout our history, the Army has relied on U.S.-flagged commercial vessels and American mariners to carry weapons and supplies and ferry troops to the battlefield. We’ve confronted many challenges since its inception, but the Jones Act has ensured that the men and women of the merchant marine have been there to meet them.”
The Jones Act and the protections and benefits it affords to domestic seafarers in the US is internationally lauded by ITF affiliated maritime unions. It is the standard towards which other national seafarers and their unions strive to achieve, since it protects the right and opportunity to work in their national trade on higher national wages and working conditions. The Jones Act also helps to raise global wages and working conditions for seafarers in international trades through its establishment of such high standards.
Over the years, there have been several attempts by foreign interests to dismantle the Jones Act but the US unions supported by their seafarers, their social partners and the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) have vigorously defended the Jones Act against all attacks.
ITF Cabotage task Force Chair and President of SIU Canada James Given said: “The ITF congratulates US seafarers and their unions on the 100-year anniversary of the Jones Act. We will continue to give our full support to our sisters and brothers to defend the Jones Act against foreign companies that want to use foreign flagged vessels so that they can undermine US wages and working conditions that have been so hard fought for and won.
“The Seafarers’ Rights International 2018 study found that over 90 countries have some type of cabotage law to protect their maritime industry, but the Jones Act is still the “flagship” of cabotage laws and seafarers’ unions worldwide stand together to ensure that national conditions for national seafarers in national trade are not eroded by Flag of Convenience vessels. Let’s continue to raise the bar for the seafarers and the maritime industry,” Given added.
On this day of reflection and celebration for US maritime labour, the ITF commends the hard work and dedication of its US affiliates who have fought diligently to maintain this important Act and all the benefits it yields to working men and women both throughout the USA and internationally.