Maritime Labor Alliance Leadership Summit
The presidents and other elected officials of the constituent unions comprising the Maritime Labor Alliance (MLA) met for their semi-annual meeting in Washington D.C. on Wednesday, October 14, 2015 to review the state of maritime labor in the United States and to establish priorities for the upcoming year.
The Alliance, consisting of six of the country’s leading maritime labor organizations, American Radio Association (ARA), Inlandboatmen’s Union (IBU), International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA), International Longshore & Warehouse Union (ILWU), Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association (MEBA) and International Organization of Masters, Mates & Pilots(IOMM&P), reflected on their success in maintaining industry labor standards in an increasingly hostile business and legislative environment and laid out plans to successfully meet the challenges ahead.
Following a discussion of anti-labor legislation proposed in the U.S. Congress to strip collective bargaining and free association rights away from longshoremen as well as ongoing broadsides against the Jones Act and the proliferation of so-called “Free Trade” bills designed to concentrate more wealth in the hands of the few, the Maritime Labor Alliance members pledged to act in solidarity on Capitol Hill as well as on the waterfront. The need to protect the hard-fought successes of the most recent longshore contract campaigns on the East and Gulf Coasts as well as, more recently, on the West Coast, and the need to work cooperatively to organize the non-union sectors of the maritime industry were among the many items on the agenda.
Key among the decisions at Wednesday’s meeting, was the election of a slate of executive officers and the appointment of an Executive Director to coordinate alliance activities. IOMM&P President Don Marcus was re-elected to serve as President of the alliance, MEBA Secretary-Treasurer Bill Van Loo was elected to serve as MLA Secretary-Treasurer, and Dr. Thomas J Mackell, Jr was appointed by the members of the alliance board to serve in the new position of Executive Director.
“Tom brings a great deal of experience to the table and knows his way around Washington,” said Harold Daggett, President of the ILA. “Working in conjunction with the legislative representatives of all of our unions, we will make our voices heard where it counts in Washington as well as on the Docks.” An expert on employee benefit plans, former Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond and author of the book “When the Good Pensions Go Away: Why America Needs a New Deal for Pension and Health Care Reform,” Dr. Mackell also serves as Special Advisor to the International President of the International Longshoremen’s Association, for political, legislative and public affairs.
Discussing the current situation on the docks with regards to some of the proposed legislation in Congress, ILWU President Robert McEllrath stated that “these bills are ‘speed-up’ bills, designed to put productivity ahead of safety; they will result in more workers deaths, and are attacks on labor. We will fight this to the bitter end.”
Conducted at the Headquarters of the Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association, the meeting participants also included ARA President John Radcliffe, IBU President Alan Cote, the host, MEBA President Marshall Ainley as well as numerous other elected officials and legislative professionals from the unions.
The Board meeting concluded with the pledge of mutual support from Coast to Coast between the unions. Policy statements and coordinated activities will follow.
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