The Metal Trades Department, AFL-CIO, joins with its allied national labor unions to endorse the bipartisan pro-union Tax Fairness for Workers Act (H.R. 2549 / S. 1157).
The AFL-CIO and 51 national unions issued the accompanying letter urging Congress to prioritize reinstating a federal tax deduction for workers’ union dues and enact it in 2022, stating the deduction “would deliver direct cash tax benefits to millions of middle-class Americans, help increase union membership, and strengthen labor unions’ capacity to negotiate for increased wages, better benefits and safer healthier workplaces.”
After World War II, the United States was the world’s leading shipbuilder. But in 1981, President Reagan eliminated its long-standing subsidy program which left American shipyards to compete with heavily subsidized foreign rivals like China. Today, the U.S. ranks 19th in the world for commercial shipbuilding, accounting for just 0.35 percent of global new construction. And we have become heavily dependent on China and East Asia for products and resources, most of which are imported by sea.
AMERICA NEEDS A COMMERCIAL SHIPS ACT. Each day, our nation falls further behind in our ability to compete in the global marketplace. To that end, we must build Jones Act ships if we are to meet the global challenges of energy independence, food insecurity, the supply chain crisis, inflation, and our national security. We cannot afford to continue to operate with a fleet of less than 200 U.S.-flagged, Jones Act commercial vessels, when China has become a shipping superpower with more than 5,000.
We need legislation that would set a national maritime strategy. Federal investment in rebuilding our shipbuilding industrial base and innovation to create advanced manufacturing facilities. Those investments would support shipbuilders, shipyard workers, and shipping companies and enable America to compete in a global market.
The affiliated unions that comprise the AFL-CIO Metal Trades Department believe in American exceptionalism. We know that as a nation we can solve any problem with creativity and hard work. But for more than 40-years, our government has kicked the can down the road rather than invest in a real maritime strategy.
You Can’t Create Good Paying Union Jobs if You Don’t Build Jones Act Ships
The Department of Energy Wind Technologies Office recently posted “10 Things You Didn’t Know About Offshore Wind Energy” on its website. While the post is great, it should have been 11 things. The 11th item would note: ‘America needs to develop the manufacturing and production infrastructure necessary to build offshore wind farms. We need to build Jones Act-compliant ships.’
Currently, the U.S. does not have the tug boats, barges, short sea vessels, breakers, and lift vessels needed to erect wind farms. However, America could meet the challenge if Mid-Atlantic and North East states like New York invested in Steel Kit Shipbuilding factories. Investment in new and exciting clean technology and manufacturing techniques will create good-paying, family-sustaining, union jobs in places much like the Ports of Albany, Oswego, and Lackawanna.
New York state has heavily invested in offshore wind with five projects in active development. Steel Kit Shipbuilding factories strategically located at NY Ports would help the state meet its goal of 9,000 megawatts by 2035 and ensure Jones Act compliance in the wind industry.Without investment in rebuilding the maritime infrastructure footprint, there is no way NY or any state can meet the clean energy goals President Biden and the U.S. envision.
Investment in our nation’s Jones Act fleet is imperative if we are to solve our supply chain crisis, achieve America’s clean energy initiatives and maintain our national security. It’s time to build Steel Kit Shipbuilding factories!
After years of trying by our local metal trades council affiliates, who time and again were obstructed by the company from organizing metal trades workers employed by Vigor Industrial at Specialty Finisher Painters in Swan Island, Portland, OR, and Vigor Alaska ship repair yard in Ketchikan, workers will finally enjoy metal trades union representation.
“The Department salutes Portland Metal Trades President and IUPAT Local 10 Labor Relations Representative Scott Oldham and Puget Sound Metal Trades Council President and SMART Local Union 66 Business Agent Kaley Rhode for leading the way with these impressive organizing wins,” said Metal Trades Department President, Jimmy Hart.
“Many thanks to the organizers, affiliates, and workers who stood together and declared, ‘UNION YES’ during this summer of the worker!”
“Through hard-nosed and contentious collective bargaining with Vigor Industrial earlier this year, determined negotiators obtained unprecedented wage gains and improved working conditions at these two shipbuilding and repair councils,” said Metal Trades Department General Representative Ben Heurung. “Our local metal trades council affiliates have paved the way for aggressive and determined brothers and sisters at the IUPAT and SMART to bring these new workers into the fold. The department looks forward to working with the councils to help our valued metal trades partners at SMART and IUPAT win the all-important first contract.”
These newly organized workers will add to the count of more than 1000 unionized Vigor shipbuilding and repair workers in Portland, Seattle, Honolulu, and Ketchikan.
Welcome to the Vigor Industrial Metal Trades Family!
Metal Trades Department Steward Training
Metal Trades Department President Jimmy Hart and General Representative Dale Troll conducted a Metal Trades Department Steward Training Class for members of the Columbus and Wiregrass Metal Trades Councils and members of UA Local Union 72, at their union headquarters in Atlanta, GA.
The Metal Trades Steward Training Program isdesigned to prepare members to recognize potential grievances and investigate and represent bargaining unit members in lower-level grievance hearings and investigatory meetings.
The workshop and class emphasize the rights and obligations of stewards in resolving workplace issues. Classes are tailored to address the needs of unions and participants. If your local council or affiliated local union needs such training, the department is pleased to facilitate such. If interested please contact Department Operations Director Lisa Johnson by telephone at 202-508-3705 or by email at Ljohnson@metaltrades.org
Hart Addresses VPPPA Safety+ Symposium
With what has become his trademark declaration, Metal Trades Department President Jimmy Hart addressed the annual VPPPA Safety+ Symposium in Washington, DC, late last month, stating, “you will find Metal Trades workers on the sea, in the air, and on land… The Metal Trades is everywhere!”
“On behalf of the leadership of the Department, its 17 international union affiliates, and our local Metal Trades councils, I salute the dedication of workers and employers to Voluntary Protection Plan efforts,” Hart said.
The VPPPA holds the only national educational event for VPP worksites and its practitioners devoted to achieving and maintaining safety and health excellence.
“The Metal Trades Department and its local councils and affiliates believe in VPPPA, and I am thankful for the opportunity to engage with my fellow attendees to exchange ideas, gain new perspectives, and grow professionally,” said Hart.
Metal Trades affiliates and local councils are of the firm belief that no matter your origins, every worker has the same right to a safe and healthy workplace.
President Hart congratulated the newly reelected officials of the VPPPA and the fabled Hanford metal trades worker and contractor community who were recognized and awarded the VPPPA Safety & Health Outreach Award. “Worker contractor relationships at Hanford and within the broader community provide real-time collaboration that results in a safer work environment for Hanford site workers for generations to come.”
President Hart concluded his remarks by noting that “when labor and management work together and embrace one another’s voice and mission, they ensure worker safety becomes a widely practiced, shared, and cherished core value.”
Conference Hotel Block Deadline Rapidly Approaching
Conference attendees may register and book their hotel room online using the Metal Trades Conference registration website. Book your hotel by selecting the “Hotel Reservation” tab. Should you or your group choose not to avail yourselves of the online registration service in booking your room reservations, you can contact the hotel Reservation Center directly at (866-317-1829). Please be advised that you will incur a $15.00 processing fee for all reservations made directly with the hotel. The department has negotiated a special room rate of $145.00 per night, plus tax and resort fee ($25.00). Be sure to reference the Metal Trades if registering by phone. Reservations must be made by Monday, September 12, 2022, to receive this rate. Reservations made after the cutoff are subject to availability and increased rates may apply.
The 2022 Annual Metal Trades Department Conference will be held October 31-November 3, 2022. The theme for this year’s Conference is, ‘The Metal Trades: A Salute to Women in Labor’
The Department invites you to plan your trip in order that you may attend all Conference associated functions including the Annual Charity Golf Tournament, to benefit the Guide Dogs of America-Tender Loving Canines on Monday, October 31, at Desert Pines Golf Club; Affiliate caucus meetings on Tuesday, November 1; General Session meetings on November 2-3; and our always enjoyable Welcome Reception on Wednesday, November 2, at the Planet Hollywood Pool.
Our meeting agenda, meeting notices, logistics, and sponsorship opportunities are available for download from our registration website at mtdregistration.com.
FROM THE DESK OF METAL TRADES DEPARTMENT PRESIDENT JAMES HART
The Next Big Shipbuilding Market
Upgrading, renewing, and expanding the Jones Act fleet is the next huge shipbuilding opportunity in the world today.
It has been more than three decades since America held the number one position in worldwide tonnage production. In the intervening 30 plus years Germany, the Netherlands, Japan, Korea, and now China have ascended to the top of the worldwide shipbuilding industry, building large fleets of new marine assets for the global economy. Today foreign yards are sold out through 2027.
Now it is time for the United States’ shipyards to shift into high gear to repeat our unmatched WWII producing record of more than 5,000 marine assets in a little over three years. Today, we estimate that we will need over 10,000 new marine assets to fulfill our needs over the next ten years, including hundreds of multipurpose container and offshore wind feeders, cable layers, new barges, thousands of fishing vessels, a fleet of new high-powered tugs to handle the new fleet of VLCVs (Very Large Container Vessels) and the list goes on and on.
A few of the benefits of new modern marine assets:
The ability to standardize vessels built in series, lowering construction costs
New marine assets operate for less; new technology is simply more efficient
Standardized vessels can be and are operated by interchangeable crews, just like airplanes
New vessels are more fuel efficient and environmentally friendly than old technologies
New marine assets have lower repair and maintenance costs as standard parts are available
New vessels will comply with IMO and new environmental standards
Modern vessels are insurable
New vessels can be financed at lower rates in today’s low interest environment
New Jones Act assets are subject to ten-year depreciation schedules and are eligible for tax credits
And the list goes on and on and on…………………
Meeting our nation’s present and future commercial maritime needs is a Herculean task. We can and we must succeed as renewing and expanding our Jones Act fleets are essential for our nation’s economic and national security future. However, history has taught us over and over again that with every every big idea there are huge opportunities and financial rewards for those willing to take the risk and challenge the status quo.
U.S. Supreme Court Strikes Down Workers’ Compensation Carve Out for Nuclear Workforce;
AG Ferguson Vows Workers will Remain Protected
The U.S. Supreme Court in June said the state of Washington could not in a 2018 law lower the bar for federal contractors who work at a decomissioned nuclear weapons plant to receive workers’ compensation benefits.
The decision by the court says the state could not single out the Hanford facility in the law because the federal government had not explicitly waived its typical immunity from discriminatory state laws with respect to workers’ compensation.
Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who has been a champion for workers at Hanford, and was honored by the Metal Trades Department for his work in 2016, said the ruling will have little practical impact because of the recent amendments to the law.
“Hanford workers, and all others working with dangerous radioactive waste, remain protected,” Ferguson said.
MTD, Shipbuilding Partners Issue Whitepaper Calling for Policy Changes to Ease Supply Chain Distribution; Utilize American Green Marine Highway
Metal Trades Department, in collaboration with domestic and international entities recently produced a whitepaper outlining industry and policy changes that will help alleviate the debilitating stress endured by the current supply chain distribution system which will help eliminate congestion in our streets, and revitalizing our coastal and inland waterways and communities.
In the paper, the Metal Trades Department says “our stated goal is to build 200 Jones Act compliant small container (feeders) vessels economically for the American Green Marine Highway by 2030.”
It further calls for utilizing the American Green Marine Highway (AGMH) to transport containers, relieve gridlock, and erect offshore wind farms.
The Department believes its plan will create good-paying union jobs for all segments of the maritime and construction industry in the shipyards, terminals, and ports.
Free College Benefit Provider EGCC Suspended Over Violation of Title IV
We were made aware recently that Eastern Gateway Community College (EGCC), the school where we have sent many of our Metal Trades union members and their family members since 2016, is being forced to suspend the Free College Program immediately.
The Department of Education has made the determination that the program violates Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended, 20 U.S.C. 1070etseq.(Title IV), which prohibits assessing charges to recipients eligible for Title IV financial assistance that are higher than those charges assessed to non-Title IV recipients and has notified EGCC to cease providing the benefit immediately. We had no control over this decision and were disappointed to hear it. EGCC disputes these charges, and you can read their response here:https://egcc.edu/press-release/.
We are working hard to get answers to all the questions raised by this decision. This decision not only affects our members but every other union that was offering this benefit.
Rest assured, all the unions engaged in this program are exploring every possible angle to find a way to continue some version of Free College for union members.
Puget Sound President Troy Andrews Retires
Puget Sound MTC President Troy Andrews with President Biden during a Shipyard visit
Troy Andrews has served on the Puget Sound Metal Trades Council in one capacity or another for more than a decade. Beginning in 2010 as a delegate, Andrews then became Trustee for the Council from 2015 to 2016 and Vice President from 2017 to 2020. In 2021, Andrews became president. And, on July 1, 2022, Andrews officially retired.
“Troy will be missed,” says Metal Trades Department President Jimmy Hart. “His hard work and
dedication to the members of Puget Sound Metal Trades Council has enriched the lives of so many. We wish him a long and happy retirement.”
A member of the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA) Local 252, Andrews began his career in 1980.
Since joining the union, Andrews has been active in Local 252 as a business manager and with the Pierce County Building Trades.
SMART Local 66 member Kal Rhode was elected president of the Council replacing Andrews. Steve Miller, IAMAW District Lodge 160, was elected as vice president.
Reminder: Metal Trades Department Annual Conference Registration is Open
On behalf of the Metal Trades Department, AFL-CIO, it is my pleasure to invite you to join us at our 2022 Annual Metal Trades Department Conference which will be held October 31-November 3, 2022, at Planet Hollywood Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas.
The theme for this year’s Conference is, ‘The Metal Trades: A Salute to Women in Labor’
Although the Conference is still in the planning stages, the Department invites you to plan your trip in order that you may attend all Conference associated functions.
The Department will host its Annual Charity Golf Tournament, to benefit the Guide Dogs of America-Tender Loving Canines on Monday, October 31. Affiliate caucus meetings will take place on Tuesday, November 1. Our meeting agenda, meeting notices, logistics, and sponsorship opportunities are available for download from our registration website at mtdregistration.com.
Confirmed speakers include SEIU President Mary Kay Henry; IFPTE Secretary-Treasurer Gay Henson; IAMAW Secretary-Treasurer Dora Cervantes; and ULLICO Life and Health President Stephanie Waylen. The Department expects to add additional confirmed speakers from government, industry, and labor in the coming weeks.
MacLiesh Appointed Single Point of Contact at Vigor
Heather MacLiesh, a journeyman welder/fitter, and member of SMART local 16 has been appointed as the Single Point of Contact at Vigor Industrial. MacLiesh, has been with Vigor for about two years and previously served as the craft steward for Local 16.
Vigor’s Single Point of Contact (SPC) position is the sole individual responsible for receiving and distributing information from Vigor management to its various labor unions. As SPC, MacLiesh acts as the liaison of information on everything from new hires and terminations, disciplinary action, layoffs, personnel changes, pay rate and
classification changes and payroll dues deductions. She then supplies the Council and each individual union the information for their records.
The SPC meets with the company regularly, either electronically or in person, to address any issues of importance. Daily topics of discussion may include corrective action reports, project stand downs, closures due to inclement weather, training needs, or staffing changes.
MacLiesh is also responsible for processing all representational information, scheduling council trainings, archiving copies of company policies, procedures, instructions, MOUs and bargaining information for labor and management.
In her capacity as SPC, MacLiesh also addresses any questions union members may have and working directly with the lead and craft stewards on site to ensure everything is running smoothly for them. She meets with the lead and craft stewards every other week to discuss their issues.
“I love this new position,” says MacLiesh. “It allows me to help my fellow union brothers and sisters by building relationships and opening lines of communication between labor and management.”
MacLiesh says that she is hoping she can maintain a positive work environment for everyone through her work as SPC and looks forward to the challenges this position offers.
The true meaning of Memorial Day often gets lost to pool parties, beach trips, and backyard barbeques. But Memorial Day is in fact a day of remembrance. A day to honor the sacrifices made by the men and women who have died in service to the United States military.
As we watch our allies in Ukraine battle to save their democracy, it reminds me of something former Secretary of State Madeline Albright once said, “while democracy in the long run is the most stable form of government, in the short run, it is among the most fragile.”
Democracy is precious and freedom is precarious. The men and women of our military fight every day to preserve the American way of life. Their sacrifices deserve our honor and respect every day. But on this day, it is most important that we remember the fallen soldiers. That we honor their sacrifices and strive to build an America that our service members can be proud to represent.
Within the labor movement, we have the opportunity to contribute to a better America every day by organizing, supporting, and representing each other. The labor movement, in particular those represented within the Metal Trades, are the bulwark of democracy and the stronger we are, the stronger America is. The Metal Trades and its partners and allies will always defend democracy, your rights at work, and your freedom in society.
On behalf of the Metal Trades Department staff, executive council, and members, I wish you a safe and happy Memorial Day weekend. I invite you to take time to remember those who lost their lives so that we are free to live ours. I hope you all stay safe and healthy. God bless you. God bless our fallen soldiers and God bless America.