Legislators of the Year Named by Great Lakes Maritime Task Force
Congressmen Peter J. Visclosky (D-IN) and Jack Quinn (R-NY) were named Legislators of the Year by the Great Lakes Maritime Task Force at the Task Force's annual Informational Breakfast for the Great Lakes Delegation in Washington on May 2, 2001, after which GLMTF issued the following news release:
"Great Lakes Maritime Task Force is thankful there are Congressmen like Pete Visclosky and Jack Quinn who are dedicated to promoting and protecting basic American industries such as steel and Great Lakes shipping," said Daniel L. Smith, President of GLMTF and Vice President of American Maritime Officers, a union representing licensed officers on many U.S.-Flag "lakers." "Representative Visclosky is in the forefront of efforts to save America's steel industry from the unfair trade that has pushed 16 American steelmakers into bankruptcy in the past three years. He knows that if America's steel industry founders, hundreds of thousands of family-sustaining jobs at the mills and in supply industries will be gone forever and the country's
national defense capabilities irreparably harmed."
GLMTF was founded in 1992 to promote domestic and international waterborne commerce on the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway. The coalition is a broad blend of labor and management drawn from U.S.-Flag ship operators and shipboard unions, terminal operators and longshoremen's locals, shipyards and others involved in waterborne commerce that have united to achieve this common goal. Great Lakes steel mills generate much of the cargo moving on the Great Lakes, so
when unfair trade batters that industry, Great Lakes shipping is similarly impacted.
"The continued dumping of foreign steel is keeping one U.S.-Flag laker tied to the dock this season and delayed the spring sailing of many other American ships," said George J. Ryan, 1st Vice President of GLMTF and President of Lake Carriers' Association. "More ships and mariners would be idle, but Congressman Visclosky has continually prodded Federal agencies to enforce our existing trade laws until more effective protections are in place."
GLMTF also applauded Congressman Visclosky's ability to differentiate between dumped foreign steel and imports that supplement domestic production. "Even when operating full out, America's steel mills cannot meet all demand, " said John D. Baker, 2nd Vice President of GLMTF and President of the ILA's Great Lakes District Council that represents longshoremen at terminals the length of the Lakes. "The United States must import some steel, most particularly certain specialty steels. These steel cargos bring salties to the Lakes and those ships then leave with American grain in their holds."
Visclosky's selection also recognized his longstanding support for the Jones Act and other U.S. Cabotage laws that reserve domestic waterborne commerce to vessels that are U.S.-owned, -built and -crewed. "Foreign interests have tried to scuttle our Cabotage laws," said James J. Driscoll, Marketing Manager at Marinette Marine and 3rd Vice President of GLMTF. "Congressman Visclosky has always been among the first in the House to demand that America maintain a maritime policy that promotes a U.S.-Flag fleet and related maritime infrastructure."
Quinn's award recognizes his commitment to Great Lakes shipping and the American steel industry, the primary customer for vessels trading on the Inland Seas. "Great Lakes Maritime Task Force is indebted to legislators like Jack Quinn who make preserving good-paying jobs for Americans their top priority," said Daniel L. Smith, President of GLMTF and Vice President
of American Maritime Officers, a union representing licensed officers on many U.S.-Flag lakers. "As a leader of the House's Steel Caucus, Congressman Quinn has battled to save Great Lakes region steel mills from the unfair trade that is ravaging them. There are many free traders in this country who would let steel and its supplier industries perish, but Jack Quinn understands that without a healthy steel industry, America's economic well-being and defense capabilities are jeopardized."
"Unfair trade in steel is keeping at least one U.S.-Flag laker in lay-up this year and delayed the fit-out of other vessels," said George J. Ryan, 1st Vice President of GLMTF and President of Lake Carriers' Association, the trade association representing companies operating U.S.-Flag "ore boats." "The situation would be worse, but Rep. Quinn has demanded that the Federal
government enforce our existing trade laws until other measures are available to protect America's steel industry."
GLMTF's award also recognizes Congressman Quinn's understanding of the complexities of the steel trade. "The overseas trade to the Lakes depends on steel as its inbound cargo," explained John D. Baker, 2nd Vice President of GLMTF and President of the ILA's Great Lakes District Council that represents longshoremen at terminals throughout the Great Lakes. "However, those cargos consist primarily of specialty steels that are not manufactured in this country or slabs that American steelmakers need to maintain production and employment while a blast furnace is being relined. That kind of trade in steel is beneficial to all and therefore has not been targeted by legislation to address unfair trade in steel."
The current steel crisis is not the first time Congressman Quinn has stood up for American enterprise and workers. In the mid 1990s, foreign interests tried to abolish the Jones Act, the law requiring that cargo moving between U.S. ports be carried in vessels that are U.S.-owned, U.S.-built, and U.S.-crewed. Rep. Quinn was quick to cosponsor a resolution declaring the
House in full support of the Jones Act and other U.S. maritime Cabotage laws.
"Congressman Quinn's ongoing support for the Jones Act is another reason for his stature among Great Lakes basin legislators," said James J. Driscoll, 3rd Vice President of GLMTF and Marketing Manager at Marinette Marine Corporation. "Even though U.S.-Flag lakers are the most efficient vessels in the world, they could not compete against foreign ships exempt
from U.S. laws and taxation, built with subsidies and employing Third World crews for $15 a day. Without the Jones Act, the U.S.-Flag Lakes fleet and the 2,500 shipboard jobs it generates would be lost."
There are approximately 70 large U.S.-Flag vessels working the Great Lakes. During a navigation season that stretches from early March to late January, U.S.-Flag vessels typically haul more than 115 million tons of dry-bulk cargo. Iron ore for the steel industry is the primary cargo, followed by coal and stone. Other commodities include cement, salt, sand and various liquid-bulk products. Overseas commerce via the Great Lakes totals approximately 25 million tons. Ocean-going vessels deliver specialty steels and other products and depart with American and Canadian grain. In addition to the jobs created on ships and docks, Great Lakes waterborne commerce supports American workers at shipyards and their suppliers and marine service providers such as towing and dredging companies.
Past recipients of GLMTF's Legislator of the Year Award include Congressman James L. Oberstar (D-MN), David R. Obey (D-WI), and Steven C. LaTourette (R-OH) and Senator Spencer Abraham (R-MI).
Reported by: Lake Carriers' Association