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Posted: September 1, 2011

Lakes task force thanks Rep. Kucinich for Jones Act support

The Great Lakes Maritime Task Force in a letter dated Aug. 30 thanked Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) for his support of the Jones Act and his criticism of a slew of recent waivers to the cabotage law in the ongoing draw down of the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR).

In a press release posted Aug. 25, Rep. Kucinich - whose district is on the south shore of Lake Erie - was critical of the administration's decision to waive the Jones Act 46 times in the SPR draw down, effectively giving away work to foreign crews that should have been done, and should still be done, by American mariners aboard U.S.-flagged vessels.

"We deeply appreciate your statement decrying the repeated waivers of the Jones Act of late that have denied American mariners the opportunity to move millions of barrels of crude from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve," the task force wrote. "Like you, we are appalled that foreign workers and companies are benefitting from domestic waterborne commerce, especially at a time when American mariners are un- or under-employed. There never has been any need for these waivers.

"This is not the first time you have rallied behind the Jones Act," the task force continued. "Back in the mid 1990s, you were among the first to sign H. Con. Res. 65, a statement of full support for the law. Your hometown, Cleveland, Ohio, is one of the most important maritime centers on the Great Lakes because American mariners skillfully guide giant freighters up and down the twisting Cuyahoga River while longshoremen efficiently unload cargo from the oceangoing vessels that have reached America's heartland via the St. Lawrence Seaway.

"Again, thank you for your continued support for the Jones Act and all the jobs it creates - nearly 500,000 nationwide," the task force concluded. "Our members are ever ready to help rebuild our economy and keep our nation safe."

The Great Lakes Maritime Task Force is the largest coalition ever to promote shipping on America's Fourth Sea Coast. Task force members include representatives of labor, maritime and shoreside industry, and port authorities, among others. AMO Great Lakes Special Assistant to the National President Don Cree serves (without pay) as 2nd vice president of the task force.