Working people across the United States have stepped up to help out our friends, neighbors and communities during these trying times. In our regular Service + Solidarity Spotlight series, we’ll showcase one of these stories every day. Here’s today’s story.
Masters, Mates & Pilots (MM&P) thanked the House leadership and supports the new version of the HEROES Act, introduced in Congress earlier this week to provide COVID-19 relief. The legislative package includes emergency funding for the Maritime Security Program, which provides America’s military access to a variety of vessels, including privately owned U.S.-flag ships operated by members of MM&P and other U.S. maritime unions. “Increased funding is needed to maintain the supply chain for American troops overseas and keep the U.S. flag flying aboard merchant ships engaged in international trade,” said MM&P President Donald Marcus. The legislation provides an additional $500,000 in fiscal year 2021 for each vessel participating in the Maritime Security Program.
The union explained that additional funding is necessary due to the unexpected costs associated with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the provision of personal protective equipment and expenses incurred in providing sufficient crew and relief crews in U.S. and foreign ports. The loss of revenue because of a severe reduction of cargo in many sectors of the industry, as well as the losses incurred by vessels delayed in quarantine while battling COVID-19 outbreaks, has led to a funding shortage. “American merchant mariners have dangerous jobs under the best of circumstances. Today, during COVID-19, grave risks to health and safety and the pressures of extended assignments and isolation aboard ship create working and living condition hardships for seafarers that have been unmatched in living memory during peacetime. However, whether it be in war or in a crisis like COVID-19, the U.S. merchant marine delivers,” Marcus said, “and American merchant mariners continue to do their duty as they always have, with the highest degree of professionalism and patriotism.”