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International Operating Engineer - Fall 2017

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The quarterly magazine of the International Union of Operating Engineers.

Politics & Legislation

Politics & Legislation Election 2017 – Supporters of Infrastructure Win Big Lawmakers Try to Subvert Labor Standards After Disaster ON TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 7TH, voters went to the polls in New Jersey and Virginia to elect governors and legislators. In addition, New Yorkers voted on whether to hold a constitutional convention in 2018. In the Garden State, Democratic candidate Phil Murphy faced Republican Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno; after two terms, Governor Chris Christie was term limited. Most polls throughout the election had Murphy up by double-digits and those polls proved accurate. Governor-elect Murphy won the general election by a 56-42 margin against Guadagno. Major infrastructure investments were a key part of Murphy’s platform, including his strong support the New York/New Jersey Gateway Tunnel Project. Murphy was endorsed by Locals 68, 825 and JNESO. Down ballot, Democrats maintained their control of the state legislature and even gained a few seats. The Governor’s race in Virginia between Democratic Lt. Governor Ralph Northam and Republican Ed Gillespie, to replace term-limited Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe, had a huge amount of money spent to sway voters. The final results had Northam beating Gillespie by a 54-45 margin. Northam pledged to make major infrastructure investments, including supporting two natural gas pipelines through southern Virginia if they win regulatory approval. Down ballot, the Democrats won the Lt. Governor slot and retained the Attorney General position. They also made historical gains in the Virginia House of Delegates, picking up 15 seats, narrowing the Republican edge to 51-49. New York State voters overwhelmingly rejected a ballot proposal to hold a constitutional convention by a 78-16 margin. This proposal would have a allowed a convention to amend the state’s constitution and possibly result in essential labor rights, such as prevailing wage and collecting bargaining, being stricken from the state constitution. New York Operating Engineer locals were very aggressive in educating their members about the ballot proposal and getting their members to the polls to successfully defeat this anti-union measure. The November 2017 elections also saw the city of Boston re-elect their mayor, labor leader Marty Walsh. Mayor Walsh easily captured 65 percent of the vote. In other election news, a special election for Washington State Senate District 27 had IUOE endorsed candidate Democrat Manka Dhingra defeat Republican Jinyoung Lee Englund to flip this seat and ultimately control of the Washington State Senate from Republican to Democrat. This election was a tremendous win for union friendly candidates that made investments in our infrastructure a top priority, along with an agenda that seeks to benefit working families. Let’s hope this momentum continues into November of next year and we are able to elect more candidates that will fight for the bread and butter issues that matter to Operating Engineers. [above] N.J. Governor-elect Phil Murphy with IUOE Local 825 Business Manager Greg Lalevee and members at a February endorsement event. [photo] observer.com DISASTER RESPONSE TO the recent hurricanes put a spotlight on a key labor standard for the maritime and shipbuilding industries. The Jones Act came under fierce attack from both Democrats and Republicans. The kneejerk reactions misplaced the blame for an inadequate response in Puerto Rico on this key policy for Operating Engineers, maritime workers, and the domestic shipbuilding industry. The Jones Act is a “cabotage” law that requires American-flagged and American-crewed vessels when shipping goods between U.S. ports. Cabotage laws are common and operate in virtually every country and in other transportation industries— airlines, for example. What makes the Jones Act unique is that it also requires that the vessels be manufactured in the United States. Since its inception, it has been a key element of economic and national security policy and it has been supported by the IUOE for generations. Although the United States has shed thousands of jobs along with its shipbuilding capacity, the Jones Act and the Buy American provisions in the defense industry sustain what industry still exists in the country today. The Jones Act also ensures that an American fleet can be commandeered in the event of a national-security emergency to move goods, materiel, and armed forces around the globe. In the wake of Hurricane Maria, longtime opponents of the law— mostly traditional anti-union, antiworker voices—were joined by liberal Democrats in calling for a waiver of the Jones Act. Democrats sought a yearlong waiver. Right-wing opponents called for a permanent end to the Jones Act as it relates to Puerto Rico. They argued, without any evidence, that it is inefficient and expensive to require Jones Act-compliant shipments to Puerto Rico in the aftermath of the disaster. Here are the facts: • Jones Act vessels readied shipments to Puerto Rico before the hurricane struck land. • Foreign-flagged vessels already deliver 2/3rd of all shipments to Puerto Rico. • Most fuel is shipped to Puerto Rico by foreign vessels. • It takes less than four days to ship goods to Puerto Rico from U.S. ports, increasing efficiency. Most foreign vessels take about 14 days to reach Puerto Rico. • U.S. vessels ship American cargo containers, which allow tracking of consumer goods through the supply chain to the point of sale, increasing efficiency and lowering costs. Foreign vessels ship containers that don’t permit the same tracking. The unfortunate political developments around the hurricane response ended with a limited, 10- day waiver of the Jones Act. In a letter to Congress, Dr. Alexis Rudd of the Maritime Administration stated, “Waiving the Jones Act now will not provide any additional relief to the hurricane victims on the island.” During the ten days, only one foreign vessel reached a Puerto Rican port. Despite attacks from left and right, the middle appears to be holding. Bipartisan support for the law still exists in supermajorities in Congress. And the momentum behind suspending the law has waned. The IUOE will remain vigilant in its advocacy for the Jones Act. [photo] Crowley Maritime Corporation 10 INTERNATIONAL OPERATING ENGINEER FALL 2017 11

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