The Seaway Task Force, a coalition of labor, investors and company professionals, is making considerable progress in its mission to update aged shipping infrastructure and sustain and grow new jobs in the Great Lakes, writes IAM Eastern Territory General Vice President Lynn Tucker, Jr., in a guest editorial to the Great Lakes Seaway Review.
Shipping is a key cog in U.S. and world trade. Approximately $1.4 trillion worth of goods move through U.S. ports each year. In the Great Lakes region, nearly 130,000 jobs depend on the cargo moved on U.S.-flag Great Lakes freighters.
“By ensuring a sound infrastructure network in the Great Lakes region, ports and waterways throughout our country, the shipping and shipbuilding industry will benefit and prosper,” writes Tucker.
The task force recently mobilized to support and pass through Congress the Water Resources Reform and Development Act, which increases funding for dredging so ships can carry full loads into more Great Lakes ports. It also mandates that more, and eventually all, taxes collected at federally-maintained harbors be put back into preserving and updating port infrastructure.
“My mission isn’t a quick fix,” writes Tucker. “It is a long-term project to promote job growth through the preservation and expansion of U.S. shipbuilding, shipping and related industries by optimizing the use of ports, shipping routes and the Great Lakes. I support the security of our country, the creation of jobs, training the next generation of workers for the required skills and to grow America.”