Levin Named Legislator of the Year

TOLEDO, OH---Senator Carl Levin has been honored for his efforts to ensure Great Lakes shipping remains a driving force in the nation's economy. Senator Levin (D-MI) today was named Great Lakes Legislator of the Year by the Great Lakes Maritime Task Force (GLMTF), a labor/management coalition that promotes waterborne commerce on the Lakes. Levin will receive the award in Washington on May 3.

"Senator Levin has been a champion of Great Lakes shipping throughout his long career in the Senate," said James H. I. Weakley, President of GLMTF and President of Lake Carriers' Association. "Whatever the issue or need, be it constructing a second Poe-sized lock at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, or ensuring the U.S. Coast Guard has adequate icebreaking resources stationed on the Lakes, Senator Levin has taken up the cause and done whatever is necessary to keep Lakes shipping safe and efficient."

Weakley noted Levin has a keen interest in the most pressing issue facing Great Lakes shipping, inadequate funding for dredging ports and waterways. "It was Senator Levin who discovered the imbalance in how dredging dollars are appropriated when he asked the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to do an analysis comparing transportation systems in the United States. That analysis showed, for example, that a river system is receiving more than twice what the Lakes get based on the amount of cargo handled by the transportation system. That flawed approach is a major reason there is a dredging crisis on the Great Lakes and ships are routinely carrying less than full loads."

Great Lakes shipping is a key component of Michigan's economy. The State boasts 40 deep-draft ports, more than the other seven Great Lakes States combined. "Senator Levin recognizes that waterborne commerce drives his State's economy," said John D. Baker, 1st Vice President of GLMTF and President of the ILA's Great Lakes District Council. "However, there is nothing parochial about his commitment to Great Lakes shipping. The raw materials and overseas cargos that criss-cross the Lakes are the foundation of our national economy and create and sustain hundreds of thousands of family-supporting jobs. Without the efficiencies of Great Lakes shipping, our steel and heavy manufacturing industries would be hard-pressed to compete in the global economy."

Baker also thanked Michigan's Senior Senator for his ongoing 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. "While the U.S. flag has sadly all but disappeared from the ocean trades, the Lakes Jones Act fleet is the world leader in terms of efficiency because legislators like Senator Levin understand that the principles of the law - U.S. ownership, construction and crews - are the only lasting foundation for a successful domestic maritime policy."

The Great Lakes Maritime Task Force was founded in Toledo, Ohio, in 1992 to promote domestic and international shipping on the Great Lakes. It is the largest coalition to ever speak for the Great Lakes shipping community and draws its membership from both labor and management representing U.S.-Flag vessel operators, shipboard and longshore unions, port authorities, terminal operators, cargo shippers, shipyards and other Great Lakes interests. Its goals include restoring adequate funding for dredging of Great Lakes deep-draft ports and waterways, construction of a second Poe-sized lock at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan; preserving the domestic steelmaking infrastructure; protecting the nation's cabotage laws; maximizing the Lakes overseas trade; and opposing exports and increased diversions of Great Lakes water.

Michigan-based members of the Task Force are: Detroit/Wayne County Port Authority (Detroit); Edw. C. Levy Co. (Detroit); Lake Michigan Carferry Service, Inc. (Ludington); Lakes Pilots Association (Port Huron); Luedtke Engineering Company (Frankfort); Michigan Maritime Trades Port Council, AFL-CIO (Algonac); Pere Marquette Shipping Company (Ludington); Sargent Companies (Zilwaukee); Seafarers International Union of America (Algonac); and Wirt Stone Docks (Bay City).

Glen G. Nekvasil
Secretary, Great Lakes Maritime Task Force