TOLEDO, OH - Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-OH) has been honored for her commitment to Great Lakes shipping by the largest coalition representing the industry. The Congresswoman was today named Great Lakes Legislator of the Year by Great Lakes Maritime Task Force (GLMTF). Tubbs Jones will formally receive the award at the Task Force's 13th Annual Briefing for the Great Lakes Delegation in Washington on April 2.
"As a native Clevelander, Congresswoman Tubbs Jones has firsthand knowledge of the benefits of shipping on the Lakes," said Patrick J. O’Hern, President of GLMTF and Vice President and General Manager of Bay Shipbuilding Company. "The terminals along the Cuyahoga River receive raw materials that drive the city's steel, manufacturing, and construction industries. The port authority docks handle overseas cargos that further strengthen the city's economy. Congresswoman Tubbs Jones has made keeping those cargos flowing a priority since being elected to the House of Representatives in 1998."
Great Lakes shipping has needed the Congresswoman's support more than ever in recent years. The dredging crisis and aging infrastructure have threatened to negate the efficiencies of waterborne commerce. "Congresswoman Tubbs Jones has been among the most ardent supporters of increased funding for dredging Great Lakes ports and waterways," said Daniel L. Smith, 1st Vice President of GLMTF and National Executive Vice President of American Maritime Officers. "She stood with her fellow Great Lakes legislators and approved an increase of more than $30 million for dredging in 2008. Those additional funds will allow the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers begin to clear the horrendous backlog of dredging projects. However, Rep. Tubbs Jones will have to take up the cause again. The proposed budget for FY09 stripped nearly $50 million from the Lakes' dredging appropriation. The very future of Great Lakes shipping is at stake."
Rep. Tubbs Jones cast another crucial vote for Great Lakes shipping last year when she approved the Water Resources Development Act of 2007. "Not only does this legislation call for increased dredging," said James H.I. Weakley, 2nd Vice President of GLMTF and President of Lake Carriers’ Association, "the bill authorizes construction of a second Poe-sized lock at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, at full Federal expense. This lock will ensure that steelmakers in Cleveland and other communities will be able to receive iron ore from Minnesota and Michigan mines in Great Lakes vessels, the most efficient and environmentally-friendly mode of transportation."
Congresswoman Tubbs Jones is also the co-author of legislation to revive ferry service on the Great Lakes. "The Short Sea Shipping Enhancement Act of 2007, which she co-sponsored with Rep. Phil English (R-PA) would be a great boon to our region's economy and environment," said John D. Baker, 3rd Vice President of GLMTF and President of the ILA's Great Lakes District Council. "By putting non-bulk cargos on vessels, we will ease congestion on our highways and rail lines and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the process."
"I accept this award with a great sense of responsibility," said Congresswoman Tubbs Jones. "Not just Cleveland, but America needs the jobs that depend on Great Lakes shipping. I remember when it looked like we would never make steel in Cleveland again. One of the reasons those mills came back to life was the efficient movement of raw materials on the Great Lakes. But if we don't dredge our ports and waterways, if we don't renew our Coast Guard's icebreaking assets, we put family-sustaining jobs throughout the Great Lakes basin at risk. I will champion Great Lakes shipping for as long as I am in Congress."
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, cargo shippers, terminal operators, 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; protecting the nation's cabotage laws; maximizing the Lakes overseas trade; and opposing exports and increased diversions of Great Lakes water.
Ohio-based members of the Task Force are: AK Steel; American Maritime Officers, ArcelorMittal Steel; Cleveland-Cliffs Inc; Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority; Corus; CSX Transportation, Toledo Docks; Faulkner, Muskovitz & Philips; Flats Oxbow Assn.; Grand River Navigation Company; Great Lakes District Council, ILA; Interlake Steamship; ILA Lake Erie Coal & Ore Dock Council; ILA Locals 1317 and 1768; Int'l Organization of Masters, Mates & Pilots; International Ship Masters' Assn.; Lafarge North America; Lake Carriers' Assn.; Lorain Port Authority; Midwest Terminals of Toledo; Osborne Concrete & Stone Co.; Pickands Mather Lake Services Company; Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority; Toledo Port Council; United Steeworkers, District 1 and Local 5000; and Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway Co.
Glen G. Nekvasil
Secretary, Great Lakes Maritime Task Force