MM&P: Congress right to exclude cruise ships from stimulus bill

The following is statement by Capt. Don Marcus, president of the International Organization of Masters, Mates & Pilots (MM&P):

(LINTHICUM HEIGHTS, Md.) — The members of the Masters, Mates & Pilots are gratified that federal stimulus funds will not be extended to flag-of-convenience, tax-dodging cruise ship companies. While many of these businesses are American-owned and publicly traded, they choose to sail under the flags of the Bahamas, Panama and other nations in order to avoid hiring Americans, paying reasonable wages and adhering to our labor and environmental standards. They avoid almost all corporate taxes. The workers employed on these vessels generally come from countries such as the Philippines, India and Indonesia.

Rewarding flag-of-convenience cruise ships with tax dollars, as some in the administration have advocated, would have added insult to injury.

U.S. tax-paying mariners are facing grave health risks and extreme anxiety while performing their jobs: keeping our supply chains open on the oceans of the globe and the waterways of our nation. Mariners flying under the stars and stripes are provisioning our troops overseas and transporting essential workers to their jobs aboard the ferries of our major ports.

Due to this virus crisis, like millions of other Americans, many mariners, particularly those engaged in harbor work, have been laid off. Rightfully, American workers and the U.S.-owned businesses that employ them should come first.

Authors of the stimulus bill were wise to include language stating that companies receiving assistance must be "organized in the United States or under the laws of the United States" in addition to having "significant operations in" and a majority of their workers based in the United States. If cruise ship operators want our tax dollars, fly under our flag.

By Professional Mariner Staff