The US Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Sub-committee examined the issues of stevedores as key workers for vaccinations, while also talking about queues of containerships on the US West Coast.
In a two-hour session, called “State of the US Maritime Industry: Impacts of the Covid-19 Pandemic”, topics under discussion included the Jones Act shipbuilding, U.S. trade policy, and port issues.
A very pressing issue is the status of shoreside stevedoring labor as “essential workers”, which would be eligible to move to the front of the queues for Covid-19 vaccines. More specifically, Lauren Brand, of the National Association of Waterfront Employers (NAWE), asked the Subcommittee to “instruct the Center for Disease Control (CDC) to recognize ports as viable inoculation sites for transportation workers”.
She also explained that CDC should work with States to establish gateway port authorities and terminals as sites where all essential waterfront and transportation workers can be inoculated.
Vaccination sites designated at ports for essential workers represent a practical way to protect the waterfront and ensure the integrity of the supply chain
What is more, the meeting considered a different set of queues of containerships, especially at Los Angeles- Long Beach, as well as issues regarding container box supply and disruptions at ports., as demand has snapped back during the second half of 2020) loomed large- as noted by Mario Cordero, the Board chair of the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA), with a “day job” heading up the Port Authority at Long Beach.
Citing AAPA recommendations developed to keep workers safe with cargo still flowing, Mario Cordero, the Board chair of the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) requested that legislation should prioritise vaccination and provide more testing for port workers and other transportation system workers. Mr. Cordero also urged legislators to re-evaluate harmful trade practices and to invest in trade related infrastructure.
Finally, Ben Bordelon, of US Gulf based Bollinger Shipyards and The Shipbuilders Council of America (SCA) highlighted the efforts of shipyard workers during the pandemic. As he explained, US’s shipyard industrial base has met the challenge of COVID-19 and continued to show its value to the nation.