There may be a break coming in the GoM foreign mariner issue

can’t divulge details yet, but the USCG is right now today looking very hard at a certain company’s application for yet another Vessel Manning Waiver…

If this does break wide open, it will require everybody who have ever felt denied a position on a vessel working in the GoM which is manned by foreign mariners to file letters of complaint with the Dept. of Labor & the USCG. The letters of complaint are the key and with enough of them, this could suddenly open up more than 200 good jobs in the GoM for Americans!

I hope I am not alone here and that with enough fellow American mariners onboard that this situation, which has been going on now for far too many years, might actually be coming to an end.

It looks like the CG and the vessel operators are one step ahead of the IRS. Read Cavo’s post and follow the link to their plan to make it perfectly legal to place foreign officers and other crew on those ships. They have found a better way to eliminate Manning Waivers - eliminate the requirement to employ Americans altogether.

The only thing I can see coming to an end is the future of the American mariner, at least those who could afford to support a family, buy a house, or pay taxes to subsidize oil companies.

In this case, the USCG might be coming to see the reality that has been obscurred by all the smoke that the foreign vessel owners have been blowing up the asses of the government. I’ve spoken with the man who makes the decisions on the letters and I believe he knows the truth now. Once I get his permission, I’ll post his name here as the person whom to file complaints with. I filed mine today and just that one might be all it takes to cause one waiver to be denied!

NOW IS THE TIME TO TAKE OUR JOBS BACK!

Immediately at present Veolia Offshore Services is requesting yet another “Vessel Manning Waiver” for their vessel KINGFISHER which works as an ROV and dive support vessel in the Gulf of Mexico. They have been requesting these letters since at least 2006 and have continued to be granted them because no US seafarers have filed complaint against their practice of running ads on RigZone for a couple of weeks every six months or so for all positions and then quickly taking them off the sight. I am sure most of us have seen them! Doing so has been putting on an act of “attempting” to find qualified US citizen mariners but each time they somehow don’t find any! How strange? How many here have applied to Veolia through their RigZone solicitations? how many ever received a reply? How many were fully qualified for the position they sought to fill?

The USCG office listed below is available to American mariners who feel that they have been unjustly denied employment by Veolia Offshore. To file a complaint of employment discrimination you need to mail or fax it to (sorry that they did not provide me a direct email address to use):

Chief, Foreign and Offshore Vessel Division (CG-5432)
U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters
2100 Second Street SW
Washington DC 20593-0001
(202) 372-2275 v.
(202) 372-1917 f.

Complaints received will be reviewed by the pertinent officials and may be considered in determining by the USCG if Veolia gets yet another letter allowing them to continue to use foreign mariners on their vessel which is in direct contravention to 33CFR141.5 which mandates that foreign flagged vessels working on the Outer Continental Shelf but owned by American corporations must engage US mariners. Veolia has been claiming for years that they “can’t find” suitable qualified Americans and continue to get their sought after waivers. Other compaines also do this but it is Veolia that is on the “front burner” at the moment and the time is come to turn up the gas under them and to make them sweat! If enough US mariners file complaints, they actually might not get a letter at all. If Veolia falls, then the others will eventually all fall as well. We have only jobs to gain and nothing to lose!

Thanks to all my fellow US citizen mariners for caring enough to support this effort.

I found this article online directly from Blank Rome LLP, one of the biggest Maritime Law Firms in Washington. Its purpose is informing foreign flag shipowners with vessels working on the Outer Continental Shelf how to circumvent the law and of course making a pitch for themselves as the firm to hire to make sure that the shipowners get just what they want!

Where Have All of the U.S. Citizen Offshore Workers Gone?
<SMALL>April 2009 | Charles T. Blocksidge & Jonathan K. Waldron (of Blank Rome LLP)</SMALL>

Where Have All of the U.S. Citizen Offshore Workers Gone? Foreign Personnel Continue to Fill Employment Gaps on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf? Even though it has been almost four years since Hurricane Katrina and production levels on the Outer Continental Shelf (“OCS”) are experiencing a temporary decline due to the downturn in the economy, [I][U]there continues to be a demand for foreign personnel to work in support of OCS activities. From welders to caterers and from chief engineers to deck hands and commercial divers, foreign personnel continue to fill critical positions onboard vessels and platforms. The question then remains, where have all of the U.S. citizens gone? Whether the shortage is an actual shortage of personnel or a factor of undesirable wages and a [B]lack of interest in an offshore career[/B], the shortage is real, has operational consequences, and can be addressed through a Coast Guard regulatory exemption in accordance with 33 C.F.R. Part 141.[/U][/I]

The shortage, or unavailability, as it is technically called, has recently received the attention of the Coast Guard’s National Offshore Safety Advisory Committee (“NOSAC”), which formed a subcommittee at its last meeting to develop criteria for the Coast Guard to use in determining if an actual labor shortage exists and to define what constitutes an emergency need. In order to understand this issue, it is important to first understand the citizenship restrictions that are placed on OCS operations.

Background

Through the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (“OCSLA”) and it amendments, Congress announced that the U.S. Constitution and laws and civil and political jurisdiction of the United States are extended to the subsoil and seabed of the OCS and to all artificial islands, and all installations and other devices permanently or temporarily attached to the seabed. What this means in simple terms is that U.S.-flag vessels and platforms conducting operations on the OCS must be manned or crewed by citizens of the United States or resident aliens.
This citizenship restriction typically becomes an issue in three different situations: (1) a U.S.-flag vessel or offshore platform that cannot find enough U.S. citizens or resident aliens to fill its regular complement (i.e., unavailability); (2) a U.S.-flag vessel with a U.S. crew or an offshore platform that needs to supplement its crew with foreign specialists, professionals, or other technically-trained personnel to handle emergencies or other temporary operations; and (3) a foreign-flag vessel with a foreign crew that has to route relief crews through the United States or make U.S. port visits.

A common theme that runs through all three situations is the requirement for foreign workers to possess a B-1 (OCS) visa in order to be allowed ashore in the United States, either en route to or from the OCS or for a U.S. port visit even though the immigration laws of the United States do not apply offshore. Failure of a crewmember to possess a B-1 (OCS) when a vessel pulls into a U.S. port, will result in the owner/operator of the vessel having to post an armed guard at the gangway and the crew not being permitted to disembark the vessel or depart the country without an armed escort. A brief discussion of each exemption follows below.

Foreign-Flag Vessels

In general, under the OCSLA manning requirements, the crew of any vessel engaged in OCS activities, whether U.S. or foreign flagged, must be either U.S. citizens or resident aliens. However, a manning exemption exists under OCLSA allowing a foreign-flag vessel to employ foreign nationals if it can be demonstrated that citizens of a foreign nation have the absolute right to effectively control the vessel (i.e., bareboat charter) or that the ownership of the vessel is over 50 percent foreign at every tier of ownership.
The application is submitted to the Coast Guard’s Foreign & Offshore Vessels Division and must contain, among other things, information such as project scope, vessel specifications, and a detailed description of ownership of every company in the vessel’s chain of ownership. Approval can often take 30 days or more depending on the complexity of the particular case. Once the exemption is received, it remains valid until the vessel comes under either U.S. ownership or control. Following the approval, the vessel owner can begin the process of obtaining the B-1 (OCS) visas for the crew.

Unavailability of U.S. Citizens or Resident Aliens

[I][U]This situation is directly linked to the number of U.S. citizens or resident aliens that are qualified and available to work offshore. Before utilizing foreign personnel in vacant positions, an unavailability exemption must be requested from the Coast Guard’s Foreign & Offshore Vessels Division. This is accomplished by the applicant demonstrating that it has attempted to locate qualified U.S. citizens or resident aliens through several different advertising media including, but not limited to, newspapers, internet, and trade shows/job fairs. Given that the Coast Guard makes its determination in consultation with the U.S. Department of Labor, it is also important that the applicant register and post advertisements with the two largest state labor organizations that deal with offshore occupations; namely, the Texas and Louisiana Workforce Commissions. In addition to the advertising information, the applicant must also include the number of personnel needed, the position they will fill, the vessel and/or platform upon which the foreign personnel will be stationed, and also information pertaining to the particular applicant’s hiring statistics (e.g., number of applicants, new hires and terminations over the last several quarters).[/U][/I]

Once the Coast Guard makes its determination that an unavailability exists, a letter will be issued that can then be utilized by the recruited foreign personnel to obtain a B-1 (OCS) visa from a U.S. embassy or consulate. The temporary exemption is typically valid for one year from the date of issue [U][I]under the condition that the applicant will continue to advertise for and hire either U.S. citizens or resident aliens if and when they become available[/I][/U]. When the proper visa is granted, the foreign workers will then be permitted to travel to the U.S. and ultimately to the OCS.

Conclusion

[I][U]The strict citizenship requirements imposed on OCS operations, coupled with the requirement for offshore workers to possess a B-1 (OCS) visa when traveling in the United States, has made[B] exemptions[/B] from these restrictions [B]commonplace[/B] in facilitating OCS operations[/U][/I]. [I][U]Whether you are a small company that has resisted bidding on a larger contract because you are unsure where the qualified personnel would come from, a company that wants to contract with a foreign-flag vessel but does not want to deal with contract delays due to personnel issues, or a platform or vessel owner in need of a foreign specialist to assist with a new equipment installation, [B]the exemptions discussed above may be the answer[/B][/U][/I][B].[/B] [U][I]Given that the failure to secure the exemption and/or the proper visas for the personnel can result in fines, penalties, lengthy operational delays and personnel issues such as refusal to allow crewmembers ashore, meet a vessel or deportation,[/I][/U] [I][U]it is strongly encouraged that U.S. counsel be sought to assist with preparing and submitting the exemption requests. Moreover, it is important to use counsel who are experienced in this specialized area of the law[B] to make sure that the necessary legal requirements[/B] [B]are sufficiently addressed[/B] in submitting an exemption and to avoid lengthy delays in obtaining approval[/U][/I].

Need to find a way to ditch hiring them lousy, stinking, law suit loving American seafarers and get permission from the US Federal Government to use squeeky clean, low liability, foreign labor on your ship working on the OCS, then “[I][U]the exemptions discussed above may be the answer.”[/U] [/I]All you need to do is to call Blank Rome today! They’ve “got the juice” with the USCG and Department of Labor to make darned sure you get your money’s worth in Washington!

I simply can’t find a bigger smoking howitzer to show that this is a system manufactured by lawyers and rigged to benefit shipowners at the expense of US citizen mariners! Complain to the USCG that you are being denied the jobs you are entitled to by law and let them know that there is no real [I][U]“shortage”[/U][/I] of American mariners! Nobody here can tell me that there are US seafarers who suffer a “[I][U]lack of interest in an offshore career!”[/U][/I] What absolute and utter disrespect for each and every US citizen mariner from a law firm who obviously cares for nothing other than their own self interests and bottom line, but who’s fooling who? They’re Washington lawyers…nothing more need be said!

The one thing that I can say which gives me hope is that I can tell you that at least one person in a well placed position at the USCG who is now prepared to listen to us but each of us needs to make the first effort…they can’t come to you, you have to go to them to be heard! A cornerstone has been laid to build upon but nothing will be built until we all pitch in to do our parts. Together we can make a change if we care enough to fight.

Again, thank you to everyone here who cares and is willing to stand up for what is RIGHT! Comment on the proposed rulemaking granting foreign mariners US equivalent certificates and complain the the USCG Foreign & Offshore Vessel Division about the lies being used to deny you the employment you have a right to by law…

I will start by saying that I have not been denied a job on one of these ships. My ticket is not high enough.

However… There are many captains out there right now who are working below their license just to have a job. In fact even 1600ton captains working as AB. Just check this forum. One of those 1600 ton tickets is doing [B]my[/B] potential 200 ton job. So if even one of those captains were able to get a job “up the ladder” that would open up a position for the lower license levels or even unlicensed ratings.

So I encourage [B]everyone[/B] to add a comment on the proposed rule and help all of us out.

You are very correct…as things are now US mariners at every tonnage are loses. Anything that puts [B][I][U]more[/U][/I][/B] American mariners to work creates demands that flow through the pool. So many unlimited tonnage jobs potentially opens an equal number of jobs on other tonnage vessels.

Thanks very much for your support.

[I]“The shortage, or unavailability, as it is technically called …”[/I]

Yeah, that is what it is called by cynical lawyers, crew agents, and other maritime industry parasites who work together to provide foreign business interests with the highest possible return on the money they invest in “press releases” which are, to put it very kindly, deceptive propoganda pieces created for the sole purpose of pleasing those who feed them.

No one, not even a CG or ICE lapdog of foreign shipping interests, need look any further than this site and its archives to find numerous examples of the fraud and contempt for American seafarers the exemption program has produced. The offer of an American law firm to assist foreign conspirators in navigating the finer points of how to avoid hiring American workers in America is positively Dickinsian. Jaggers and Jaggers PA, probably couldn’t have any less regard for American law and American workers … until a wounded one is wheeled into the office of course …

John McCain’s attack on Jones Act

June 25, 2010

McCain introduces legislation to repeal Jones Act
Citing reports that the Jones Act has hampered Gulf spill clean-up activities, Senator John McCain today introduced legislation to repeal the Jones Act.

You can read the text of his measure HERE

Following is a statement released by Senator McCain today:

"Today I am pleased to introduce legislation that would fully repeal the Jones Act, a 1920s law that hinders free trade and favors labor unions over consumers. Specifically, the Jones Act requires that all goods shipped between waterborne ports of the United States be carried by vessels built in the United States and owned and operated by Americans. This restriction only serves to raise shipping costs, thereby making U.S. farmers less competitive and increasing costs for American consumers.

"This was highlighted by a 1999 U.S. International Trade Commission economic study, which suggested that a repeal of the Jones Act would lower shipping costs by approximately 22 percent. Also, a 2002 economic study from the same Commission found that repealing the Jones Act would have an annual positive welfare effect of $656 million on the overall U.S. economy. Since these studies are the most recent statistics available, imagine the impact a repeal of the Jones Act would have today: far more than a $656 million annual positive welfare impact - maybe closer to $1 billion. These statistics demonstrate that a repeal of the Jones Act could prove to be a true stimulus to our economy in the midst of such difficult economic times.

“The Jones Act also adds a real, direct cost to consumers - particularly consumers in Hawaii and Alaska. A 1988 GAO report found that the Jones Act was costing Alaskan families between $1,921 and $4,821 annually for increased prices paid on goods shipped from the mainland. In 1997, a Hawaii government official asserted that ‘Hawaii residents pay an additional $1 billion per year in higher prices because of the Jones Act. This amounts to approximately $3,000 for every household in Hawaii.’”

"This antiquated and protectionist law has been predominantly featured in the news as of late due to the Gulf Coast oil spill. Within a week of the explosion, 13 countries, including several European nations, offered assistance from vessels and crews with experience in removing oil spill debris, and as of June 21st, the State Department has acknowledged that overall ‘it has had 21 aid offers from 17 countries.’ However, due to the Jones Act, these vessels are not permitted in U.S. waters.

"The Administration has the ability to grant a waiver of the Jones Act to any vessel - just as the previous Administration did during Hurricane Katrina - to allow the international community to assist in recovery efforts. Unfortunately, this Administration has not done so.

“Therefore, some Senators have put forward legislation to waive the Jones Act during emergency situations, and I am proud to co-sponsor this legislation. However, the best course of action is to permanently repeal the Jones Act in order to boost the economy, saving consumers hundreds of millions of dollars. I hope my colleagues will join me in this effort to repeal this unnecessary, antiquated legislation in order to spur job creation and promote free trade.”

[QUOTE=c.captain;42558]Immediately at present Veolia Offshore Services is requesting yet another “Vessel Manning Waiver” for their vessel KINGFISHER which works as an ROV and dive support vessel in the Gulf of Mexico. They have been requesting these letters since at least 2006 and have continued to be granted them because no US seafarers have filed complaint against their practice of running ads on RigZone for a couple of weeks every six months or so for all positions and then quickly taking them off the sight. I am sure most of us have seen them! Doing so has been putting on an act of “attempting” to find qualified US citizen mariners but each time they somehow don’t find any! How strange? How many here have applied to Veolia through their RigZone solicitations? how many ever received a reply? How many were fully qualified for the position they sought to fill?

The USCG office listed below is available to American mariners who feel that they have been unjustly denied employment by Veolia Offshore. To file a complaint of employment discrimination you need to mail or fax it to (sorry that they did not provide me a direct email address to use):

Chief, Foreign and Offshore Vessel Division (CG-5432)
U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters
2100 Second Street SW
Washington DC 20593-0001
(202) 372-2275 v.
(202) 372-1917 f.

Complaints received will be reviewed by the pertinent officials and may be considered in determining by the USCG if Veolia gets yet another letter allowing them to continue to use foreign mariners on their vessel which is in direct contravention to 33CFR141.5 which mandates that foreign flagged vessels working on the Outer Continental Shelf but owned by American corporations must engage US mariners. Veolia has been claiming for years that they “can’t find” suitable qualified Americans and continue to get their sought after waivers. Other compaines also do this but it is Veolia that is on the “front burner” at the moment and the time is come to turn up the gas under them and to make them sweat! If enough US mariners file complaints, they actually might not get a letter at all. If Veolia falls, then the others will eventually all fall as well. We have only jobs to gain and nothing to lose!

Thanks to all my fellow US citizen mariners for caring enough to support this effort.[/QUOTE]
I found this article online directly from Blank Rome LLP, one of the biggest Maritime Law Firms in Washington. Its purpose is informing foreign flag shipowners with vessels working on the Outer Continental Shelf how to circumvent the law and of course making a pitch for themselves as the firm to hire to make sure that the shipowners get just what they want!


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As much as I was hoping that there might have been something of substance in the previous post, it appears to be pure spam trying to get people to click on the link at the bottom. I’ve reported it to gCaptain for them to remove.