The Maritime Cabotage Task Force
(MCTF) and the National Industrial Transportation (NIT) League have reached agreement on the establishment of a joint working group
which will address Jones Act service issues between U.S.-flag carriers and American shippers. The offer of creating such a group was made by the MCTF in a meeting hosted by the NIT League last
week in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
At its core, the MCTF offer was an effort to engage the shipper community in a dialogue which goes beyond merely debating the merits of the Jones Act. The objective is to explore common areas of interest between shippers and carriers and to develop operational solutions to logistics problems. In other words, the working group will provide a vehicle for shippers to discuss areas where there is a perceived lack of service and for carriers to address these concerns as opportunities. Carriers can then present a marine transportation alternative to shippers that will, in turn, provide new cargo opportunities.
MCTF Chairman Phil Grill called the joint working group a "working partnership with our customers to meet domestic transportation requirements" and "a significant departure from the acrimonious debates we've had with the Jones Act Reform Coalition over the past five years." Peter Gatti, the NIT League's vice president for international relations, said the first meeting of the group will probably take place in late March or shortly thereafter.
AWO President Tom Allegretti said, "This is a significant and welcome breakthrough in shipper-carrier relations. The joint working group presents an historic opportunity to take a new and productive approach, directing our energy toward real solutions to the advantage of all."