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SEATTLE SEAFARERS CENTER NEWSLETTER

June 2023
 

New Intern Spotlight

Meet our new summer intern! Siri Donlea is a rising senior at Occidental College, pursuing a degree in Psychology. She is enthusiastic to learn about the world of seafaring, and contribute to the mission of the center. In her first two weeks, she was able to meet and serve a wide range of seafarers, and even receive a full tour of an engine room. 

The Labor Shortage & Meaningful Connections

Over the past year, the International Longshore & Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) have faced significant challenges in reaching a consensus regarding wages for longshore workers. This prolonged disagreement resulted in a labor slowdown within the ports, characterized by union workers either refusing to show up for shifts or being sent home early due to low productivity levels. Consequently, the West Coast ports experienced an extended period of unusual calmness throughout several weeks in June. Given the potential economic ramifications of a seaport work stoppage, it became crucial to promptly reach a mutually agreeable resolution.

However, this challenging situation presented a valuable opportunity for our Center. This time allowed our staff to develop meaningful connections with the seafarers stuck in the port of Seattle. We made multiple visits to the same ship within a week, enabling us to develop a deeper understanding of the crew beyond what a single encounter would allow. We not only provided transportation for the seafarers, allowing them to explore the city with enthusiasm, but also offered recommendations to help them make the most of their time until their ships departed.

On June 14, a breakthrough occurred as the ILWU and the PMA reached a tentative agreement that will remain in effect for the next six years, encompassing 29 ports responsible for the majority of U.S. imports. Despite the uncertainty and stress surrounding the negotiations, we are grateful for the friendships made during this period.

Reflections from our Director, Rich Shively:

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It has been a remarkable several weeks as I have started as Executive Director of the Seattle Seafarers Center.  Let me share a few highlights: 

Ship Visits

We were able to visit a cement ship at CalPortland Mid-May.  A couple of things made this particular visit stand out.  One was a crew member who shared pictures of his family in the Philippines.  Just being asked about family back home put a smile on his face.  He and his wife have two teens, and a surprise baby who was still a toddler.  The SIM card we had just provided was allowing for some renewed contact while he was in the US, and he was looking forward to a short video call with all of them.  He talked about how important the face to face calls were, and how much he was looking forward to being with them all in a couple of months. I asked him to share a few stories of the kids, which he easily was able to do.

On that same ship, we met an officer from China, who had never been able to get shore leave after several visits to the United States. After a quick tour of the ship’s bridge, he asked if he could get a ride downtown.  He also said that he really wanted to watch the NBA playoff game.  Yoa Ming had been from his province in China, and he said he had become a huge Warriors fan.  Julia Cooper (our Operations Director) was with me and offered the option of watching using the Seafarer Center Wi-Fi. When we left the ship, he noted how grateful he was to finally get off the ship and visit America.  He was able to get on Wi-Fi for the game later on.  

It’s these little things that let these hard-working men and women know that they are cared for here in Seattle. 

Summer Intern 

 

Siri Donlea has been at the Center for a few weeks now.  We have had some great experiences with her so far.  Fr. Mac joined us as we both had our first visit to Terminal 30.  We met several members of the Crew of the Westwood/Swire Changsha.  The ship and the crew were well cared for, and grateful for the visit.  While it was a quick one, the crew we spoke to noted that they would return in about a month, and looked forward to visiting the Center, and downtown if time allows.

Building Connections

Over the past 8 weeks, I have been able to meet with several pastors, and begin to set up presentations at local parishes.  I will be at St. Cecilia on Bainbridge Island on the weekend of August 20th, and St. Bede’s in Port Orchard on September 10th.  Also, former Director Ken Hawkins will be at the Church of the Holy Cross later in September.  I look forward to sharing stories with these communities, and have several more on the horizon.

 

I also had the pleasure of meeting with Bishop Shelley Wee, from the NW Washington Lutheran Synod.  She hopes to come herself for a ship visit, and invited us to speak to their Council in September.  

 

I look forward to building on a great foundation with the Diocese of Olympia in the next few weeks.  Joe Cotton from our Board, has been so helpful in making connections with the Archdiocese of Seattle.  The Archdiocese has provided a significant two-year grant that has helped with staffing as we reconnect post-covid with local communities. 

 

We are also grateful to Westwood/Swire Shipping and the Scottish Rite Masons for their support, and to Peter Kim who helped us build new connections! 

Looking Forward - NAMMA Conference 2023

Our team is incredibly excited to host NAMMA’s (North American Maritime Ministry Association) annual conference in Seattle this summer. From August 1-3, around 100 representatives from local and international seafarers’ welfare organizations will gather at the University of Washington to engage in meaningful conversation and learning, to develop strategies that more effectively serve seafarers. 

 

This event is open to all partners in the broader maritime community. If you are interested in learning more, visit the NAMMA website: https://namma.org/resources/conference-2023/ 

Volunteers Needed for Cruise Ship Driving!

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We are in the midst of cruise ship season, and would love your help with running our shuttle service. From May through September, the Seafarers Center provides transportation for crewmembers from Pier 91 to downtown Seattle. 

 

We are still actively seeking volunteer drivers for the 2023 cruise ship season. Driving shifts are from 8:30am to 2:30pm each day. Volunteers can drive as little as once a month, or as often as twice a week. 

 

Email us at office@mts-seattle.org if you are interested, and see our website for more information:

www.mts-seattle.org/cruise-ship-driving 

Thank you for your continued support!

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