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Teamsters Protest Maersk Headquarters Move

Chuck Mack, international vice president and director of the Port Division for the Teamsters announced that a delegation from the 65,000-member division would picket Maersk headquarters at Giralda Farms in Madison, New Jersey, on Thursday, October 28.

The picket line is scheduled to begin at noon in front of the Maersk building. The members will be voicing strong opposition to the company’s planned move of its Central American regional headquarters from New Jersey to a location outside of the United States as reported in La Prensa in an interview by Wilfredo Jordan with Hans Moller of Maersk Panama.

Workers are angry that the largest, most profitable steamship company in the world would chose to repay the loyalty of its workers by abandoning the community just weeks after receiving a large tax break from the government.

“Moving American jobs overseas is always reprehensible. Moving them weeks after receiving a massive corporate tax break is inexcusable,” declared Jim Hoffa, general president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. “This is a slap in the face. The ink has barely dried on our country’s largest-ever corporate tax give-away and Maersk is deciding whether to move their regional headquarters to Panama, Mexico or Costa Rica,” he said.

In addition to the picket line, the Teamsters are distributing leaflets in major cities throughout the United States denouncing the Maersk tax break and Maersk’s plan to move their regional headquarters. The flyer urges Americans to demand Maersk make a commitment to the United States and U.S. workers.

Many of the workers’ concerns about the tax break stem from provisions in the American Jobs Creation Act of 2004 (HR 4520), which includes a "tonnage tax provision" that allows Maersk to elect U.S. tax treatment of their U.S. flag fleet. The income tax due will be capped at a modest annual amount regardless of how much income is actually earned from the ships including: (1) income earned through the operation of barges, containers, chassis, and other equipment that are the complement of, or are used in connection with ocean shipping vessels; (2) income earned through the inland haulage of cargo shipped or to be shipped; and (3) income earned through terminal, maintenance, repair, logistical, or other vessel, container, or cargo-related services.

“The citizens of the United States are owed some answers,“ Mack said. “For instance, did Maersk inform our Senators and members of Congress about this planned move while Congress was considering the Maersk tax break? How much did Maersk gain from the tax break? Also, how many jobs will be shipped out of the country and what will be the proposed savings by using Central American workers at lower wages? We are calling on the New Jersey congressional delegation to demand answers to these questions.”

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents more than 1.4 million workers throughout North America.

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