Is the plight of Third-World seaman aboard foreign-flagged ships in American waters an obscure subject? (Scroll down to read two articles about them.)
This topic may seem obscure, but it represents a critical question about values: Who has rights in the U.S. and who doesn’t? So, this week isn’t just about cruise ships.
On Tuesday, we talked about the Seamen’s Church Institute, a 175-year-old organization that serves and advocates for the thousands upon thousands of seamen who have, virtually, no rights.
Dee recalls a friend, an Episcopalian who had her group “knit scarves for the seamen. They were warm scarves and they warmed me in several ways when I was knitting them.” It was an act of compassion in a cold world for those who toil on ships.
GC asked a good question: “I wonder what ship workers get in tips, how many people they cover, and what is the average per week?” No doubt, some ship workers receive good tips, and from my recent experience, I know that they work hard for them. Some cruise lines routinely tack gratuities onto the daily bill, saying they distribute them to workers—but who monitors this and how do we really know who gets what?
Greg’s observations of the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island illustrate the ubiquity of the issues at hand: “My experience with foreign workers centers around the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island. The servers and bus boys in the dining room are from Jamaica, and some have been coming for years. However, until very recently, the only place you ever saw them was working at the Grand. The never spoken word was that they were ‘told’ not to come into the village. I often wondered what they did when they weren’t working.”
The Filipinos aboard cruise ships are examples of the plight of migrant workers everywhere: Hard work, few rights. They are, in essence, stateless.
Maybe it doesn’t touch all of us, but these examples represent an important values issue America is facing: What are the rights of foreign workers in the U.S.?
Please, Add a Comment. Where have you seen this kind of problem arising? What solutions have you found?