Republican Conrad Kress Candidate for U.S. House (HI-D-1) Supports the Jones Act
by Michael Hansen, Hawaii Shippers Council, October 14, 2022
Republican candidate Conrad Kress, running for the U.S. House Hawaii District 1 (Urban Oahu), appeared this morning on the Rick Hamada Show (KHVH 830 AM Radio) as a participant in an ongoing forum for candidates in the 2022 general election. Hamada asked Kress a direct question about his position on the Jones Act and a caller asked a follow-up question. However, Kress’ responses seemed noncommittal.
Kress is challenging the incumbent Ed Case (D, HI-D-1) who has been a longtime supporter of Jones Act reform. Referring to Conrad’s campaign website, its abundantly clear that he unabashedly supports the Jones Act and as a result has garnered the support of the International Longshore and Warehouse Workers Union (ILWU) and their maritime affiliate, the Inlandboatmen’s Union (IBU). In Hawaii, the ILWU represents stevedores and wharf clerks and the IBU the local tugboat crews.
The section of Kress’ website dedicated to his support of the Jones Act is entitled, “Send Hawaii Jobs Overseas: The Case against Case Exhibit F,” in which he makes absurdly false statements about the nature of the Jones Act protections for the domestic maritime industry.
These workers unions [ILWU and IBU) understand that Ed Case is willing to outsource their jobs and allow foreign countries and foreign workers to destroy their livelihood.
This can’t possibly be true. The work of the stevedores and wharf clerks, including that on board ship, is reserved by U.S. statute (other than the Jones Act) to those authorized to work in the U.S. (i.e., citizens and green card holders), requirements that are generally applicable to work in the U.S.
The crew employment on board vessels employed in domestic trade is protected by the Jones Act, and in its absence, its well-known would be protected by what are known as the “behind the border trade barriers.” These barriers are created by the domestic regulatory system, a broad web of federal, state and local laws, that would make continuous domestic employment of a foreign flag vessel (or, U.S. flag vessel with foreign crew) impossible.
The Jones Act is critical to American security and prosperity, delivering over 650,000 U.S. jobs, a reliable supply chain, and protection to our nation’s borders and national security interests. These benefits do not stop within the contiguous United States – and are realized even more in states like Hawaii, 2,500 miles from the U.S. Mainland and home to 13,000 jobs related to the Jones Act shipping industry.
This is again false. The key to understanding Kress’ legerdemain is the use of “jobs related to the Jones Act shipping industry” ]emphasis added[ as opposed to “jobs protected by the Jones Act.” The Jones Act only protects seafarers employed, and shipyard workers constructing newbuild vessels to be used, in coastwise (or, Jones Act) trade, which in Hawaii represents fewer than 1,000 jobs.
These extraordinary employment estimates for Jones Act jobs and resultant economic impacts have been conjured-up by the Transportation Institute from so-called “studies,” which have never been released or subjected to peer review. In other words, we’re supposed to believe a “black box.”
Republican Kress is obviously using his support for the Jones Act to garner maritime union support in the general election presumably with the thought he would be able to successfully challenge the Democrat incumbent and Jones Act reformer Case on the basis of traditional Democratic Party issues and constituencies.