How Does the Jones Act Protect American Maritime Workers?

The Jones Act has recently come under fire as businesses, oil refiners and think tanks push for repeal of the law in upcoming sessions. However, the Jones Act does more than just provide a cause of action for workers harmed by their employers – it protects American jobs.

How Does the Jones Act Protect American Jobs?

“The Jones Act is a jobs act, pure and simple,” Senator Mary Landrieu of the Senate Energy and Resources Committee said. This nearly 100-year-old law also requires all vessels shipping cargo between two US locations to be US built, majority US-owned and at least 75 percent crewed by US citizens.

“Waiving the Jones Act,” she warns, “literally hands over work to foreign shippers.”

Despite limited support for weakening the Jones Act on Capitol Hill, petroleum marketers and refiners are planning a substantial effort to get Congress to change the law. They claim that the American economy today is not the same as it was in the 1920s, when the Jones Act was first passed as a way to sell old vessels and protect merchant seamen after World War I.

Has the Jones Act Changed Over Time?

As previously discussed here, the Jones Act has evolved over time to include the liability of employers and operators for the work-related injuries or deaths of employees. Fortunately, those who seek to change the law do not claim that these causes of action are the part of the Act that needs revision.

Most important is that workers rights are not taken away.  Merchant seaman to fisherman need to be protected under the law and continue to have laws that protect them and enable them to bring claims for their injuries.

However, we must remain adamant to protect the rights of seamen and their families should they be injured or killed as a result of negligence by their employer. If you would like to know more about the rights of seamen, contact a maritime law firm with experience in personal injury claims.

Latti & Anderson LLP – Nationwide Maritime Attorneys