The election yesterday was an important event for U.S. cruise passengers and crew members from around the world.
Whether you know it or not, there is a war being waged by large corporations against consumers and employees. The trend of big business has been to strip consumers of their rights, to take away the constitutional right to a jury trial, to impose one-sided arbitration agreements which favor the cruise lines, and to try and keep crew members from accessing the courthouses in the U.S. even thought the cruise lines are based here.
Federal court judges appointed by Republican presidents have already stripped away many of the rights of crew members to seek compensation under maritime legal doctrines dating back to the early 1800’s. Cruise lines see "foreign" crew members from India and the Caribbean islands as cheap labor, nothing more, who are easily exploitable with the tacit approval of politicians like Romney who favor the out-sourcing of jobs to impoverished countries with no laws which protect employees.
A Republican president and the Republican’s let’s-trust-the-corporations-to-do-the-right-thing attitude would also have resulted in the peeling back of clean air and water regulations. A Romney in the White House would have permitted the cruise lines to maximize profits at the expense of the environment.
Last night I watched the election returns, flicking between CNN, MSNBC, and FOX News while trying to keep up with the millions of tweets on my computer’s Twitter feed. There on FOX were the old guard, Karl Rove, Bill O’Reilly and those referred to collectively as fat, rich, old white men. Bill O’Reilly bemoaned the election results as the loss of the "white majority." He railed against President Obama’s re-election as the result of a large turn-out by "black" and "Hispanic" voters as well as a disproportionate number of "women." It was a nasty, depressing spectacle to watch these tired, old, xenophobic men on FOX.
Then the Obama organization tweeted a photo of the President and the First Lady, hugging, with the tweet "Four More Years." The timing was perfect. The photo has been re-tweeted more than anything in the history of Twitter.
I have a large photograph in my law office of a client, Laurie Dishman. Laurie was victimized on a cruise ship operated by a Miami based cruise line. It was a terrible crime. But in the photo she is shown smiling with President Obama who has his arm around her, after he signed the 2008 Cruise Vessel Safety & Security Act into law. The law was signed into law by President Obama to protect passengers on foreign flagged cruise ships.
I know that President Obama will think of people like Laurie when the billion dollar cruise corporations like Carnival try to enact legislation which promotes their financial interests over the rights of consumers. He will think of everyone, not just the rich, but black and white workers, Hispanics, women, and those who need help the most.
President Obama brought hope to my client, Laurie. He represents the only real hope to the powerless, and those underdogs like Laurie who choose to fight for justice against giant corporations.