Congress must require that 20 percent of all U.S. oceanborne commerce move on U.S.-flag ships, labor officials told a special commission studying the decline of the U.S. merchant marine.
Paul Burnsky, president of the AFL-CIO Metal Trades Department, made that recommendation and others in testimony prepared for delivery to the presidentially appointed Commission on Merchant Marine and Defense at a hearing Monday afternoon.Other recommendations included:
* Better enforcement of existing cargo preference laws reserving certain government cargoes for U.S. carriers.
* Initiation of talks with the governments of trading partners to ensure fair treatment of U.S. ships in those trades.
* Curtailment of U.S. government contracts with foreign companies, both for supplies and research and development. Last year, said Mr. Burnsky, the government awarded $9 billion worth of military contracts to foreign companies.
* Revival of the Mariner program of the 1950s that built ships for the government's account and chartered them at commercially competitive rates to U.S. ship operators.
* Support for U.S. shipyards' efforts toward diversification.
Also scheduled to testify at the hearing were Clarence Briggs, secretary- treasurer of the Pacific Coast Metal Trades Council, and Ronald Ault, business representative of the International Association of Machinists at the Norfolk Navy Shipyard.
Mr. Briggs planned to urge the government to support training programs for shipyard workers and to conduct a comprehensive survey of shipbuilding crafts.
Mr. Ault planned to recommend changes in management policy for Navy yards. He said he'd suggest greater continuity in top management posts and training in labor relations for yard managers.
Mr. Burnsky's testimony sharply criticized Reagan administration policies toward shipbuilding.
There is no free market in world shipbuilding. The fuzzy-minded ideologues who have been framing maritime policy in the current administration have done more to help cripple our shipbuilding industry and the viability of our merchant fleet than all the military planners in the Kremlin could hope to accomplish, Mr. Burnsky said.