Washington State Labor Leader Max Vekich Officially Confirmed as a Federal Maritime Commissioner

Labor leader and Aberdeen, Washington native was confirmed by the Senate 51-43 last week.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation released the following statement after Max Vekich was officially confirmed as a Federal Maritime Commissioner. The Commission is responsible for regulating agreements between American exporters and the shipping companies that carry their goods to ensure they are fair and competitive.

“It is great to have an experienced Pacific Northwest voice on the Federal Maritime Commission to help sort out supply chain issues, support American exporters, and to help keep ports and freight moving,” said Cantwell.

Vekich was confirmed last week by the Senate with a vote of 51-43. Cantwell spoke on the floor of the Senate to push for Vekich’s confirmation just prior to the vote. In the Senator’s remarks, Cantwell stated, “Mr. Vekich knows what it takes to move product from the heartland. He knows that in our Washington ports we are helping U.S. farmers get their products to market. So I know whether that’s wheat or soybeans, or other ag products, he knows what it takes to move them and what it takes for us to continue to improve the efficiency of our ports.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused unprecedented port congestion and supply chain disruptions. Businesses and Americans are feeling the pinch of rising prices and shortages on everyday products. At this critical time in our country, the Commission plays an important role in oversight, investigations and regulation of detention and demurrage, information flow, and enforcement of unfair practices by foreign shipping companies.

“The perspective and experience that Mr. Vekich will bring to this position of Commissioner is needed in this moment,” Cantwell said at the nomination hearing in October“He has a unique career first serving as a member of the Washington Legislature, followed by a long career as a longshoreman in Grays Harbor and in Seattle. Mr. Vekich knows port and shipping communities firsthand. He spent his life working in the maritime industry, and knows the challenges faced by the maritime and intermodal transportation system. And I know he understands the importance of what a maritime economy is to the State of Washington's economy and knows how important it is to our national economy as well.” 

Max Vekich is a native of Aberdeen, Washington. He served four consecutive terms as the representative for the 35th Legislative District in Washington state’s House of Representatives from 1983-1991. During Vekich’s tenure, he served as Chair of three committees: Agriculture, Trade & Economic Development, and Commerce & Labor.

In 2004, Vekich joined the Port of Seattle to supervise the loading and unloading of vessels. He also served as a member of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union’s executive board. Vekich is married to Marcee Stone, they have three adult children and four grandchildren. Two of his children are longshore workers and his daughter-in-law is currently in training. 

Video of Senator Cantwell’s floor remarks is available HERE.

A full transcript of Senator Cantwell’s remarks is available HERE.