The Maritime Trades Department, AFL-CIO, is a department within the AFL-CIO labor federation that acts as an advocacy group and coalition of 23 national labor unions involved in maritime, trade, and port issues. The department acts as the AFL-CIO’s lobbying arm on those issues and supports left-leaning pro-union policies at the federal level.
The department was established in 1946 and advocates for labor issues specific to the maritime industry, such as the preservation of the Jones Act, as well as the left-leaning agenda of the broader labor movement. Member unions of the department include maritime-adjacent unions such as the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers and Helpers, the Seafarers International Union of North America (SIUNA), and the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers, but also includes unions such as the American Federation of Teachers and the Communication Workers of America.  
The Maritime Trades Department was formed in 1946 by the American Federation of Labor prior to its merger to become the AFL-CIO. The department was founded to push for labor unionism in the maritime industry; throughout the remainder of the 20th century began to focus its efforts on promoting protectionist policies in order to benefit U.S.-flagged and Canadian-flagged ship workers. 
The organization has been involved in lobbying for or against many notable pieces of maritime legislation as well as supporting the broader labor movement. The department’s website mentions that it strongly supported the former worker labor union organizing work of Cesar Chavez, provided backing to the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) state level push to allow government workers to bargain collectively against taxpayers, and played a role in the Wall Street Strike of 1948. 
Pieces of federal legislation that the organization has supported throughout its history include the Cargo Preference Act of 1954, the Merchant Marine Act of 1970, and the Maritime Security Act of 1995. The organization also strongly supports preservation of the Jones Act, a landmark piece of maritime legislation that strictly limits which ships may carry passengers and cargo between U.S. ports. 
The work of the Maritime Trades Department, AFL-CIO, varies between supporting broader pro-labor policies such as opposing right to work and advocating for increased minimum wages and supporting pro-union policies specific to the maritime industry such as preserving the Jones Act.  
The Maritime Trades Department carries out much of its work through its network of local maritime trades councils. These councils have provided support for the department’s agenda including support for programs such as the Title XI shipbuilding loan guarantee program, the Jones Act, and cargo preference.  
Michael Sacco is the president of the Maritime Trades Department, AFL-CIO. He is also the president of the Seafarers International Union of North America and has been the president of both the SIUNA and the Maritime Trades Department since 1988. Sacco began his career as a union member for the Seafarers international Union in 1958 while working on vessels and has been working in full-time union posts since the 1960s.