An Open Letter to Edison Chouest Offshore and Gary Chouest


#1

Hello,

I have been employed at Edison Chouest Offshore for about 6 years now and There are a few things that I need to get off my chest and let you know.

When I got hired at ECO I was in a desperate situation and while at the time you were basically hiring anybody with a pulse I still appreciate what this company did for me and the things I’ve learned here. I will never forget that. This appreciation however does not excuse the way that things have been going recently and I think your employees deserve better. This is not the same company it was. It has changed, the managements attitude has changed, and we are treated like indentured servants.

  1. I have had my license for almost 2 years now and am still working as a deckhand/qmed. I have had my pay and time slashed. I am currently working on one of your MANY “stacked” boats and have had my pay reduced to a level that is barley able to keep me afloat. In fact if I were on a land job It would be barley above minimum wage broken down by the hour.

  2. I have had to borrow money from my 401K to avoid bankruptcy (I’ve taken well over a 50% pay cut over the last few years, I am not a reckless spender). As far as I can tell most of your employees have had to do this, at least on the last few boats I’ve been on. When a huge chunk of your work force is having to delve into their retirement savings just to keep their homes don’t you think there is something terribly wrong? Or do you not care?

  3. Your coordinators are liars and quite frankly useless. I have seen them promising people, including myself, paybumps, promotions, permanent vessels, etc etc. and then turn around and bounce them to 4 boats in one hitch all at severely reduced pay. When you ask your coordinator about this through email they respond with something akin to “that’s just the way it is”. That is if they respond at all which is a highly dubious presumption to make in the first place. And us. Being almost slaves at this point with nowhere to go. Sit here and take it.

  4. You don’t tell us anything. The last time I saw a Manager was over a year ago and updates from the office about the current state of the company are nonexistent. I wouldn’t be shocked if ECO closed their doors tomorrow. When I look around Fourchon I can see nothing but cream and orange hulks sitting idle. What is going on? Are we doomed? What is going on with this company? I know what I am doing to make you money, or was doing at any rate. What are you doing to make me money?

  5. Why are so many contracts seemingly less useful than a sheaf of toilet paper? I have known 7 boats now that had 5 year contracts that were basically torn up and flushed down the toilet. What good are these contracts you are signing if BP can just say “screw it” and bail on it? You need to start using your assets as a bully pulpit. You own Fourchon. You own all the C-ports. I dont even know why you are allowing other companies to use your ports. Take over. Your employees are working for you, what are you doing for them?

  6. Seniority is no longer a positive thing. Quite frankly it seems like this company views seniority as a negative thing. When I go on these stacked boats I see on average a person that’s been here 7-12 years. Sometimes 20. why are you punishing your senior employees with stacked pay? There seems to be absolutely no rhyme or reason to who gets what boat. You let your inept coordinators decide our fates. There should be a system that rewards long term employees with more solid jobs.

  7. I would gladly save you hundreds of dollars a day if you gave me my pay back. I could easily do it too. But as it stands why should I even care? I see this all the time now. The maintenance is getting pencil whipped, fragile and sensitive equipment is broken on purpose, cleaning supplies and oils are wasted and dumped everywhere with reckless abandon, rust ignored, expensive equipment neglected and allowed to burn out, food simply thrown away or left out to rot. Why should we care? Its not our equipment, its not our money. People didn’t have this attitude when you were paying us well. As long as you pay me this BS pay… I am going to cost you more than it would take to simply pay me more. And it isn’t even sabotage. Im not running around with an ax breaking things. Its just a mindset I and others have adopted, some of them don’t even realize it. We cost you a lot more than you think.

  8. Could you please stop building new boats? Every other month I see another damn boat being built. How much do these things cost? You realize you have enough stacked boats here to rival most navies on the planet right? Why are you wasting money on new boats when you have perfectly serviceable boats already here? You could use that money to give us a little pay bump instead of buying a shiny new boat to sit in fourchon.

This is the truth of what is happening in your fleet right now. I hate this job, I hate my coordinator, I hate my manager, and I am beginning to hate this company and view it as more of a prison than an opportunity. I am actively applying and trying to get the hell out of here.

I suppose you wouldn’t understand any of this. If a million dollars disappeared from your checking account you probably wouldn’t even bother trying to track it down, wouldn’t be worth it. You would probably just chuckle it off as you sit in your mansion and do whatever the hell it is that you do. Go on wild safaris, race cars, waste money on ridiculous absurdities, eat a bald eagle hamburger, take a bath in caviar, go skeet shooting with faberge eggs, build another useless addition to the main office with stolen 401K money. I don’t know.

See this is why America is turning into a socialist nightmare. You (the capitalist) has gone too far. I do not begrudge people their success. I love capitalism. But the system gets out of whack when you don’t view your employees as human beings that deserve a good wage for making you all that money.

Now don’t get me wrong. Its fine that you are rich. I am not some wild bernie sanders supporter that thinks McDonalds employees should get 50 dollars an hour and you should pay 98% taxes. I am just saying there should be a damn balance to some extent. But we don’t see that. We see wasteful spending and ongoing construction projects with no known use with seemingly no end in sight at the expense of our paychecks.

WE… your employees…. Are hurting…. Are you? Has this downturn inconvenienced you personally in any way? Do you ever wake up in a cold sweat wondering how you are going to pay your house note? How you are going to pay for your sons college? How you are going to pay for your daughters medical bills? Do you have any idea? Have you ever known what it is to feel these things?

I mean… I seriously doubt you have right? And that’s fine. I am happy for you. Just understand that you have hundreds, maybe thousands of employees that are struggling with these issues right now. And as far as we can tell the company is doing absolutely nothing to alleviate these things. We are, as they say, treated like mushrooms, fed crap, and kept in the dark.

Please consider these things,

  • Employee

to everyone else reading this. I understand your companies are probably treating you in a similar fashion. I understand that and totally sympathize with you.

I am not anti capitalism, I think capitalism is a much better system than anyone else has come up with, and realize that market forces have caused a lot of this and obviously Chouest doesnt control oil prices. I simply think the entire situation is being mismanaged and money is being wasted, and the entire weight of the burden has been placed on the back of the employee with almost no responsibility on the employer or the office.

I do not mean to start a flame war. This is simply what has been on my mind, has been on a lot of peoples minds that i talk to, and yeah. maybe it isnt the most intellectual way to look at things, but its how i feel. and if history is any indication, emotions beat facts and figures any day. this is how people feel.

thank you.


#2

some points I forgot:

  1. You are purposely using that drug addled crackhead foot doctor you employ that got his medical license out of a cracker jack box, as your weaponl to run your employees out of the company. Someone could go in for some simple stitches while they are home and they have to pass Dr. Doolittles gauntlet of insane tests in order to come back to work. No wonder you recently praised your employees for their lack if incidents. WE ARENT REPORTING THEM!!! if we do we risk loosing our jobs. Regardless of all the crap this company puts out about “its always right, to report a wrong, blah blah blah” its all crap and we know it. Its absolute nonsense and its just a way for you to “fire” people without actually having to. This junkie wouldn’t be acceptable as an employee out there. why is he allowed to control our fates?

  2. Before this downturn ECO enjoyed the rumor that ECO never gives paycuts, and never lays off…. Well I guess those rumors turned out to be unfounded clap trap didn’t they? You do realize that IF the oilfield ever comes back you are going to be severely punished for this right? There is no reason for loyalty anymore. You are just another company that doesn’t really care about their employees. You are either going to be paying TOP DOLLAR in fourchon or you will see your very best FLOCKING en mass to other companies for as little as ten dollars more a day.


#3

been a long time for such sweet music to reach my ears, but…

not one GoM mariner here has ever stood for the power of collective bargaining or recognized its potential power to bring meaningful change to the man-men relationship which has always thrived in the South. With no contract, you are in fact a servant to your employer. Your employment is to serve his needs and in return, he has very little obligation to you (particularly in Louisiana).

Here is the proof of everything I have decried since 2008 finally coming home.


#4

agreed. I am no fan of unions per se but something needs to be done here. The problem is that everyone down here has been utterly brainwashed to think unions are the devil. But I would tell those people this. If by some miracle every single Chouest mariner stopped working right now, today. got off the boat, and went home, and said they will come back when the pay is right. how long do you think Gary would stare at that abandoned parking lot?

The answer is he would shit himself, and after he had a cadet wipe it up for him he would get off his ass and start trying to look for solutions to the issues this company is facing that don’t involve slashing our pay to afford ludicrous ventures this company seems to think are grand ideas. that is what unions are capable of doing. Forcing the employer to think about their employees not as individual ants, but an entire ant colony that will eat you alive if you aren’t caring for them properly.

now there are a lot of downsides too. but dammit, things are pretty damn grim right now. anything is better than this. including paying union dues. and quite frankly even if it bankrupted the company I wouldnt care at this point after what they have been putting us through.

and dont give me that “your a socialist/communist” BS. At its heart a union is just a group of free citizens, employees with a common voice. it would be no different than if all the boat guys got together and decided to do something collectively. that is their right to do as an American. just becuase unions elsewhere have grown into business destroying monsters doesn’t mean they have to down here. they didnt always do that, they used to be reasonable entities.

I wish i could get people on board with starting something, since even the threat of unions is probably enough to get these owners scared. but the fact of the matter is that chouest suppresses talk of unions and collective bargaining. just a few years ago they put out a letter basically threatening anyone even speaking of such a thing would be fired, wish i still had the picture of that letter. would post it for you guys to read. if anyone has it please shoot me a message.

all it would take is a spark to start this powder keg called fourchon on fire though. people are fed up. I wish I could start something but idk. i just dont even know where i would begin.

im looking for another job anyways. hopefully ill be out of here soon.


#5

Here we go again…


#6

I can’t wait to hear Jeaux Bawss weigh in on this one!!


#7

It was posted on here shortly after the office sent it out.


#8

“Now hiring for a QMED/Deckhand!” in 3… 2… 1…


#9

exactly.

why else would I be posting anonymously? If I even dared to speak a single point I made in the presence of a coordinator, manager, etc. I probably wouldn’t make it out of Louisiana alive. I would probably be drawn and quarterd, my limbs spread to the four corners of fourchon, my entrails festooned along the rafters of C-port, my head put on display at the next “CHOUEST FEST!!!” celebration, and my genitals stuffed and hung at the crew change center as a warning for other would be “complainers”. the cost of this all being taken out of my 401K of course, and if there wasn’t enough in there to cover it I’m sure another round of paycuts will fit the bill.


#10

About 5 minutes. He knows that is about as long as it would take for every laid off coonass to show up at the gate and thank him for whatever flavor shit sandwich he is serving.


#11

true. Chouest operates exactly like that cable company on south park. except instead of dicking over the customer they dick over their employees and seem to take great joy in it.


#12

No offense to the OP, but at this point, wouldnt you be better served just quitting and heading into town to work in the building trades?


#13

Like I said in my original post, I am working on it. I basically spend all day here doing absolutely nothing except filling out applications to other companies. That is my job at this reduced pay. They want to pay me shit wages they get shit work. I get what I pay for. So should they.

that doesn’t mean I should shut up and not say anything. The saddest thing I see out here are people that are barley scraping by that still suck on on uncle gary’s boom stick and grovel at the feet of the very people that led them to this calamitous end.

There are a lot of morons here still drinking the kool-aid but most people are waking up to the fact that they are basically stuck in this situation with little to no chance of escape and are starting to see through the smokescreen of BS we’ve been fed for the last few years. They are starting to see the wasteful unproductive things this company does and the way we are treated like dogs.

Still… even if ECO decided to cut pay down to 100 dollars a day across the board these people would still be showing up busting their asses all day to make their glorious leader his money. It is a sickness that must be addressed.


#14

don’t take this the wrong way, but having a job is better than no job ( i know we have all heard that warming, comforting advice before.)

many of us who didn’t get (or didn’t bother) to reap the benefits of this last upswing in the oil industry are feeling the domino effect of the down turn, not just you. most professional mariners are feeling it even those who weren’t part of the mass exodus.


#15

I know. That’s why I said:

HOW DARE YOU SIR!!!

Do not misunderstand me. I realize that a job is better than no job. I realize that all companies do these things to some degree. I realize that no matter how much you pay someone they will always want more.

I have simply never seen a company act in such an aggressive and underhanded way toward their employees as chouest has in the last 6 months. I mean im no lawyer, and i am sure they are lawyerd up like OJ. But some of this crap they do is borderline illegal. for example. there are a lot of people coming to these stacked boats that were never informed that they were getting “stacked” pay. you think you are making one thing and then you dont even find out your making a fraction of that until you get your paycheck? that aint right.

that being said. I am in a halfway decent position since They have refused to find me a spot with my license. It basically means that I can go ANYWHERE that will hire me for my license and end up making at least twice as much as what I am making now simply because of the automatic promotion involved with getting hired for my license.

I just wanted to let them know how I and most other people feel out here before I made my exit to greener pastures. im not overly mad at them. at most times i find the whole thing rather comical. but it is sad for many people here struggling to get by and seeing a total lack of support from the office.


#16

i wouldn’t be so sure of that.
what license do you hold by the way?


#17

i get your point but your rant somewhat nullifies your sympathy.


#18

Unless they are paying captains and engineers less than 350 dollars a day where I go I will be getting a significant pay-raise. as well as probably allowing me more than even time. I am not divulging any identifying characteristics about myself or my license though.

I realize there are people worse off than me. but that isnt an argument to stay contented with ones current situation. Its like saying there are starving children in africa. someones always going to have it worse off.

I have nothing but sympathy for those who are struggling and scraping by and realize the situation they are in, and have at least a rudimentary understanding that this company is treating us poorly. I have nothing but contempt for those that eat the turd sandwich with a smile on their face and get on their prayer rugs five times a day to pray towards ECO headquarters. I also have nothing but contempt for the office workers and managers that are supposed to be sporting us but instead do the previously stated things.

My first post is the meat. the rest of this is just banter.


#19

Not sure where you are applying, but most places other than the gom osv sector do equal time, and a lot don’t have set rotations.

It’s tough for deck and engine licenses to get work, from what I have seen…that being said if you are making around 350 a day like your post suggests that’s not that bad.

I am by no means condoning how ECO or other companies are treating people during these dark times, I just wanted to point out how we are all affected by this surplus of mariners and how opportunities elsewhere have declined because of it.


#20

I just had the one year anniversary of my lay off so I’m sorry but no sympathy for somebody who pencil whips maintenance.

Yes I understand people are really hurting. I’ve had one week of paying sea time in a year and I’m able to teach about one week each month. And I’m about to go out for a couple more weeks. That’s how I get by.

I’m sorry, but you should really hang it up if things are so bad. Please don’t have contempt for the people who are still hanging in there. Or the “office people” since some of them probably make less than you.

I’m not going to disagree that the conditions you mentioned are going on and that they stink. They do.

Rant all you want, but if your getting paid, do what your getting paid for. You don’t need to be all gung ho and all, but at least do your job while your at your job.