It is good to see the democratic process unfold and I am happy to see some very qualified individuals running, including the incumbents. I have been in AMO for going on 32 years. I was a very outspoken opponent of the Bethel regime mostly due to Tom’s open disdain for the members and for the half hearted contracts that Bob Kiefer negotiated, especially towards the end.
I can say in all honesty that I am better off than I was 4 years ago if for no other reason than I feel I can communicate directly with Paul and other union officials and feel like I am being heard. That is not to say there can’t be improvements. This last batch of MOUs/CBAs was weak as a whole considering the state of the economy at this time. Wages for going to sea are depressed right now and this needs to be addressed sooner than later. There really is no premium for going to sea right now.
Hopefully whoever gets elected to carry this union forward will focus on;
- Streamlining the union to ensure that more of the “pie” is going where it should, to the members.
- Secure financing specifically earmarked for the DC benefit plan on n every new contract so that this plan becomes a viable retirement vehicle. At the moment it is not.
3)Put more emphasis on full compensation for the ever increasing training requirements and travel. With airlines cutting back on flight options and companies looking for cut rate flights it is common to lose an entire day even when joining coastwise.
- Come up with an acceptable solution for those members who lost a huge amount of value to their DB plans. This was completely mishandled by Bethel and conducted in a way that greatly benefited a few ( including him) and hurt almost every other member. Doell did at least end the double dipping practice of rewarding lump some guys in the DC plan for the same years they got paid for in the buyout but more needs to be done to right this wrong.
- Include more members in the CBA process, especially in the early stages. Simply sending out a questionnaire and then hand picking a few individuals to be present during negotiations is not enough. There needs to be some consensus to the final procduct as well. I realize the union needs some flexibility during the negotiating process but under no circumstances should a contract be signed before it has been presented to the membership.
I am happy to see AMO in the situation where we can think about having our members share more in the profits of the company’s we represent. Having leaders that both understand and respect the value of what we as members bring to the table goes a long way towards convincing the company’s we are worth the investment.