Brothers and Sisters
Many of you may be surprised that you do not see my name as a candidate for AMO National President.
It has been my goal to remove The incumbent AMO*President. I was never under any misconception that to do this would take a lot of resources. As well as a skill set that I do not currently possess.
When I heard that Paul Doell would run as president I decided not to become a candidate because Paul Doell does in fact possess every skill (and then some)needed to run our organization, that is A.M.O. he thinksseveral moves ahead of everything and is qualified well beyond.Idid not want to split votes.
Please accept Pauls letter to all Great Lakes members as to his intentions.
Remember our only chance now, to remove Tom Bethel, is with your vote. This, Bethel, cannot circumvent as he did with me.
Vote for Paul Doell
Vote for Charles Murdock
The following is from Paul Doell please read and pass along
A first time for everything
This is the year of the unprecedented development in American Maritime Officers. My longtime friend Tom Bethel became the first AMO official targeted for impeachment under the AMO National Constitution and was the first AMO official named in an ethics complaint under our union’s official policy guide. Now I’m the first AMO employee ever to seek election to the office of AMO national president.
This was no easy decision. The AMO presidency is not something I ever aspired to. But I’m in my 42nd*year of service to AMO — a union I was literally raised with — and I’m afraid AMO will not endure four more years of structural and financial instability under Tom’s muddled leadership as national president — and, believe me, it hurts me to define Tom’s recent tenure this way.
I’ve seen dramatic, disheartening change in Tom since his re-election by a 36-vote margin in 2010. He has abandoned the ideals he brought with him into office under controversial circumstances in 2007. He has shed his image as an open, inclusive democratic reformer, and he has enabled laziness, indifference, incompetence, extravagance and self-interest at other administrative levels in our union. Tom has in many cases made a strong work ethic and a real commitment to the seagoing AMO membership quaint, even foolish notions.
Meanwhile, chronic operating budget deficits, rapidly declining dues revenue and staggering financial losses in questionable real estate transactions strain AMO at the seams.
Further substantial loss on Tom’s watch resulted from a poorly planned media drive entrusted in 2013 to an incompetent consultant. Four consecutive AMO executive board meetings have passed without this vanity-driven waste reported or explained, and there are indications that this stealth spending continues.
In addition, Tom’s new nepotism lards the payroll — which accounts for 60 percent of our union’s budget — with unproductive, unqualified personnel.
Under all of these circumstances, the Bethel administration is forced to tap investment accounts routinely to pay the bills — and withdrawals to cover routine expenses or to pay salaries mean smaller balances and lost earning potential as the Dow Jones and the S&P 500 ride record highs.
The prospect of real recovery is dimmed by the alarming and steady loss of deep-sea ships — at least 14 in the first half of this year alone — and by the attendant loss of jobs, the number of which now stands at its lowest in years.
AMO Plans — the benefit funds that serve all deep-sea, Great Lakes and inland waters members and their families — fare no better with Tom Bethel as our union’s lead trustee. Ships lost to the AMO fleet represent multiple millions in employer contributions to all of these funds.
Despite these truths, Tom Bethel’s response is to encourage theperceptionof prosperity, as he did during the AMO executive board meetings held at AMO headquarters in Dania Beach the week of June 23. His attitude appears to be that all is well if he can make everyone believe all is well.
On other fronts, Tom manipulates and interprets the AMO National Constitution to consolidate his power and limit meaningful checks and balances. In a direct affront to every AMO member, Tom now claims absolute authority to defy democratic principle, to nullify secret ballot union-wide elections when the outcome is not what he wanted, to keep AMO officials defeated in union-wide elections on the payroll indefinitely, and to deny the Great Lakes AMO membership representation on our union’s executive board.
Finally, Tom cheapens the conversation in AMO by responding to questions and comments he finds uncomfortable with angry filibusters — speaking loud and long and saying nothing. He often mocks his perceived critics as “idiots,” “morons” or “retards,” no matter how thoughtful their comments or how fair their questions.
These are among the issues I’ll discuss as a son of a founding AMO member during this campaign, and I’ll provide specific, simple and straightforward ways to make things right, to restore responsibility, common sense, credibility and dignity to our union. Some remedies are more difficult than others, but each will be pursued as a mission in the same way the founding membership put ease and expediency aside to do what they had to do for the cause.
I know how Tom Bethel will respond to this, and I’m ready for a lively and ultimately essential exchange. I’m also ready to let Tom and you know what qualifies me to serve in the critical office of national president of American Maritime Officers in this critical time.
Again, this is not something I do casually or happily. Tom and I worked closely together for many years on many important matters. No one was more loyal to Tom Bethel than I. No one else admired Tom’s once-keen instinct more than I. And no one was more protective of Tom’s political interests than I. But I’ve given this a lot of thought — my decision to run is in itself a measure of how disappointing Tom Bethel has become as national president since his narrow win four years ago.
To borrow an AMO newspaper column closer I coined for Tom Bethel, “As always, I welcome your comments and questions.”
Thank you for listening, and thank you for your support.
A Great Lakes place at the table
During the AMO election in 2010, Tom Bethel’s campaign defended the traditional AMO Great Lakes winter area membership meetings against a suggestion that these sessions in several lakes ports were wasteful and unnecessary.
“These meetings provide most Great Lakes AMO members their only opportunities to meet with their elected union representatives — and with each other — to discuss union business and their professional interests because most lakes engineers, mates and stewards are at work aboard their vessels all year and are unable to attend regularly scheduled AMO membership meetings in the port of Toledo,” the Bethel campaign said in a statement.
A lot has changed since then. Tom apparently has decided that the AMO Great Lakes membership is not worthy of any official consideration at all. He ended the annual Great Lakes area meetings altogether, signed away our union’s right to represent the stewards and agreed to job cuts in the Great Lakes fleets.
Even worse, Tom thumbed his nose at the voting AMO deep-sea, Great Lakes and inland waters membership majority, which in 2010 elected opposition candidate John Clemons to the position of Great Lakes vice president over the incumbent, Don Cree, who had run on Tom’s slate. Despite Clemons’s pledge of cooperation and his determination to get to work, Bethel marginalized Clemons immediately and kept Cree on the payroll and put him in complete control of the Great Lakes operation for what amounted to a new if unofficial four-year term in office.
That’s right — in a dramatic demonstration of authoritarian overreach, Bethel effectively overturned the election for Great Lakes vice president.
Tom also relied upon a small bloc of AMO members — few if any of them from the Great Lakes — to amend the AMO National Constitution to close Toledo as a Constitutional port and eliminate the position of Great Lakes vice president. BeginningJanuary 1, 2015, the AMO Great Lakes membership — estimated at360, or 10 times Tom’s winning election margin in 2010*— will be without representation on the AMO executive board and without reasonable access to AMO membership meetings.
However, these 360 Great Lakes engineers and mates will remain bound by the requirement that they pay AMO membership dues to maintain “good standing.”
Tom characterizes these decidedly undemocratic actions as part of a “downsizing” strategy to save money. But Bethel kept Don Cree on the AMO payroll at full salary and benefits until this year (Cree retired May 31). Tom also kept Toledo-based Stan Barnes on the AMO payroll at full salary and benefits, despite Barnes’s defeat in the 2006 AMO election — Barnes will retire in December 2014, eight years after the voting AMO membership majority turned him out of office. Tom had these two opportunities to streamline the Great Lakes operation, but he let them pass.
And, as we’ve learned on other fronts, safeguarding AMO money is not a priority for Tom Bethel.
Unlike Tom Bethel and other insiders, we believe the AMO Great Lakes membership is due a place at our union’s policy table. We believe the AMO administration has a clear, compelling responsibility to these engineers and mates.
Much of our union’s growth in the late 1950s and 1960s — when growth was needed most — occurred on the Great Lakes under the legendary leadership of the late Ray McKay and the late Mel Pelfrey. A transformed economy and a smaller U.S.-flagged Great Lakes fleet do not diminish our respect for Great Lakes engineers and mates, the work they do or the important history they represent.
As national president and national secretary-treasurer of American Maritime Officers, we will pursue the necessary amendment to the AMO National Constitution to restore the official position of Great Lakes vice president, effective with adoption of the amendment — sooner, rather than later. We will fill the position by appointment until we can add it to the ballot in the first subsequent AMO election.
We will also promote an amendment to the AMO National Constitution to reopen Toledo as a Constitutional port.
We know there are at least two real barriers to scheduling monthly AMO membership meetings in Toledo. One is the chronic difficulty of assembling a quorum for an official meeting. The other is the recent sale of One Maritime Plaza on Tom Bethel’s watch. One Maritime Plaza — the Melvin H. Pelfrey Building — is where the AMO membership meeting hall was.
As for the AMO Great Lakes winter area membership meetings, we will determine whether our union’s fragile finances would sustain a renewed annual schedule, even with scaled-back itineraries. Tom Bethel believes participating even briefly in each Great Lakes shipping company’s annual pre-fitout meeting is sufficient, but we disagree. These meetings are restricted typically to senior vessel personnel.
Despite difficulty and disagreement, we will broaden communication with AMO Great Lakes members as effectively and efficiently as possible.
“I want to hear what every deep-sea, Great Lakes and inland waters member has to say,” Tom Bethel said in February 2008. We, too, want to hear what all AMO members have to say. But, unlike Tom Bethel, we do not want to cut Great Lakes engineers and mates out of the conversation.