General Dynamics American Overseas Marine

Shady Shady Shady


I have never sailed with AMSEA and likely never well but I must ask what is the point of bringing up an incident that occurred nearly 12 years ago. If you are familiar with what happened, what did the SIU do on behalf of their members?

Just because it only reached the air conditioned offices of a courthouse once 7 years ago doesn’t mean it hasn’t still been going on. Because of the Admiralty Act and the Public Vessels Act the company remains untouchable as far as the way they conduct business.

The appeal was heard 7 years ago. The original case in which they lost was adjudicated before that. The ones that were shady were the lawyers who took the case in hopes of cashing out on the punitive damages and attorney fees claim. The USNS Benavidez is a public vessel, why didn’t they sue the US Government?

If it was a bad firing they should have filed a grievance with the SIU against the company and it would have gone through the contractual process they worked under, i.e., arbitration. Had they won they would have been compensated. Instead they probably listened to some sea lawyer brethren at the hall who told them they could win “big” money and pointed to the business cards hanging on the bulletin board or one of them road side billboards.


I started my career with the SIU over forty years ago. I have seen more than a few SIU members railroaded off a ship. No matter how egregious, trumped up, or patently unjust the dismissal, if the SIU official could not get the person on the ship doing the firing to relent, that was the end of the story. I have no knowledge of the SIU having ever arbitrated on the behalf of a member. Typically the aggrieved member when he goes to the hall to complain is told: “don’t worry we’ll take care of you” and then back door dispatched to another ship, Problem solved. That is the SIU’s idea of representation.

By contrast the now defunct NMU and the MEBA (and I am assuming the SUP and MMP, though I have no direct knowledge) would arbitrate on the behalf of their members even when there were circumstances that might have justified the dismissal. This is called representation and it is among the things for which you pay dues and what the membership deserves.

No wonder the companies love the SIU and its licensed clone the AMO.

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I retired from the SIU and seen the good and bad. About a year after I retired, I got a call from a cook I sailed with for a couple of years, wanting my advice.
As it happened, they left the shipyard and were loading in Texas City. The cook is strolling on the back deck of the ATB talking on his cell phone and smoking a cigarette. A dock worker observes this and shuts the operation down. The cook is fired…
He filed a grievance and 6 months later is given 90 days back pay. It seems when the tug was painted the NO SMOKING signs had not been reposted…
He wanted to know if I thought he should push to get his job back. I told him to take the money and run back to the hall. If you push for the job, you’ll have the Sword of Damocles over your head. He pushed for further explanation about the sword. I said google it and have not heard back.

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Call me a stickler for the rules, but having worked on tankers in the past, both of those activities (open light on deck & non intrinsically safe device) would have gotten you instantly fired. Sign or not. Hell they wouldn’t even let you have a lighter in your pocket at any time while onboard.

If this guy had been employed onboard for several years, he didn’t need a sign on deck. He knew not to do it and was endangering everyone onboard by throwing caution to the wind. He should have taken his firing as a hard lesson to learn and move on. Without accountability and conscientiousness for our actions, we can never truly have safety. Just excuses when something major goes wrong.


You’re exactly right. The crews were slowly being dotted with idiots like this. That’s why I keep saying “retirement is NOT over-rated”!


I think I know that guy Damocles. An Italian guy from Staten Island. He was a QMED on the S.S. Ponce. when Navieras had the Puerto Rico run. It must be the same guy. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

Did he have a sword hung over his head by a single hair from a horse’s tail?

He did but the Captain confiscated the sword when he signed on.