Apprentice programs - SIU or AMO?

I ask every SIU member signing on if they want to sign up for 401k and probably 1 in 20 goes for it. Most will then also try to take more allowances than they are allowed and request cash at payoff. Financial planning does not seem to be their strong suit.


I haven’t been working that long, but it seems to be a particular problem among seafarers. Seems like a lot of guys work over just to keep the brand new car or boat or whatever other depreciating asset they whimsy. The irony is the more they work the less time they have to enjoy it! And retirement? “Yeah I’ll just play the lotto until I hit it big”

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To the OP, @HenryC, I hope this thread his proved informative. Which ever way you pursue this, go into it eyes wide open. There are pluses and minuses to every program whether it be time, money, or required commitments. The first step is setting a goal and maintaining that focus which can be hard as other aspects of life creep in.


Belated answer to your questions, as you know we have no A,B, C books or “official” seniority list system. Everyone competes equally in theory but everyone knows that a members resume and experience and history with the contracted companies is the key factor as to who goes where. The companies have experience with the members they want and keep the list of members they want and frequently request them. The dispatchers post open jobs on an online board. You are correct that there are more openings in reality than are listed, the ones which are not listed are the openings where the companies try to fill them with members they have a rack record with and if the spots can’t be filled they go on the internet board and the physical listing at the AMO office in Dania or by calling dispatch at that location. The flexibility the companies have with the AMO appears to be far greater than the other unions and that may strike you as a good old boy system but has advantages for the members as well. The AMO dispatchers have ultimate discretion with placing members and will negotiate with the companies on our behalf. We are encouraged to pass our resume around to a company/ companies AFTER clearing with dispatch first. Backdoor shipping (contacting the company w/o prior permission is not permitted and members are fined and disqualified if caught doing so). Under the table payments and nepotism was a problem when I first joined and dispatch was run out of a separate dispatching office in New York. At that time there was no transparency and new members were dispatched to undesirable ships as their only alternative.

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First of all, thanks for the informative reply.

The text I quoted here seems odd to me. So if I’m sailing on one of the bad contracts and, of course, am interested in sailing for Tote or some other better paying job, I have to ask permission to send Tote a resume? Under what circumstances would the union not grant me permission to do that? I don’t understand why the union would care which members get hired.

The old time maritime strikes fought for a union hall. This type of dispatching sounds like an old fashioned “shape up”

If your envelope is not thick enough. That’s the circumstance.


Seems to me it has everything to do with benefitting the company and not the membership if that is what you choose to call it. You are not describing a union or at least what most would consider a union. Your resume and record with the company comes into play as you progress up to senior officer status with the other unions, but that is definitely where the similarity ends if you ask me.

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Apologies if I did not correctly clarify. We are encouraged to pass our resume’s to any and all companies but are required to notify dispatch to prevent members making arrangements for backdoor shipping w/o the union being notified. My use of “clear” was not to infer that they would deny the membership that right, but they need to be kept in the loop, When I first joined, passing resume’s around to companies was not allowed and contacting companies even w/ union knowledge was not permitted (except as far as I figured out at the time for the top 4). Also if a member has been sailing with company A and scheduled to return to work, the union wants to insure proper notice is given to the company and not a sudden departure leaving the member onboard sitting w/o a relief and dispatch scrambling to fill the slot. It was a steep learning curve for me since I came from the non-union oilfield and never looked back. Once $65/ bbl oil is the norm and members leave for the “real” money, I hope they are blocked from ever returning and joining any union again but I digress.

If I could go back I would have gone this route with the Army or gone to one of the maritime academies and done the ROTC thing so uncle sam could have paid for my tuition.

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That seems unfair. Why should anyone be barred from working in any sector? I’m in the GOM now, but would consider towing or deep sea in a few years to experience other aspects of the industry.

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Again apologies, I did not clarify myself. I was referring to those members I know from the union I belong to, who either jumped ship in the past to took an oilfield job and then after being laid off during the oilfield downturn, came back again, hat in hand, were welcomed back with no consequences, many of whom never even bothered to take a leave of absence or freeze their union membership. Some even had left with DPO training and were not required to pay back the training costs (this has been addressed since then). I was not referring to mariners who started in the oil field and other maritime sectors and join the union as I did as well.

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“…not if they don’t have jobs.” The reason the AMO (and at the time of inception SIU)started the 2 yr engineer tech program is because there are always more openings for marine engineers, than bodies to fill them and the junior engineers from the ring factories (no offence) have so many shoreside opportunities, they do not stay longer than 3-4yr on the average. Being a decky the same cannot be said for us, hence there is no similar program for the deck side. Think about it, if there were no engineering jobs in AMO, why would the ring knockers themselves dominating the union underwrite this?

Owww those meanie AMO guys actually are trying to prepare them for the luxurious world of shipping which apparently includes breakfast in bed for MM&P mariners

Because by taking a job in a non-union sector (oil patch for example), you are undermining the union’s ability to get a foothold in that sector. Member has the right to go of course, but at a minimum should lose all seniority and accrued time and preferably be barred from rejoining the union.

Not sure what you’re getting at…

For once shooter I will have to agree with you shipmate.

Since I am not a lifelong union guy, I was not inculcated in the “help me, I have fallen and can’t get up” traditional old time union mentality. That being said I am a strong supporter of all maritime unions since the maritime industry in this country could not survive and could not apply the required political pressure to keep what little we still have via cabotage laws and the Jones Act. I have never served on Jones Act ships, preferring to sail overseas, but am very aware that protecting the cabotage laws is just as critical to the entire maritime industry regardless. I have nothing but the highest respect for the benefits the AMO has given us and have something to compare it with (the non-union oil field and seismic industry) unlike those who only know the union world. Having to travel a thousand miles to sit in a hall and book a room in a flop house sounds very nostalgic and appealing, but since I live in the twentyfirst century I will take a pass on that, thank you. I am very happy you dislike the AMO and stick with MM+P or MEBA. To each their own. In the end all of the union infighting only benefits the enemies of our industry and the proponents wanting to repeal the Jones Act.

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I have been in all 3 phases of employment over my career. Started with a great opportunity with SIU as a youngster. Upgraded at the Lundeburg school(Now PAUL HALL) numerous times as dues paying member for free tuition. Actually sold my beloved 65 Mustang to help with my personal expenses while upgrading for a deck license. Sailed as a mate and captain for a number of years before the company decided we were"Management". Luckily was 10 yr vested with Siu before that happened. That went on for some time until AMO came in and was successful in getting the officers and Chief engineers to join. Best decision of my life. We were able to use their facilities in Dania for the many upgrades the USCG and other entities were requiring at an increasing pace. The retirement and benefits I enjoy are priceless. Yes, my pension was frozen for obvious reasons early on in my retirement, still had a great insurance coverage and my check is never late. The management of AMO at the time I retired was not up to par, and ousted. They collectively put our pension in a not so desired position The “New” existing management had to take drastic measures to protect and grow our funds back to health, or see it go down the toilet as many other unions have seen the effects by not taking action and remain status quo. Is AMO perfect? No , but they are doing right by the membership, lobbying on the industry’s and memberships behalf. I would still be working today to even get close to what the"Non Union" company was offering in pension and benefits. Keep up the good work Mr Doell and your associates.