Apprentice programs - SIU or AMO?

I believe that vacation pay and pension credit are two separate topics. Are you saying he gets 1.5:1 pension credit?

They are not really separate topics with regards to pension calculations.

Re: Supplemental Service Days for Seamen
Beginning June 16, 2002, seamen whose employers are paying the proper amount to the Plan can receive credit for supplemental service based on their vacation benefit. You can receive credit for supplemental service for each day of paid vacation that you are eligible to receive from the Seafarers Vacation Plan.

The supplemental service credit will count toward qualifying you for all pension benefits except the Deferred Vested Pension benefit. In addition, supplemental service credit will also count toward qualifying you for the Service Increments and the Early Normal Supplement.

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So he gets 1:1 credit but also gets credit for vacation days.

Yes. That is how it works. You also get pension credit for the time attending eligible upgrading courses at the Seafarers Harry Lundeberg School of Seamanship (Piney Point).

For deep sea sailors.

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Nevermind, I misread the rules. You are correct.

The SIU has plenty of good contracts. People just don’t try harder enough to get to them.

During nearly all of my career I dealt with the standard Deep Sea Freight Ship agreement. I am sure there are others but I am not familiar with those. As Chief, I have found that many in the SIU are not familiar with their own contracts and often they are not readily available at the SIU union halls.

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Again, I really think there is a big disparity between their unlicensed and licensed contracts. Most of us consider the SIU as an unlicensed union but they have widdled their way into some lower tonnage contracts over the years. Compared to the unlicensed standard freight ship agreement I believe it is night and day.

I definitely agree that most members do not know their own contracts or MOU’s. I have never had a problem helping them out with that though.

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I think the 401k was a carry-over from when the NMU was merged. This happened just before I retired. I heard the fully vested NMU guys got a $100K annuity to make up their pension loss.
As far as company match, I was told if the company is paying into a pension, by law they could not pay into the 401K.
They also had the “money purchase plan”. You have to cash it in within 2 years after retirement. Mine averaged 12% return annually.

I never had that problem. Also every SIU contracted tug I was on had a copy of the contract.

Also another caveat in some of the inland contracts is “The company has the right to hire the most qualified person of the manpower pool”. Regardless of seniority.

During my time there, it was always a problem. Not only are they not readily available, they actively hide them. Some people don’t give a shit, but those who do, the awful sweet heart deals contained therein could dissuade them from taking a job. Unlicensed get paid complete dog shit at SIU. This ties into the whole benefit conversation. Doesn’t matter what it says, if your benefits are calculated from your base wage, out of 11-15 an hour watchstander McDonalds nightshift like pay, you’re gonna get a complete turd sandwich once you’re done. Their excuse is “this is what keeps jobs in America”. No, it is MSP, motherfucker, and those already are a third world seafarers wages.

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It would be negligent of them not to offer one, even without matching.

The SIU does have a 401K plan. I am not sure how it is publicized or how many members have signed on. When my son gets off the ship I will ask him if he is aware that it is offered or if the enrollment forms are available on his ship. The 401K plan is not matching but there is also a “Money Purchase Plan” that companies contribute into. I do not know if all contracted companies participate.

In my case (MEBA), I participated in the 401K to the maximum amount allowed. The enrollment forms were in my office that I offered to the engineers coming aboard. Once filled out they gave to the Captain to process.

It disturbs me that I often know more about the SIU than my son who has been a member for a fair number of years.

I realize that. We have been discussing it.

They will have mailed him a booklet about the plan including sign up forms.

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.