Go with a Union company or not?

Looking to get a job on a tugboat & will be starting out as a new deckhand. I’m wondering if I should try and get a job with a company who is union or should I stay away from the union companies??? I guess I’m looking for the pro’s & con’s from your experiance. Thanks in advance for your time.

In today’s economy I would try to get on anywhere I could, union or otherwise, and take what I could get. I’ve never been union so I can’t objectively say if one is better than the other. My guess is that both options have their good and bad attributes.

I don’t think it will cost you too much to apply thru the union so what have you got to loose. Take whichever route will get you a job the quickest.

I agree with you Azimuth, on taking whatever I can get and I will. (beggers can’t be choosers) I’m not against a union, I’m just looking for some info from some of the guys out here that have been around. I know everyone has different ideas based on there job experiances. I would love to hear everyones thoughts. Thanks

I think knot!!!

Anybody ???

have worked both union and nonunion…consider a union as yet another entity to deal with in the employment scheme of things…this can sometimes complicate the process…that said, from an entry level perspective concentrate on finding a company union or nonunion that hires “green hands” and offers some avenue for advancement…BTW most offshore towing companies are hesitant to hire “green deckhands” as the deck work is dangerous (involves consistently working with line, cable, chain, and rigging under tension) and requiring numerous vessel specific evolutions and various skill sets.


I’ve sailed both and as others have said that there are pros and cons for both. I spent the last 24 years with 2 companies under SIU contract and in my experience, it was worth the move.

Getting started in this down-turn will be a challange. Entry level jobs are first offered to the grads of the trainee program. Also with the SIU, all tugs, including seagoing and ATBs come under the inland division. When you talk to a port agent, be sure to tell him you are looking for a tug job. But as others have said, take anything to get started. Other opportunities will come as you gain senority. Also, upgrading courses, transportation, room and board are free to members. Good luck!

Use the search feature. I just tried it with the keyword “union” and it came up with plenty for you to read. Good Luck.

without any experience, i wouldnt turn down anything. union, non union, a company that requires the horn to “service” the captain. anything. getting your foot in the door with any company is a little rough right now.


If you have a TWIC, MMD, you are in decent shape, and can pass a drug test you should have no problem finding work. If I was you, I’d put together a short list of the top companies that you would like to work for. Once you have this list then pack up your kit and go see them in person and tell them what you want. If you show that you really want a job, you will find a job. Do some research and walk in the door with some knowledge of each company that you are meeting with. If you walk in the door confused and not prepared you will get put on a crap vessel or will not get hired.

Good luck.

Thanks guys for all the great info.


Why a tug anyway? What kind of tug? Where in the US? I’d like to help more but need more info.


Looking anywhere on the East Coast. Tugs ??? well I guess that I don’t want to be gone 4 to 6 months at a time like MSC. Just a preferance.