How to get a job with AMO

So I’m an applicant with AMO and I’m confused about what I need to do to get a job…I’ve always been told that once you register to ship, the dispatcher will call when it’s your “turn”…after waiting a while, I call the dispatcher and am told to call back on a regular basis…then, I’m talking to an ex-co-worker who now sails with AMO and he says I can log in on a website to see the board and pick jobs there…please help if anyone has any advise…thanks

I don’t know anything about how to get selected to ship but be aware that the AMO has numerous contracts which pay dirt wages and I don’t believe you have a way to find out what the pay will be before you decide to take the job.

Met a third mate working on a Maersk managed TAGOS ship here in Singapore yesterday and was simply stunned when he told me what his pay was and the length of the articles he had to sign on for! I am absolutely appalled that things have never changed since the 1980’s when Sea Mobility was running those ships (in fact, the pay was only a fraction higher for that 3rd mate than it was almost 25 years ago!).

There is absolutely no question in my mind that the AMO is in bed with these ship operating companies and puts the interest of them and the union far ahead of the rank and file mariners who pay dues to supposedly represent them. So beware that you might well be in for a shock when you do get your berth.

A lot of generalities concerning pay. What’s low to someone might be acceptable to others. Since this is third party information; would you care to disclose exactly what that 3rd was making.

I’m not in it for they money as my number one motivator, but I would be interested in sailing a variety routes/vessels if I knew I could be in my comfort zone regarding earning a living. Arguments for union/non-union, or even what union, are hard to weigh objectively without some facts. And how would anyone be able to take a job and not know the pay before you committed. Seems underhanded.

If anyone cares to share, I’m all ears.

The idea of not being told the pay before committing is a very common phenomenon in AMO. Stories abound of folks being offered jobs; said folks would ask the pay and be told some version of “you’ll find out when you get there”, “do you want this job or not?”, or up to and including “if you don’t take this job you’ll be sitting on the beach for a year”. I personally know one gentleman who was put in touch with a certain company…let’s call them “Sealift Inc.”…the hiring manager told him the pay was x dollars per day. He got to the ship (in Singapore) and found out the pay was really ½x. Obviously, being flown out to Singapore, he wasn’t in a position to refuse the job and thus have to pay HIS flight back AND his relief’s flight out. And don’t even think of asking for a copy of any contract.

I understand the point about one man’s low pay being another man’s adequate pay. But in my mind there’s a larger picture: the idea that a union is supposed to be on the membership’s side and NOT the company’s side. AMO has had a long history of accepting terrible contracts and then forcing unwilling members to work those contracts. As long as companies know they can get labor for a certain rate, why voluntarily raise those rates? Also remember that, in a union such as AMO, where there are multiple employers, low contracts tend to have a downward pressure on other contracts.

As far as dispatching goes…someone else who regularly ships “off the board” could probably answer this better, but…there’s supposed to be an order, based on registration time and membership status (members ship before applicants). I understand they don’t always hold to this, however. It’s also true that there’s a shipping board on the AMO website–but that site appears to be virtually useless. It’s mostly relief ROS jobs. If you want to get out, the best way is probably to call the dispatcher…maybe not daily, but definitely regularly. They’re more likely to call you back with a job if they remember your name.

To summarize the last three paragraphs: nothing’s changed in AMO.

By the way, anyone else notice AMO threads on this website have fallen strangely silent since the election? I also understand gCaptain is inaccessible at the STAR Center. Transparent as a steel bulkhead!

I was offered a position with a AMO vessel, when I asked about the pay from the company rep, got lots of fast talking with lots of maybe numbers and maybe OT, will have to wait till you get to the vessel kind of talk, I asked for this information to be e-mailed to me and could I get a copy of the contract, was told to call the hall! I called the hall and asked for a copy of the contract, was told they did not have one, what the f–k, and "why do you need that, I can tell you anything you want [read, want to hear] over the phone. I did not ship out. I have worked with a bunch of X-AMO guys who all have run far and wide. Best of luck.

So tell me again how AMO can call itself a “union” when, judging by the consistency of posts which describe the impossibility of obtaining pay and contract information prior to dispatch, the actions of the organization’s leadership appear to be dedicated to keeping a firewall between “members” and employers?

Every description of AMO hiring practices posted here and elsewhere smells more like those of an anti-union, company directed employment agency.

If the comment about gCaptain being blocked at the STAR center is true, shouldn’t the “union” members demand to know why their leadership would block access to an advertiser that is paid from their “union” treasury?

Thanks for the replys…in case it helps solicit any other input, I hold a 2nd engineer but would be willing to take a 3rd job (and have told the dispatcher that)…for the record, based on everything I understand about the unions, I would prefer MEBA, but I don’t live near a hall…thus the “assumption” that AMO would be a better option since they “supposedly” call you at home…now it looks like I’ll have to re-evaluate…

Additionally, I have to agree with awfulclark above regarding the complete silence of the AMO posters since the election…that’s one of the main reasons I posted this question here as I thought there would be a lot of input from AMO guys…interesting…

[I]“I would prefer MEBA, but I don’t live near a hall …”[/I]

A very large number of MEBA members do not live near a hall or even the hall they ship out of. Members go to the hall that has the ships they want to work on and arrange to be there when the job is called. When the hall is quiet job hunters can peruse the latest contracts and pay scales of all contracted companies.

Travelling to a hall and waiting around might seem like a pain but as you are discovering, tranparency and truth in shipping is worth a lot. Not much is handed to you in this business and you have to make some uncomfortable investments to get started but they pay great returns. Life is too short and shipping can be stressful enough on you and your family without having to deal with the kind of things you have run into with the pay me now and “we might call you later” bunch. Rotary shipping through the union hall lets you know where you stand and what you stand to make.

While waiting for your boat to come in you can also do port relief work or day work (night jobs) on a night card without burning up a shipping card. Some ports offer quite a bit of that type of work and it’s a great way for an applicant to learn how the system works and to become acquainted with the ships and union brothers and sisters. MEBA is a union.

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I live about 6 hours away from the closest hall. I usually clear the hall wherever the ship will be. When I used to sail of the board, I did not mind going to sit in a hall. I would get 1 to 3 day jobs a week while waiting for a shipping job. Each day job will pay about $350 (West Coast container ships). I also knew who got each job that came into the hall and that the person who took the job had all the qualifications. I was also able to see every contract before taking a job. The only uncertainty was the amount of OT given out. Usually though, there is someone in the hall who has a general idea of OT. Holding a 2nds license is a good thing with MEBA. On the West Coast they have quite a few tankers that are lower paying and most seasoned guys don’t take them, and they go open and are usually filled in the gulf somewhere.

I liked where this thread started but didn’t like where it was taken by some. ‘Hawespiper’ clearly asked a question about how to get a job with AMO and the response has been way off the mark. Just because AMO is not for you doesn’t mean that it’s not for anyone. Hundreds of sailors I’m sure have had successful and enjoyable careers with AMO, or any union for that matter so who are we to pass judgement based on things you hear through the grapevine or personal experience/needs. There are plenty of other threads on this forum for you to argue your case about going union or not.

Can’t we just answer the question people?!

Answers are not way off when he then inquired about re evaluating MEBA. He also said he would prefer MEBA

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As an AMO member with several years of experience in their operations (as a current member and earlier “observing” during my unlicensed time), I will offer my two cents.

AMO is not all garbage jobs. Just 75%. As previously mentioned, one man’s junk is another man’s treasure, but I have yet to hear any sailor say they are overpaid.

AMO Dispatching is hit or miss. I have not had the pleasure of using the deep-sea dispatching method, but have had good luck with the Great Lakes (Toledo) office. Perhaps I will regret disclosing this, but Bruce is very open on what the pay is, if you will work for 30 days or longer, and he will give you an honest opinion on where he sees things playing out. When there IS a list of guys shipping through the hall on the lakes, as a member, I have never waited more than three weeks for a job. They are fair with shipping in order and members over applicants. With several AMO Lakes companies having the same contract, all the jobs are about the same. For Key Lakes, which still pays hourly, I found it decent and better than my deep-sea job by far. The difference with hourly all comes down to how much OT do you want to work (and how much is offered - usually it’s enough).

Having a good friend shipping through MEBA, I can only rely on what he tells me, but doesn’t seem as bad of a deal as most AMO members will portray. Sure, traveling to the hall and the uncertainty of waiting for work isn’t exactly comforting, but is waiting for the phone to ring any better? The differences for you are the out-of-pocket expense in hotel bills and being away from your family, but the MEBA members here can probably fill you in better on those details.

Early in my career as an officer, I chose AMO for the job stability (no rotary shipping unless you f**k up on a ship and are asked to not return) and the option of being hired direct by the shipping companies. In the end it has worked out for me and my situation, but I now regret accepting convenience over cash. I have sailed on ships that would fall apart if not for the regular, returning people, and I have been on ships that could use the rotary system to prevent some from getting too comfortable on “their” homestead.

Both unions employ some very intelligent people as well as the well-known dummkopfs. My opinion is the MEBA takes greater care of their members compared to AMO. AMO has more jobs, but do you prefer quantity or quality? And lastly, not to inflame the readership, but I was a 100% pro-AMO guy until my pension disappeared. I can no longer recommend them as the best option at this point.

Certainly I appreciate any input about MEBA…the negative things I’ve read in this thread about AMO are not the first time I’ve heard of these issues. I.e., can’t see the contract, take it or leave it attitude about jobs, non-transperency with respect who gets jobs, etc. And now, it seems the “advantages” that AMO supposedly had aren’t even real (can be shipped from home, more jobs = less time waiting once you request to work)…sounds like it’s back to the MEBA hall for me…

Any input from you MEBA guys about which hall is in need for someone to take some “less desireable” 3rd or 2nd jobs? brjones listed “west coast” above…any particulars?


Any input from you MEBA guys about which hall is in need for someone to take some “less desireable” 3rd or 2nd jobs? brjones listed “west coast” above…any particulars?[/QUOTE]

Long Beach for day work while waiting, reasonable accomodation costs, and good chances at high paying contracts that you allowed to read.

“Hawsepiper”: I understand AMO has plenty of engineer jobs and not quite enough engineers. Not necessarily trying to get you to join AMO, just putting that one out there. I wouldn’t think you’d have to wait all that long for a job. I know a couple mates who waited quite a while, but engineers should be getting out faster. Also, the AMO membership process is pretty easy: pay your initiation, I believe $4K now, get a letter of recommendation from a member you’ve worked with, and send in the application. MEBA guys can probably clean this up a little, but I hear the process to getting a MEBA book is a little longer and depends on a hard ratio of members to jobs.

So, from my POV, the choice comes down to: you’ll probably get steady work faster with AMO, but it may be low-end pay for a while, plus not much promise of a solid pension or adequate union representation. It sounds like you’ll get more of the union lifestyle with MEBA, but it may be harder to get work right away. And, in my mind, the “ship from home” aspect of AMO is still something of an advantage, at least once you get a steady job, because then the company will fly you from home straight to the ship without having to go register at a hall first. But balance that against not really knowing what else is out there. And then, in a hall you can talk to other members and get a real sense of what the average Joe (or Jane) member is really wanting and thinking.

One last off-topic thought: Jack Hearn has filed an election challenge. Details in the appropriate thread.

AMO has a shortage of engineers…I keep hearing that, but still no luck for me…makes me think I’m supposed to slip some $$$ to somebody…I don’t know…bottom line is that I’m getting a lot of red flags VERY early on regarding AMO and I don’t think it’s something I’m going to persue.

I quit my GOM company because they wouldn’t assign me to an unlim. HP vessel and I don’t want to get a HP limitation on my next upgrade, so I figure I’d look to go deep sea to actually use my unlimited license…I may have to do the highway 90 tour to try to find a GOM company that can assign me to a 4,000+ HP vessel…

Thanks to steamer and awfulclark regarding the west coast MEBA tip though…I am going to try that first…as soon as I identify the “reasonable accomadation costs” cited above…


Have you been in touch with any of the drilling companies? There is a building boom in new MODU’s and if they are headed to the Gulf of Mexico, they need US officers. One thing about drilling is that they have become the highest paying shipboard jobs available to an American mariner. There’s Transocean, Pride, Diamond, Noble, and several others. Noble has some of the least stringent standards to be hired but they are not a Cadillac company however they are still a far better option that going with the AMO. I believe the BULLY I is in immediate need of a 2nd assistant.

Anyway, just my two cents.


Not lately…I have applied to Transocean via thier website in the past, but never heard back…based on the job descriptions the drill companies put on rigzone, it seems like they want prior drillship experience…thanks for the tip though…I’ll be in Houston late next week (after my “highway 90” tour) so I’ll go by the drilling companies offices in person…maybe that will make a difference

I was in the MEBA Oakland hall today and there were 7 day jobs and only 3 people there to try and fill them. No shipping jobs on the board, but the 3 guys doubled up and will make about $700 for a days work.Not a bad gig while waiting to ship out

The internet is still a wonderful thing sometimes. Look up the companies that you might want to work for and start calling the personnel managers or crewing coordinators - make sure you have all your documents ready to fax or email, you won’t sit long.