Is there a black list?

I worked as a deckhand for the Woods Hole Oceanographic inst. for eight years. A year ago
a friend of mine, a young girl just out of maritime school, was being harassed openly and
consistently by the chief engineer. I asked a member of the department (an oiler) what was
going on and he told me, straight out, that he and the chief were trying to get the girl to quit.
Turns out the chief had promised the job to the oiler in question, his only friend on the ship.
This is a young, inexperienced third and she was afraid to take it to the captain, so I went
to the bridge as her advocate. Nothing between us; I just thought she was getting a raw deal.
The captain didn’t want to hear it, told me to bury it and refused the investigate the issue.
So i cornered the chief and told him I knew what he was up to. I told him he had to stop or
he’d deal with me on the dock. Bad move, i know. Long story short, the captain wrote me
up for disrespect and I was fired for creating ‘a threatening work environment.’ Okay, I blame
myself. I screwed up, handled it badly and got what i probably deserved. Up to that point I
had a stellar record: great evaluations and a recent promotion. But the hundred or so resumes
I’ve sent out have elicited a deafening silence. I’ve heard rumors of a black list from time to time.
Is it possible my sailing career is just flat out over?

As Marty used to say… Verrrrrryy Interrrresting! God, am I dating myself! anyway.

YES there is a black list. Although it is not as black as you may think!

There are several tactics HR uses to communicate references. I am sure you used WHOI as a reference correct? Prospective employers do call and ask. It is definately illegal for one company to ‘badmouth’ you to another, They get around this with ‘code words’ during a conversation. Such as when asked was the employee discharged for cause, they say yes. Then the next question would be is the person allowed to be eligible for rehire. So the answer would be, the guy was fired, and we don’t want/accept him back. Yes that could be a death knell to your chances.

My suggestion would be to go get a job elsewhere that doesn’t hinge on prior recommendations, to use THAT as a reference to move on.

You do realize that the maritime community is REALLY small, and most reputations are (if not actually known) easily discovered by a phone call? The higher you go up in the rank the more your reputation effects your employ ability.

SOME Employers use several insurance referral services that they use to weed out frequent litigators, and repetitive injury claimants. It is common to be blackballed if you have sued, or had medical claims.

Maybe you learned that threatening another worker is not only counterproductive, but actually backfires on you.

Erase WHOI from your resume.

One thing to add to cappy208’s post.

If the HR guys are talking on the phone and they know each other, the one that you are applying with hears the whole deal. Of course, it is all ‘off record’, try and prove it…

Best thing to do is find another job that does not require priors, as cappy208 said above, and move along.

Just find a new job any job.

Has something similar to me happen, was fired from one company. Got hired on with at new one because they needed someone right this second. Been there for a year, kept my head low and been a model employee.
I’ve started looking for a new job for some more money and I only get asked about my current job and why I’m looking.
At least in the Oil Field your only as good as your last job.

It’s amazing that you never added the part about trying to cut my throat open… I guess that part of the story doesn’t add any influence to your problem…

[QUOTE=cape cod night;40883]It’s amazing that you never added the part about trying to cut my throat open… I guess that part of the story doesn’t add any influence to your problem…[/QUOTE]

Actually it IS in his post, you just have to read between the lines! Physical threats, the deckhand acting as the sea lawyer, temper, and the ‘cornering’. The post was about how to move on. The advice is to erase Whoey from any further reference.

Maybe the individual has/will learn from his mistakes! It has been known to happen!

What’s actually AMAZING here is that this punk’s only objection to my re-telling of the story is the omission of the EXACT nature of a threat delivered off the ship, off the clock, in the middle of a heated exchange in a local bar. What’s AMAZING is that he does not, nor will he ever, dispute the charges. What’s AMAZING is that a captain, presented with irrefutable evidence of harassment, sat on his hands and let the situation reach a boiling point. But what I still find most amazing of all is that two cowards would openly conspire to bully a female co-worker and, in the end, enabled by a gutless chain of command, cling desperately to some imaginary moral high ground. I appreciate Cappy’s post, but this s—heel knows the score.

One mariner had a hitch with a very difficult captain with a reputation of running crew off. When his turn came, he put on his resume that he went back to school to get the necessary classes for his 500 T Masters, which he did.

It worked out well, as he is now working again, and has his USCG letter of approval to test for 500 T.

If there is a black list I nominate Lynn Gillis. Maybe we mariners should start a list of mariners we would like to never sail with again.

“Back in the day” there was a maritime “black list” known as MIB.
It stood for Marine Index Bureau.

When you signed on the dotted line to run “consumer reports” on the application the first thing the river companies and the coonass navy would do is run your MIB.

You could try covering your turds like a cat in a litter box all day long and it was all for naught.

With MIB they got your work history, your drug and alcohol history, any lost time accidents or illnesses you claimed while on the boat, your credit report, your safety record, any judgments or lawsuits you were involved in as the plaintiff or the defendant, Jones Act claims, and on and on and on.

It would also list whether you quit without notice, were terminated and what for, and whether the company would rehire you or not.

And as someone else mentioned the maritime industry is a small world and getting smaller all the time.

All it took to get the real poop on you was one Port Captain knowing the other Port Captain or HR to HR man going “off record”.

Just like a DAC report for truckers listed too much private information and was in violation of various laws such as HIPPA, The Privacy Act, and so on.

MIB got sued several times and I think a good deal of the lawsuits were “class action” and played out in court with the assistance of the ACLU working Pro Bono to eliminate a true “Black List”.

They won and MIB changed their name to Pretiem Services or some such.
After that I think it morphed into Hire Check.
Every time they changed their name because of another lawsuit more and more information was lost in the system until a “former MIB” report was no more revealing than any other background checking service.

Today “Black Listing” is mostly done between HR people or Port Captains that know each other.

That is not to say that there are not still some pretty stupid “outlaw” companies out there that do not give two shits about the privacy act or anything else including your livelihood or even your life.

If you suspect someone is trash talking you to just anyone that calls I would get a telephone recording device and have your attorney or a friend call the company and ask them about you.

Under the law the only thing the former company is allowed to disclose (after you sign on the dotted line) is your drug and alcohol history, whether you quit or were terminated, and whether they would rehire you or not.

Anything more than that captured on a recording in which the person trash talking identifies him or herself is a wide open door for one hell of a lawsuit if you have the money to retain a private attorney skilled in labor disputes.

My two cents…

Pity the USCG hadn’t made it a requirement to take Leadership and Management before this incident. I’m sure the situation would have been handled much more professionally! (tongue in cheek of course!)

Having experience with hiring people for over 20 years, I can tell you I’ve never come across anything like a blacklist. About the time I started vetting people MIB faded away. No doubt for the reason given by Burnt Salt. It is, in fact, extremely hard to get any information on any former employee of a maritime company. I’ve made the reference calls myself. Rare to have anyone get back to you. Sometimes they do, but it is rare.

So how do non-union maritime employers really choose people? Here’s the inside scoop, boring though it may be. Of course, other people do it other ways. But most professionals I talk to have the same process, more or less. It’s not that juicy. It’s not complicated. By the way, I’ve that found that I need at least 14 applications to pick from to have a reasonable chance of finding one suitable deckhand. That, of course, is in my neck of the woods. Maybe more, maybe less, elsewhere. Out of that pile of 14 you pick a short list of applicants with the most experience. Then you vet them.
Vetting applications comes down to, in order of precedence: application, criminal background check, type of military discharge, interview, psychological survey.

  1. Application: 70% of everything an employer needs to know about an applicant is on the application. Not the resume. The resume is what the applicant wants you to see. The application is what the employer wants to learn.
    After determining if the applicant has experience or not, the next thing the employer looks at is how often the applicant turns over jobs. Most employers want people who are going to stick around. Has the applicant changed jobs every 6-12 months, for the past 15 years? Then that person is a ST: “Serially Terminated”. Kiss of Death. Move on. Nothing to see here…Why hire a person who you know is going to be gone soon? Why can’t they hold a job?
    Employers usually want steady workers FYI: Statistically speaking, most applications are from STs. “SEs“ (Steady-Employeds”) are just that—employed elsewhere. Conversely, when you do come across an application from a heretofore-SE, you sit up and pay attention to that person.
    There are a few other “tells” in an application, nowhere near as important as the ST-thing. Did the applicant skip a lot of boxes on the application form? Maybe left the form half-empty, and just stapled a resume to it? Means the applicant is arrogant, or can’t follow instructions, or is just applying to continue to get unemployment benefits.
    Amusing anecdote/advice: if you are applying for work it’s probably not a good idea to list “Kristallnacht_30…” as your email address (true story). Unless you intend to work in some parts of rural Idaho.

  2. Criminal Background Check: 20% of what an employer needs to know about an applicant is on the Criminal Background Report.
    Let’s face it: the merchant marine used to be rife with people with criminality in their lives. Not so much, anymore. And I believe the industry is much better because of it.
    But there is a social cost to not hiring ex-felons. You can argue it both ways. If employers refuse to hire people with any felony convictions, reformed felons are denied a decent future. (You can also argue that, as far as the rest of society is concerned, the best place for social misfits is safely at sea, where trained professionals (officers) can deal with them).
    From my perspective I don’t want thugs and thieves on my boat. But if someone burgled a car at age 18 and is now 28, without any further criminality, I’ll consider that person for employment. If, however, I see two or more cases of assault, battery, or harassment on the criminal background report I pass that person up. Even one case of harassment means the applicant needs to jump through hoops to prove themselves to me before hiring (usually fails). Maybe such a person is truly trying to reform. But a ship at sea is a pressure cooker and I’m not going to subject my crew to a thug.
    FYI: 1) Bankruptcies mean nothing. 2) A long string of misdemeanors =immaturity. Preferably the applicant can grow up elsewhere.

  3. General or Dishonorable Military Discharge? Red flag. Investigate further. Why such a discharge? Check dates of service. Was the person getting shot at in Vietnam, Gulf, Iraq, Afghanistan? Yes? Then the way I see it, it is my civic duty NOT to hold the negative discharge against the person until I do further digging as to the exact reason for it. Terrific stress brings out the worst in people, and you have to understand what the veteran went through to make a hiring decision.
    But what if the person served stateside for 4 years? Never saw combat. Why the negative discharge, then? Usual three answers: drugs, criminality or immaturity.
    I have hired people with general discharges issued after non-combat service. In every case they were lazy/immature.

  4. Interview: The interview is only about 5-10% of the vetting process. A quality control check. By the time the employer interviews the applicant, the employer knows almost everything he or she needs to know about the person, from the information listed above. From the standpoint of vetting, the purpose of the interview is to verify the person is not lying on the application. That’s why the interviewer goes through the tedious process of asking the applicant all those questions answered on the application. To see if the applicant’s answers matches what was written down. Also to see how the applicant handles stress. Also to see if the applicant interrupts the interviewer repeatedly, while the interviewer is talking (Bad sign. Kiss of Death.) Etc.

  5. Simmons Survey (or something like it): Marginally useful, as are all psychological surveys. That being said, the Simmons survey reveals a person’s personality in detail, with amazing, and often eerie, accuracy.
    Trouble is, different people with different personalities can do the same job different ways and achieve the same result. The majority of Simmons Surveys results I have seen reveal nothing about fitness for the work at hand. But there are enough significant results each year to make the time and expense worth it.
    The idea is that every type of job has a particular set of personality traits many of the best workers in that trade share. If you see that personality type cross your desk you pay attention. But there are other personality types that work out equally well, too, so “positive reports” are not particularly useful.
    The rare negative report is more useful. The report can spot “flaming assholes” (ever sail with one? Not pleasant). It can spot STs, thieves, etc. But the application and criminal background check will have told you all that already about the person. When the Simmons Survey is useful it is because it is a corroboration of info you already have, or a tie-breaker, if you have two identically good applicants

    So that is the art and science of vetting applications. No black list, that I’ve ever seen. Vetting is pretty simple, really. It all starts with a tall stack of applications for that one position, the time to analyze them, and most importantly the opportunity to be choosy. If you’re the person doing the vetting and you are diligent at it you will end up with as good a set of employees as your pay-scale will allow (That last sentence is a whole other post in itself).


Sorry to resurrect a 4 years dead thread, but you seem like the perfect person to ask.
I’m trying to ship AMO for the first time, and the gent I spoke with from the union stressed that in my resume I should emphasize my honorable discharge and previously held security clearance from my time in USCG. I’ve tried not to harp too much on my time on baby boats when I’m asking to sail deep sea, so that’s new to me. Should I also list awards like letters of commendation, good conduct, etc. in like a ‘USCG’ section on my CV or does that come across like you’re bringing up your school science fair for a job at NASA?

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Absolutely mention the fact that you were able to hold a security clearance! Sadly, all too many mariners have backgrounds that would absolutely prohibit them from holding one. The fact that you had one at all makes you a hot commodity, especially if you can hold a TS clearance.

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any opinion on bringing up the other boyscout medals?

like: "while at [vessel name] I recieved [the ribbon that means I never got in trouble bad enough to be written up] and [the ribbon that means when I left the service my management told command ‘yeah he’s a pretty good ol’ boy]. ?

If you have personal awards, then yes.

huh, no kidding. well for once, I did right by intuition, I didn’t mention unit awards. Being USCG, I kinda started looking at LOC, good conduct, etc. as the default, like "yeah, if you hadn’t gotten those I’d be suspicious.

I just saw this. Here’s my reply, short as it is:
I work for a non-union company, and our hiring practices are bound to be different from that of a union, so I can’t answer your question.

Why not find out for yourself, have a friend call WHOI posing as a potential new employer.