Before I tell my story, I just want to say that I am never Happy to see or hear about Anyone taking a pay cut or losing their job.
My career began in N.Y. Harbor in the 70’s and I have seen the Good Times and Lived through the Bad Times. In 1988 when 333 was Locked out (Strike) there were a lot of guys that came up from the Gulf as it was very slow down there. I was put back to work under the Court Ordered Injunction, and as it turned out I was the Only union Member on my Tug. I was told that I would be working under the “Chief” and to keep my mouth shut. The Scab Captain was actually a pretty good guy. He sat me down and told me that he would put up NO B.S. on the boat. He then sat down the rest of the crew and told him the same thing. He was actually harder on his crew than he was on me. He told them that we were there to work and it was up to the courts to decide what the outcome would be and fighting on the boat would do not good.
Unfortunately, most of the other Captains did not feel the same way as he did and went out of their way to try and make me and anyone from the Union to quit! I remember one Captain getting in my face saying that he could not wait for me to quit as he had a whole bunch of guys ready to come north and show Us how things should be done. I remember him saying that he made $170.00. I asked if he knew anyone that would work for $165.00 and he said sure do, the look on his face when I said why do they need you then was priceless!
There was one tour where I was the only Chief as the other guy decided to take some time off after working almost 8 months straight. I was still covered by the Union Contract which was being enforced by the Court Injunction. I did my one week tour and was supposed to get off. The company decided to force me to stay on the boat, after working over for almost 5 days, the Captain said that he was surprised that I was staying and not bitching about getting off, I had called the company for the first day asking for a relief but after that I kept my mouth shut. So, I told the Captain that if the company wanted to pay me OT around the clock I would stay as long as they wanted. I had been on OT since 1400 on the day I was due off. He called the company and asked if this was true, they almost shit themselves when they found out that I was correct. They put me off that afternoon. When I came back I found out that they had idled the Main Engine for the entire week that I was gone because they never put another Engineer onboard.
It really got tiring hearing how much better everyone from the Gulf were and how they would not be happy until they took all of the jobs. When the time came where the companies were tired of paying for double crews on the boats, they started letting people go. You should have heard guys bitching about how they have been there for a year and they should be treated better. I just laughed and said that these companies thought Nothing about laying off guys the well over 20 years so why would they care about you!
I finally got tired of all of the B.S. of the games the company was pulling and left for another company in a different area.
I guess that you can say that all of this left a pretty bad taste in my mouth when it comes from guys from the Oil Patch.
Until the time comes where guys will stop under cutting someone to take a job these companies will continue to play games. I really hope that this down turn in the Oil Patch will not / does not start a bidding war driving everyone’s wages down. As much as people will not like me saying but it is the truth, You have never heard of Guys from the Northeast going to the Gulf and working for less just to take jobs away from those that live there!
I really hope that everyone can stay working but stabbing each other in the back by under cutting wages helps no one except the Companies!