Union or non union?

So I have my MMC Twic, and STCW training. Should I go for union like ibu or siu or stick with a private company? I hear very mixed opinions about SIU but dont know much about IBU. I’d like to join one that has the best rep. Id be going in as an OS, since I need the money. Any advice or insight is appreciated.

Where are you located in the country? What type of vessels do you want to work on? What type of waters? Are you planning to hawsepipe and move up the ranks? Are you just looking for a job?

And please, it’s not called STCW training. You must mean basic training. STCW is an international convention, not a class

I am in the midwest willing to move.
I want to move up the ranks, possibly become a mate.
I’d perfer inland waters or ocean. I’m not picky. Not a fan of rivers tbh.
Looking for a new career with adventure with a decent living.

Fuck, I must be completely miserable, sad, lonely and bored for me to even want to answer this shit but here it is.

I am a member of a union and I am a staunch supporter of organized labor, even if just because the fact that A contract between you and your employer is better than no contract at all.
However, maritime unions in the United States have become pretty rotten. You will soon find out that they should pretty much be treated as a means to an end.
Also, want to warn you, most people on this forum will tell you that there are no jobs, no adventure, no prospects, and I have to say, you can find yourself in a position where that statement is either very true or completely false. It is not easy, the adventure can only be found if you have a certain amount of sadomasochistic tendencies in you, don’t expect too much, fuck, don’t expect anything, and be ready to fucking drop on your knees and GRIND. If you consider yourself a possible valuable addition to our numbers, good for you. You will not see decent living until you’ve become a mate, but you will feed yourself and possibly another life form other than a human, like a pet or a lazy woman. You will be nothing and nobody as an OS and it will either humble you or break you.

I know you didn’t ask for this at all, but I couldn’t help myself; I see too many randoms in this field, people who shouldn’t have any business to be on a vessel, making themselves and others miserable. Nobody has time for that shit. Guys on this forum won’t tell you that, it’s been written too many times. They will just tell you to fuck off.

SUP- best of the unions, with its drawbacks. Only west coast. Very hard to start out but once you do, you’re alright. Only contracts with a few companies but they’re decent. You will make money. There are deep rooted problems even within this union, that are now becoming more and more public. This union, sadly, is as good as it gets. It feels like it may sooner or later get swallowed up by the following one:

SIU- a great vehicle to get your sea time quick. Has the most deep sea contracts, due to the fact that they underbid everyone else and give companies nice little handjobs on top of already sweet deals. It also has an inland portion (that I have no clue about). You will also struggle to ship out at first as an OS, but once you do and provided that you don’t vegetate, but learn and work your ass off every single day, you will be on your way. SIU bosses take your money laughing AND fuck you in the ass at the same time. Once you accept this, it is tolerable. Endless amounts of bullshit and lately, endless amounts of random, uneducated, barely literate, unintelligent and lazy people have been joining en masse. I’ve been deeply ashamed and embarrassed by my fellow crew as they roll down the gangway even in third world countries. These people should not represent the deep sea American flag, but it unfortunately has become the case. This union, I predict, will eat up other aforementioned unions and fuck you in the ass hard and deep once more by signing even worse contracts. If you do join, plan to get the fuck out at the first opportunity.

IBU- should stand for inland bully union. It’s another money grabbing scheme and an utter joke of a union, run by uneducated meatheads. No ships, only tugs and ferries, as far as I know. Decent money. The whole thing is based on staunch nepotism. If you go to the hall, prepare to never get out. Im not an expert on tugs and ferries but I am not sure this union is even relevant to you being an OS. They typically want ABs. If you join a company directly and the crew is represented by this union, then you just have to deal with it. Again, all this said, a contract is better than no contract.

There are other options.

That’s my take on it.
I have to tell you- You’ll struggle to find anything as an OS. Shipping is slow and every company and most unions just want to fuck you and discard you.

I would go to school for the “good life”. Anything other than school is just going to make you want to strangle yourself while beating your head against a brick wall in the process.


…forgot to add, a union will definitely be the easiest way to find a job as an OS. Companies without union representation are looking for people with as much experience as possible, unless you somehow luck out and get some “deckhand” job. No adventure there, it’ll just be a job on the water then.
What I don’t understand is how you’re interested in either “inland” or “oceans”. Two completely different beasts. You need to decide. You can’t be aiming for and doing both, just doesn’t make any sense. Each has a different path that leads to it.

Also. You will struggle going deep sea without RFPNW (rating forming part of a navigational watch). Yes, even as an OS. And good luck getting that endorsement :smile:

If tou want to sail and experience adventures you can and will. I am now in Papua New Guinea and we were anchored next to one of their valcanos when it erupted. Will post pictures when I get a chance. Currently at Port Morsey PNG. Lots of WWII history here.

I have had fun duing the past 3 years I have sailed. I am now a AB-Deck. I am currently on emergency loan to my present ship until Jan 2019.

As far as pay, I don’t know what the unions pay but I earn a little over $8k per month when I work. The ship I will be returning to paid a little over $12k per month. It matters what type of ship you sail on and what it does. OS get no respect, get the worst jobs, and paid less for doing some of the same work as ABs.

Bottom line…some of us are having adventures, enjoying our jobs, visting and vacationing in eotic locations, and are paid well. Although I have already past 6 figures in earning this year, Mates do make a lot more. I am happy and content. That is more important than money any day.

Besides, you will not believe my tax liabilities. My god Uncle Sam, give me a break and let me keep at least a dime or two.


OS do not need to already have RFPN to go deep sea. You will need it to become AB-Deck.

Not true. Lots of companies now want to see OSs with RFPNW and maritime unions propagate this. They call this bullshit “special trained ordinary seaman”. Not having RFPNW severely limits ones options, in fact, it makes it almost impossible to get out. It shouldn’t be this way but it is. I assume you work for MSC? Even they now expect it in most cases that I’ve heard of, at least ships with union contracts

Some vessels required to have 6 ABs are allowed to replace two of them with an OS who has RFPNW, “Specially Trained Ordinary Seaman.” See Marine Safety Manual Vol. III, pages B2-2 and B5-2. This has been possible since 1983.


How do you know what most companies want Snusmumriken?

Thank you for the clarification.

There was an SIU contracted MSC ship that sailed into Guam a couple of times a few months ago. A lot of the members hung out at the NEX laundry. They had OSs without RFPNW.

Where are you getting your information Snusmumriken?

God, stop bugging.
Mr Cavo already provided the answer.

Please talk to any union official, whether SIU or SUP.
I know is this is very commonplace, and it’s easy to see why, both from company and SIU perspectives. I’ve talked to union agents about this a while back. The OSs without RFPNW just don’t really have much of chance deep sea nowadays.
I’ve worked for different companies and I’ve seen OSs called up to steer for various reasons (outside of open sea practice) as well.

What I had been wrong about for a long time was what enabled this to be commonplace

SIU inland covers Crowley’s ATBs, I know they need cooks right now it’s north of $400 a day to cook. Utility is $350+(more once you have AB ticket). No need for RFPNW for a utility position. Once you get an AB”tankerman” it’s $507 a day. Plus they just revamped the insurance so it’s decent and not garbage now. The unlicensed make a killing compared to the officers that are in SIU so if you want easy money go wait for a Crowley utility spot in the Houston hall… Plus 2:1 pension days…

The Alaska seafood companies based in Seattle are hiring fish “processors” right now to start in January. There are plenty of jobs. Very hardwork and long hours, rough weather on the Bering Sea in winter. No experience or credentials required. The pay is variable but can be quite good. Most companies require that you attend a job fair in the Seattle area as part of the hiring process. American Seafoods is one of the biggest and best companies. Processing is good experience working at sea for long periods of time, but without any USCG seatime credit. There are plenty of jobs.

If you spend a winter doing this, you prove that you can work hard and cope with being at sea for a couple of months at a time. This would give you a job hunting advantage over other OS with no sea experience.

It’s a sure thing. You can get this job now, to start in January.

Are you trying to get our friend here hooked on meth? That’s harsh :joy:

Plus equal time rotations and paid transportation.

Does the SIU Hall hire for SIU Inland jobs?

I’d heard that Crowley hired its SIU Inland people directly, and that the guys then just had to join SIU Inland?

In other words, I’d heard that SIU Inland works similar to MMP Inland and AMO, I.e., Guys generally have to find their own jobs.

All of Our unlicensed came from the hall once upon a time. Some very recent, typically they stay once they get the job.