I think that there is a very big difference between real, effective unions, like the longshoremen and the United Auto Workers, Boilermakers, or the International Operating Engineers Union (except Local 25) and the half-ass ineffective tugboat unions, like MMP Inland, SIU inland, Local 5000, Local 25, and the IBU.

I can only think of two possible explanations for why the tugboat unions are so ineffective: they are terrible negotiators; or they are in the employer’s pockets.


Larger non-union companies have Health insurance. Smaller companies often do not. Some seasonal employers provide year round coverage, some do not. The amount the Mariner has to contribute toward a company health plan (pre-tax dollars) varies from nothing to quite a lot.

A young mariner can buy good personal health insurance (with after tax dollars) for about $600 per month ($20 a day). An older Mariner might spend $1800 a month ($60 a day), unless he is 65+ and on Medicare (government provided old age insurance). A 65+ Mariner will probably still spend an extra $150 to $500 a month on supplemental health insurance.

The quality of health plans and what they will cover varies a great deal, as does the time required to obtain pre-approvals from the insurance company for treatment. Many medical treatments are not covered at all. Typically, bariatric surgery, cosmetic surgery, “experimental” treatments (insurance companies call many common and proven treatment “experimental” to avoid paying), dental, eyeglasses, and hearing aids are not covered. Dental insurance, and eyeglass insurance are sometimes available separately, but they are a worthless ripoff.

In summary, the value of union or employer insurance benefits is only $20 to $60 per day, which is not much of a benefit when tugmaster wages are at least $200 a day less than they should be.

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Your post, I can relate to. The plans are all over the charts. I can only comment on the plan I have had over the last two decades or so through AMO Deep Sea Plan. $20 co-pays.,$180 per year eyeglass allowance that can be carried over to the next year for $360, prescription plan that is ok. No Dental.They did not negotiate my wages, the company I was employed at did that between me and them… They payed into AMO for our health plan. For that I was grateful, as I turn 65 soon, I will rely on medicare but AMO will still provide a prescription card. My bride, who is five years younger will still enjoy the benefits I have been provided until she turns 65. It isn’t all about wages(Although very important), it is the total package as I have explained to both sons. One a mariner, one is not. They get it,thankfully.

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Please tell us something we don’t already know.

What is the AMO pension plan like since 2008?

You just can’t do it @SeaEagle can you? :joy:


Have you been in all of these unions?

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I am not union. I like individualism, and succeeding based on talent and effort. That whole seniority for opportunity makes no sense to me. It may work great for others.

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I can’t speak for the towing side of the industry in regards to unions but on the offshore side of things, your seniority gets you only so far. If you wish to be hired and remain hired in a position as a senior officer, you better have some talent and ability. I won’t stick up for unions as a shining city on a hill, but people’s conception of them is a little stilted at times. Particularly the officer’s unions in the U.S. maritime industry. We’re a crewing agency with decent benefits when you get down to it.

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I’d like to know about AMO’s pension fund status too… I left in ‘05 when the McKays were indicted on all those counts under the RICO act for using that as their own personal slush fund.

Decided I’d rather sail non-union than be associated with a bunch of crooks involved in organized crime.

Please let me know what you don’t know and I will try to oblige.
Or should that be, “what you know that you don’t know”.

Problem with the whole “talent and ability” thing is it assumes that people in charge of promotions are able to objectively measure the attributes required to do the job and will select those people . In my experience managers very often prefer and select for promotion not the most technically competent but the people who have learned how to create the appearance.

In my view if the shipping companies drop the whole idea of “talent” and simply weed out the incompetent and promote the rest in turn the overall results will be better than someone actively trying to select “the best”.

That’s how commercial airlines do it in the U.S.


Well I didn’t say “extraordinary talent and ability”. Just “some talent and ability”. :joy:

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I agree that it does take a lot of hard work and ability just to learn the skills etc to just do a competent job. It ain’t easy, not everyone can do it. We both know plenty of people that hit second mate or chief mate level and decided on their own that was as far as they wanted to go.

The problem is the ones that try to bullshit through. They often are successful at getting promoted. I’ve had a couple firsts sail relief chief with me that the boss liked but had lukewarm reviews from when they were 1 A/E. The boss wasn’t too happy when I told him I didn’t want them back.

A captain that believes he has the “talent” to sail a ship through a typhoon or thinks he alone has the “talent” to dock a ship in tight spot in a full gale is not what is wanted. Better in the long run to have a captain that knows he won’t get fired if he tells the company he’s not going to do it.


SeaEagle mentions his sons and this seems to annoy you. This is not the first time you have let this be known on this forum. Apparently he is proud of his children. We should all be so lucky. This forum is not the place for denigrating a proud father in my opinion.


The monies in the plan have improved quite a bit due to new leadership.

You’re right, it’s not. But it is a forum about the maritime industry and related topics. If ole boy’s sons are so great why don’t they join in the conversation?

Perhaps they are busy working and have families that take up their time. Who knows? Drop the sniping. It serves no purpose other than making you appear jealous of having a proud father which I am sure you are not.

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What determines the value and what the day rate ought to be for a tugboat Captain?

Here are a few thoughts:

  1. Length of time away from home,
  2. The license(s) required or preferred,
  3. Local knowledge,
  4. Specific knowledge of the trade,
  5. Good judgment,
  6. The skills to perform the job efficiently,
  7. Good customer relationships,
  8. The ability to manage the crew efficiently without excessive turnover,
  9. The ability to avoid extra costs, broken gear, parted lines, broken pilings, broken ladders, ripped off fenders, dented boats and barges, crew injuries, etc.
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