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Posted: November 20, 2012

AMO employers fail to heed notice

It seems that, since my notice to AMO employers was posted on AMO Currents June 1, 2012, the instances of AMO employers withholding job requests, hiring officers without notice to or approval by AMO, choosing officers by criteria other than their qualifications and denying work to individuals without legitimate cause have actually increased.

AMO officials have a duty and responsibility as elected officials to protect the rights of dues paying members who are registered for work in order to ensure they are given a fair shake at securing employment. We take that duty and responsibility very seriously.

I urge all AMO employers to review my AMO Currents notice of June 1, 2012 once again and to take whatever internal measures you deem necessary to ensure these problems cease in the future.

Tom Bethel
National President

AMO Currents - Posted: June 1, 2012

Employers on notice: act responsibly to defy shortage of officers

The only thing more disturbing than a growing industry-wide shortage of qualified U.S. merchant marine officers and its potential impact on our union is the failure of some American Maritime Officers employers to first acknowledge this shortage and then to address it in responsible ways.

This shortage of officers in traditional trades is driven primarily by the lure of seagoing employment in Gulf of Mexico offshore energy markets, where companies offer generous bonuses and high wages, but where jobs often come and go with the rise or fall of the price of crude oil and other supply-and-demand considerations.

Unfortunately, the crewing personnel, port engineers and port captains of the AMO employers I referred to above overlook or ignore the harmful effect this migratory labor pattern has had on the U.S. licensed seagoing labor pool over the last five years. These individuals appear to believe that there is an infinite number of qualified marine engineers and deck officers standing by for jobs, and they are much too quick to turn down the skilled, dependable men and women referred to them by the AMO dispatch desk.

As national president of American Maritime Officers, I can no longer be patient with these company representatives, and I am putting all AMO employers on notice: it is time to end the practices of withholding job requests, hiring officers without notice to and approval by AMO, choosing officers by criteria other than their qualifications for the jobs at hand and denying work to individuals without legitimate cause. AMO employers do not have the right of selection of junior officers. AMO employers who fail to accept individuals referred by AMO dispatch risk running their fleets shorthanded.

As the U.S. merchant marine officers' union with the greatest number of existing and forthcoming jobs, American Maritime Officers must pay the greatest attention to the steep and growing shortage of U.S. marine engineers and deck officers. We have the people with the licenses, the skills, the endorsements and the experience needed to do any deep-sea, Great Lakes or inland waters job - AMO represents the world's finest licensed seagoing professionals, and quantity is right up there with quality as a distinguishing characteristic of our union.

But any potential crewing crisis could be averted more easily and more effectively - especially during the summer season, when demand for officers is at its peak - if the companies we have under contract would just open their eyes and look objectively at the world in which they operate.

Tom Bethel
National President