Posted: July 2, 2008
Moving on with policy agenda after AMO election
By Tom Bethel
The voting American Maritime Officers membership majority spoke by secret ballot in the limited rerun election that ended June 24, and I listened closely to what was said.
The outcome reflected continued confidence in me and in other incumbent AMO officials, and we appreciate the union-wide support we received. The vote also ended all doubt about the legitimacy of my administration, and it validated the policy agenda I had pursued since assuming office in January 2007.
But the numbers also confirmed persistent backlash from controversies linked to individuals no longer associated with our union. A six-year federal investigation of AMO and AMO Plans and the consequent criminal case that ended with the felony convictions of four former AMO officials and one former AMO employee left the unfortunate and inaccurate impression that wrongdoing in AMO was not confined to those identified and punished by the U.S. Departments of Labor and Justice.
We will work to overcome this mistaken notion, and we will earn the trust of those deep-sea, Great Lakes and inland waters AMO members who accepted it. In time, everyone in our union and the outside interests following these developments closely will know the truth.
Meanwhile, we respect the decisions made by AMO members who voted for other candidates. Emotion was certainly a factor in some cases, but we know that most individual choices were driven by what members believed was in the best interest of American Maritime Officers, the largest and strongest union of U.S. merchant marine officers. This election was perhaps the ultimate expression of independent thought and healthy dissenting opinion which my administration has encouraged at every turn over the last 18 months.
We also respect Chris Bartlett, a deep-sea captain who defeated veteran Great Lakes official Dan Smith for the key office of national executive vice president.
Dan logged 35 years of productive service to our union, gaining extensive practical experience at every administrative level. Dan organized engineers, mates and stewards in the steel fleets and in independent companies, manned picket lines, serviced vessels, settled grievances and pursued arbitration, tended to AMO properties and other assets in Toledo, negotiated contracts, advocated U.S.-flagged Great Lakes maritime labor and industry interests in Washington, represented our union in labor-industry coalitions (including the Great Lakes Maritime Task Force) and served locally as the principal representative of the Maritime Trades Department of the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations.
Dan was an important ally to me when I became national president of AMO and began restoring our unions reputation and its credibility. I wish Dan and his family well.
Brother Bartlett will succeed Dan in Toledo, where he will earn a salary and a benefits package commensurate with his position, effective July 1. Chris has a lot of work to do and a lot to learn, but he will have the support of Great Lakes Vice President Don Cree, Great Lakes Assistant Vice President Brian Krus and a dedicated support staff. Chris will have my support and the support of all AMO officials, representatives and employees.
With the election behind us, and with the reasonable expectation of no dispute over the outcome, my administration can continue the work we began in January 2007 to make American Maritime Officers bigger and better than ever.
Our policy program includes:
This program represents job and benefit security for all deep-sea, Great Lakes and inland waters AMO members and their families. It represents greater participatory democracy as our unions governing principle.
But this agenda cannot advance if our union does not. My administration intends to move on, and we want all of the men and women we are honored to represent along for the ride. As always, we welcome your questions, comments and constructive criticisms.