This Month In SIU History

January 2010

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Reprinted from past issues of the Seafarers LOG

The Recruiting and Manning Organization, a division of the War Shipping Administration, guaranteed the SIU that all steamship companies having contracts with the SIU have been directed to secure all personnel through the hiring halls of the union. Craig S. Swenson, regional representative of the organization, told the SIU by letter that they would call the union halls for unlicensed personnel and he assured the SIU that his organization would not try to go around the union hall but would do everything they could to assist the union in recruitment of manpower.

The SIU Atlantic and Gulf District became the first seamen’s union to negotiate a company-financed welfare plan for its members. This was established in an agreement signed with nine contracted steamship companies. Although the companies will make all the contributions to the welfare fund, the agreement provides for joint administration by a committee representing the union and the steamship companies. Under the terms of the contract, each company will contribute into a common fund the sum of 25 cents per day for each man employed aboard its vessels.

The first of three projected upgrading schools for Seafarers is now operating at Headquarters with the opening of a class for the deck department. The purpose of the new program is the qualification of men for their AB certificates and other deck ratings. Plans are also being made for the starting of both steward department and engine department classes in the near future. Instructors are being drawn from the ranks of experienced Seafarers with a thorough familiarity of the subject matter for the courses.

Harry Lundeberg, the founder of the SIU and the leading figure in maritime for over two decades, died of a heart attack on Monday, January 28. It was Lundeberg who led the revival of maritime unions in the U.S., beginning with the bitter 1934 strike. From there he pressed ahead relentlessly, battling shipowners, the government and the maritime section of the Communist Party on behalf of the men he represented. Paying tribute to Lundeberg on behalf of the SIU, Atlantic and Gulf District, Secretary-Treasurer Paul Hall characterized his contribution to maritime unionism in these words: “Andrew Furuseth’s great contribution to seamen was the 1915 Seamen’s Act. Lundeberg’s was his leadership in winning the greatest economic benefits seamen have enjoyed anywhere and anytime. Under Lundeberg the union set the pace for the entire industry.”

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