This Month in SIU History

March 2010

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Reprinted from past issues of the Seafarers LOG

Early in the morning on February 26, the SIU-contracted freighter S.S. Cassimir was
rammed by the S.S. Lara off the coast of North Carolina and sank rapidly, taking her six SIU members and the chief mate.

The same week the S.S. Raritan struck a shoal at Frying Pan Shoals about 1 a.m. Fortunately the entire crew was picked up by a U.S. Coast Guard vessel and landed at Oak Island, then was given transportation back to New York. During this same week, the S.S. Marore was attacked about midnight by three German submarines. Even though she was torpedoed and hit by more than 100 shells, the entire crew escaped in lifeboats. One of the boats rigged a sail and made port at Cape Hatteras. The other two boats, containing 25 men, were spotted by a Navy plane which directed a ship to their rescue.

Effective March 15, the Recruitment and Manning Organization of the War Shipping Administration formulated new shipping rules governing the amount of time a seaman would be allowed to stay ashore between voyages.

The rules provided that for any voyage of less than three full weeks, a seaman could only stay ashore four days. For a voyage of 15 full weeks or more, a seaman could stay ashore no longer than 30 days. In the event a seaman violated his shore leave, the RMO would notify his draft board that the seaman was no longer an active seaman and he would be subject to induction.

The war risk bonuses and the $10,000 life insurance for areas adjoining China, Korea and South Siberia were extended for six months until Sept. 30, 1951, the date the union’s contracts expire. This is the third time the bonuses were extended through negotiations since the Maritime War Emergency Board was dissolved last year. War risk coverage includes, besides insurance, a 100 percent bonus for sailing within any of the five areas adjoining the countries, $100 attack bonus and $2.50 a day for sailing in certain other somewhat less dangerous areas.

Testimony began this week to discuss a plan introduced by U.S. Rep. Herbert C. Bonner (D-N.C.) to set up special machinery to deal with maritime labor disputes with the ultimate goal of enforcing mandatory arbitration in all shipping disputes. The AFL-CIO Maritime Trades Department, on behalf of the SIU, its affiliates and other maritime unions, will make a full presentation of the opposition side of the bill before the congressional committee.

If enacted, the proposal would rob maritime unions of collective bargaining and the right to strike for better wages and working conditions.

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