Port Agent Neil Dietz Retires

April 2011

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Longtime SIU Honolulu Port Agent Neil Dietz barely needed a fraction of a second to consider what he’ll miss most as he retires after a 25-year career.


“The members, beyond a doubt,” said Dietz, who retired in late March and immediately started working for Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie as chief negotiator for the state. “We have the most fascinating people in the world in our union. I came to work for the SIU as an outsider, and it takes Seafarers a little while to accept people from the outside.


“But once they trust you and take you into their hearts,” Dietz continued, “you’re their friend forever. It’s a hallmark of this industry that you stay friends with people you may not see for a few years at a time. That’s what I have enjoyed the most and I’m certain what I’ll miss the most.”


Although new to the maritime industry, Dietz was no stranger to organized labor when he came aboard with the SIU in 1986. He had been a rank-and-file member of the Amalgamated Transit Union, and later was elected as a local official and then as president of a central labor council in the Midwest. He started working for the SIU in Seattle and eventually relocated to Honolulu, 15 years ago.


“It has been an exciting time here,” said Dietz, 56.


SIU Executive Vice President Augie Tellez said Dietz “has been a great asset to our union since his very first days in Seattle. I wish him the absolute best of luck and I know he’ll be a tremendous asset to Neil Abercrombie’s administration.”


Reflecting on his time with the union, Dietz credited two late officials for helping him immeasurably: Executive Vice President Joey Sacco and Vice President West Coast George McCartney.


Looking ahead, Dietz said his new role working for the state “will be a real change for me because I’m literally switching sides of the table…. I couldn’t make that change for anybody else other than Neil Abercrombie. He has proven how supportive he is of working people.


“The SIU has taught me how labor and management can work together,” he added. “We may have differences on contractual matters but we can work those out, and I anticipate taking those lessons I’ve learned into a new arena. I owe my future to the SIU and I understand that.”

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Port Agent Neil Dietz

From left to right, Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie and Port Agent Neil Dietz.