U.S. Maritime Industry Rallies to Prevent Larger Cuts to Food Aid

N.Y. Native ‘Devoted His Entire Life to the Labor Movement’

Seafarers Log, May 2011

Back to Issue

Frank PecquexFrank Pecquex, executive secretary-treasurer for the Maritime Trades Department (MTD) and longtime SIU employee, has announced his retirement after decades of service to workers in the maritime industry. Pecquex has held his position since 1993 and has worked with the MTD (a constitutional department of the AFL-CIO) and the SIU since the late 1960s.


“Frank devoted his entire life to the labor movement,” said SIU President Michael Sacco, who is also the MTD president. “He developed better implementation of MTD policy through state federations, port councils, and the AFL-CIO at large. He’s had a long and truly distinguished career with both the SIU and the MTD. We owe him a lot. Frank will be sorely missed and I wish him the very best in his retirement.”


Pecquex, a New York native, began his life in the labor movement as a Greyhound ticket-taker at the World’s Fair grounds in 1964. He joined the Amalgamated Transit Union that year. He also worked at an A&P bakery during his teenage years and was a member of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union. Pecquex went on to graduate from St. John’s University in Queens, N.Y. with a master’s degree in history.


His career with the SIU began in October 1967 at the then-headquarters building in Brooklyn, N.Y. It was there that he met his wife, Linda, a secretary for former SIU President Paul Hall. They married in 1973.


He started his career as a researcher, then moved on to administrative work, and then to organizing. Pecquex also worked in the manpower department, where he formulated a plan to encourage and facilitate continuing education and upgrading for Seafarers. Under Pecquex’s plan, Seafarers with sufficient sea-time were now able to upgrade and to sail in different departments. In addition, many others were encouraged and able to get their General Equivalency Diploma (GED) at the Paul Hall Center (then known as the Seafarers Harry Lundeberg School) in Piney Point, Md.


In 1980, Pecquex was asked to join the SIU and MTD legislative teams in Washington, D.C., where he worked on boosting awareness and spreading the message of the importance of the U.S.-flag fleet. In 1985, Pecquex was named legislative director of the MTD, in addition to holding the same position at the SIU. In 1991, he was promoted again, this time as the MTD administrator. Two years later, Pecquex was named to the executive secretary-treasurer’s office, where he remained until this year.


“In retrospect, I’m amazed that at whatever level I toiled over the years, the union’s leadership had a singular purpose: to protect and expand its members’ job security,” said Pecquex. “Whether promoting vocational training courses, lobbying the White House and the Congress, or developing a strong partnership with military leaders, the SIU was second to none in advancing the message that the American maritime industry, in all of its component parts, remains vital to the nation’s economic health and strategic security.”


Pecquex is credited with revamping the MTD and bringing its operations into a new, progressive age. In addition to strengthening the MTD’s internal relations, such as increased communication and collective action between the port councils and affiliates, Pecquex also helped amplify the MTD’s profile within the AFL-CIO as well as on Capitol Hill.


“Under Frank’s guidance, the MTD has not only grown significantly in membership but also on the political level,” said Michel Desjardins, president of the Seafarers International Union of Canada and a member of the MTD Executive Board. “Governors, members of Congress, and others trust and support Frank’s ideas. He is a force to be reckoned with.”


Pecquex was also behind the transition of communications mediums from print-based to web based. This type of ingenuity is one of many examples of Pecquex’s contributions to the progress of the labor movement, the maritime industry, and its workers, according to those who worked most closely with him. Pecquex noted that things have changed throughout the years in the political realm for America’s maritime industry, but that the future remains bright.


“Over the last two decades, things have changed significantly,” he observed. “Few legislators have military experience and, thus, have little personal connection to the industry’s logistical role in providing materiel for American troops deployed around the world. Today, the domestic industry has developed a strong relationship with those who understand the need for a viable U.S.-flag merchant fleet: America’s military leaders. Working hand-in-hand with the armed forces logistics commands, we have successfully advanced support within the White House and Congress for essential maritime operations, like the Maritime Security Program.”


Pecquex is succeeded as executive secretary-treasurer by Daniel Duncan, a longtime SIU and MTD employee in his own right. Duncan had this to say about his predecessor: “Frank is truly one of those wonderful people you get to meet in the union movement. He is a wealth of information about labor and the maritime industry. I have had the honor of knowing him and working with him starting in 1989 when I was transferred to SIU headquarters. He was the union’s legislative director and I got to watch him fight for our members in the halls of Congress when I was working for the LOG. After coming to the MTD in 2000, I got to know him better by working with him daily.”


Duncan continued, “He is known and respected within the maritime industry – not just in Washington, but throughout the country. Frank is a Seafarer through-and-through, and he has a heart bigger than any thousand-footer we crew on the Lakes. In becoming the new MTD executive secretary-treasurer, I know I won’t replace Frank. I just hope to live up to his ideals.”


Coming as no surprise to those who know him, Pecquex plans to keep busy. He wants to pursue his interest in photography and anticipates adding to his collection of vinyl records.


“I also plan on traveling with Linda, my wife of 37 years, and spoiling my granddaughters, Katherine and Victoria,” said Pecquex.

Share |