Recertified Bosuns Speak of Expanded Opportunities


Members Credit Union, School as Gateways to Advancement


September 2012


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Weeks of hard work and training paid off recently when six SIU members took the stage at the Paul Hall Center for Maritime Training and Education (PHC) to graduate from the school’s renowned bosun recertification program.


During their three-week stay at the school’s Piney Point, Md. campus, the bosuns completed sessions covering the Manila Amendments to the STCW Convention, communication skills, safety measures and more. They also participated in meetings at the SIU’s headquarters in Camp Springs, Md., and at the AFL-CIO Maritime Trades Department offices in Washington, D.C.


The PHC’s recertification program provides what is considered the top curriculum available to deck-department Seafarers, and the impact of that training wasn’t lost on the bosuns as they stepped to the podium Aug. 6 to accept their certificates.


Addressing a gathering of fellow members, unlicensed apprentices and union officials, Recertified Bosuns Trevorous Ellison, Timothy Fogg, Richard Gathers, Gerry Gianan, Charles Mull and Joshua Mensah praised both the school and the union for helping them get where they wanted to be in their lives.


Thanks to the union, they said, they have job security. Thanks to the school, they’ll be even better at performing those jobs.


“Had it not been for the SIU, I wouldn’t be here standing before you,” said Gianan, who has sailed out of Wilmington, Calif., since joining the union in 1993. “(The) SIU gave me the opportunity to improve myself and better myself through the various training and upgrading courses here in the Paul Hall Center, which, in return, afforded me better jobs.”


Addressing the trainees, Gianan emphasized the importance of safety and maintaining a positive outlook.


“Learn, adapt and practice to work and function as a team,” he said. “A valuable, efficient and effective team member, that is.”


Ellison, who has sailed out of St. Louis since joining the SIU in 2002, said the course gave him “a better understanding of some subjects or ways to deal with situations on the ship,” adding that he  also had many union and school officials to acknowledge for his career and training.


“It has allowed me to travel and see some nice places,” he said of his various voyages. “I would like to thank the union leadership and the instructors at the school.”


As for the trainees, Ellison’s advice was simple: “When you get out to sea, work hard, carry your load and don’t be afraid to ask questions.”


A 25-year union member sailing out of Jacksonville, Fla., Mull said he upgraded at Piney Point twice before and was eager to learn new things and see new places.


Among the most useful aspects of his training was “having a better overall knowledge of contracts, shipping rules and membership needs,” Mull said. “I would like to thank everyone here at the school and headquarters for all you do every day.”


Mull then addressed the trainees.


“The one thing that will carry you through is good seamanship,” he said. “Be part of the solution, not the problem. It makes things easier on everyone.”


Fellow Floridian Gathers – who has sailed out of Jacksonville since joining the SIU in 1995 – was just as excited to learn new skills and brush up on old ones.


“It’s a good source of information and the teaching was excellent,” he said of the recertification course. “It’s a real honor to be in this union and this recertification class.”


Gathers advised the trainees to make the most of the opportunities provided both on- and off-shore.


“When you’re out to sea don’t be afraid to ask questions,” he said. “And take advantage of every opportunity in the union.”


Fogg said he has upgraded more than a dozen times at the PHC since joining the SIU in 1990, but added he always looks forward to a new trip to Piney Point and the valuable information that comes with it.


“For 22 years I’ve been through Piney Point and each time I’m happy to say I’ve gained a wealth of knowledge,” he said. “I want to thank the union leadership and instructors for everything they do.”


Fogg told the apprentices they are embarking on an important path.


“You are our future and we really hold that in our hearts,” he said. “Please respect and look out for each other.”


Mensah, who’s sailed out of Wilmington since joining the SIU in 1997, said the union – and the accompanying training – helped him carve out a better life for his family.


“Through them I was able to send my wife to school and get a couple of things for myself,” he said. “I would like to thank all of them here. I’ve learned a lot.”


Mensah recommended the trainees take every opportunity to learn and help each other. He also reminded them of how valuable their work skills and job opportunities were during such a tough economic period.


“If you don’t understand anything, ask questions,” he said. “That’s what we are there for – so we can help each other with good seamanship.”


Addressing the audience following the bosuns’ speeches, SIU President Michael Sacco praised the graduates for their eloquence. Their success, he added, exemplified the SIU’s core purpose.


“That’s what this union is all about,” he said. “Educating and upgrading people and making a better life for each and every one of us.”



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