Six Stewards Ascend to Apex of Culinary Hierarchy


May 2013


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Six Seafarers reached the top of their respective careers in the steward department recently when they graduated from the steward recertification course at the union-affiliated Paul Hall Center for Maritime Training and Education (PHC) in Piney Point, Md.


In recognition of their ascent to the summit of the culinary hierarchy, each received certificates April 8 during the union’s membership at the PHC. The graduates—Stewards Shirley Bellamy, John Greubel, Cleto Lindong, Karl Meyer, Sean Richard and Anthony Jacobson—also addressed union officials, fellow upgraders, trainees and guests who attended the meeting.


Collectively, they expressed their gratitude for the opportunities they have been afforded to enhance their skills, improve their lives and those of their families, and become better shipmates to their brothers and sisters aboard SIU-contracted vessels. In addition, each thanked the union leadership for its continued support, and the PHC vocational and hotel staffs for their excellent instruction and accommodations, respectively. Finally, they acknowledged a host of other individuals who played key roles in their successes.


Shirley Bellamy

Bellamy was the first to take the podium. She sails out of the Port of Jacksonville and is a native of Federalsburg, Md. Prior to joining the union, she worked in cosmetology. She has upgraded on several previous occasions at the PHC.


Bellamy told the audience she has been sailing since 1997 and that her transition to the maritime industry from her previous line of work was both challenging and rewarding.


“I’ve always wanted to see the world,” she said. “I dreamed about visiting places such as Africa, Japan, Greece, Spain and the Middle East. All of that has become a reality thanks to the SIU and the wonderful career it has given me.”


As a result of the recertification training, Bellamy said, she gained a broader awareness of sanitation. In addition, she became more aware of the behind-the-scenes workings of the union. “I’ll now be better able to answer questions about the union for my shipmates and point them in the right directions when they encounter problems,” she said.


Bellamy told the trainees the school represents a tremendous opportunity for them. “I encourage each of you to take advantage of everything the Paul Hall Center has to offer,” she said. “You are the future of the SIU and your endurance will pay off.


“Once you to go to sea, pay attention, keep a positive attitude and always work hard,” she said in closing. “It’s also important that you be professional and always strive to do your best.”


Sean Richard

Richard was next to address the audience. He ships out of the Port of New Orleans and has been an SIU member for 21 years. A frequent upgrader, he has attended the PHC on four previous occasions.


“Each time I attended this school, I learned more and more to enhance my skills,” he said. “And this time was no different.”


In addition to areas covered by the recertification curriculum such as sanitation, safety, and first aid, Richard was excited about the knowledge he acquired about the union. “I improved my management skills and gained important insights on how the union actually operates,” he said. “I was also given a firsthand look at how hard our union leaders work to protect and keep our jobs and maintain our benefits.


“My career with the SIU gave me the opportunity to travel the world, work, meet some wonderful people, and earn some good money in the process,” he said. “I must say that I would not trade it for anything in the world.”


Richard advised the trainees to “not focus on how much money you will make, instead focus on how much you can save. When you go to sea, respect your shipmates regardless of their race, religion or gender. When on a ship crossing the ocean, we must all depend on and work with each other. We are one big family.


“In the area of job performance, be sure that you’re on time for work,” Richard continued. “Be productive, practice safety first and always follow orders given to you from your immediate supervisor.


“Finally, look, listen and learn” he concluded. “Upgrade often and contribute to SPAD.”


Cleto Lindong

Lindong hails from the Philippines and signed on with the union in 2001. He sails out of the Port of Wilmington.


“This recertification program was very educational,” he told those in attendance. “It provided me with further insight into the inner workings of this great organization. I learned a great deal about how it is managed and run.”


Lindong said his life as a seafarer started years ago when he was sailing aboard foreign-flag vessels. “Had it not been for the SIU, I wouldn’t be standing before you today,” he said. “The union gave me the opportunity to improve and better myself through various training and upgrading courses here at the Paul Hall Center.


“That enabled me to me get better jobs,” he continued. “Now I am here, proud and happy to have achieved my goal of graduating from this recertification program.


“I consider you as a core part of the SIU,” Lindong told the trainees. “Study hard and learn as much as you can because in doing so you are laying a positive foundation for your future. Always keep a positive outlook on your job, pay attention to your mentors and learn to adapt and work together as a team.”


Anthony Jacobson

“The past three weeks have been an eye-opening experience for me,” said Jacobson, who is home-ported in Wilmington. He first donned the union colors in 1993.


A native of Chicago, Jacobson told the audience that during their training, he and his classmates “were afforded the opportunity to see the inner workings of this great organization. I always knew that a number of things were done behind the scenes on behalf of the union membership, but I had no idea about the extent to which our leadership went to accomplish them.


“For example, I learned all about what our union officials and affiliated organizations such as the MTD do to help keep us all working,” he continued. “And that’s where our SPAD contributions come in.” He urged everyone to contribute to SPAD generously and often.


Reflecting on his career, Jacobson said he sat in the PHC auditorium in 1993 as a trainee in Lifeboat Class 513. “That was my first union meeting and I never imagined that 20 years later I’d be up here on this stage receiving this honor,” he said. “I have been all over the world, worked on some really great ships and made quite a few friends over the years.


“Learn all you can while you are here,” Jacobson told the trainees. “When you go out on the ships, keep an open mind and be teachable. Remember, a number of our brothers and sisters on the ships have been doing this for a long time; they just may know a thing or two about shipping and shipboard life, so take advantage of our knowledge and experience.”


He ended his remarks by encouraging the trainees to come back to the school as often as they could to upgrade their skills. “This school has earned a place in my heart over the years,” he said. “Where else in the world could we get such an education at so little personal cost and then go out and use the skills we learned to make more money?


“But it is not free,” he concluded. “It is our responsibility to go out there and represent the union and what it stands for by working hard and doing a good job.”


John Greubel

Greubel sails out of the Port of Jacksonville. Born in St. Louis, he has been a proud member of the SIU since 1999.


After congratulating his fellow classmates for their accomplishments and wishing them well in their careers, Greubel told those present that completing his recertification training was a real honor and that he would always remember his graduation day.


“In 1980 when I finished my three-year apprenticeship at St. Louis Community College, I decided to move to Las Vegas with my culinary degree and get a good job there, maybe work in a hotel/casino or a restaurant,” he said. “Well, I did this for 18 years, but could never save any money.


“I finally got fed up with Las Vegas and a guy who worked for me told me that I could make some good money on oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico,” he continued. “I tried it but didn’t like it much. It was a non-union job and they played a lot of favorites there.”


Then one day Greubel noticed an ad for cruise ship jobs and decided to apply, mainly because it was located in Hawaii and he had never been there before. “After completing my mandatory training here at the school for getting the job, I left for the ship, did my required time and headed out to sea.”


Greubel said he has returned to the PHC on three previous occasions to enhance his skills and “each time I have learned more and landed better jobs. They provided me with the skills I needed for these jobs, especially with computers,” he said.


The recertification course continued the enhancement of his skills, he said. “It taught me more about how the union works, especially regarding contracts, shipping rules, the political process and the importance of SPAD. I also sharpened my leadership skills, gained a better understanding of our benefits, pension and 401K plans. I will carry all of this knowledge back to my ship and share it with all of my shipmates. Hopefully, I can answer their questions and help clear up any misconceptions they may have about how the union works.”


Greubel encouraged the trainees to use the union’s pension and 401K plans or a combination of both to start saving. “You’ll be surprised how much you can save by just putting a small amount into it every week. Start early and you will have more than you need when it’s time to retire.


“This union has done so much for me,” he concluded. “It’s not just about money and travel, but also about friendships and experiences that I will never forget.”


Karl Meyer

Philadelphia native Karl Meyer joined the SIU in 1993, but began sailing a year earlier aboard the cruise ship SS Independence. He currently sails out of the Port of Guam.


“My first job was cleaning ash trays and emptying garbage cans,” he recalled. “From that time on, the sea and the SIU became an inseparable part of my life.”


Meyer told members of the audience that in cooking, stewards use the term “Mise en place,” which means to put in place. “It’s not just about having your ingredients together before proceeding with a recipe; it’s about having your life together as well. These principles have guided me throughout my career.”


Reflecting on his recertification training, Meyer said, “The last three weeks have opened my eyes once again. The program was very well rounded and included safety training, BST renewal, as well as sanitation and nutrition which is ever so important in our industry.” He said he especially enjoyed the tours to SIU Headquarters, the Maritime Trades Department and the AFL-CIO in Washington, D.C.


“If you’re just going about your job while sailing the seas, you really don’t realize what’s going on behind the scenes,” he said. “This is why I came away from my training with a new appreciation of how the union works and how important it is for all of us to support our leadership. I learned what President (Mike) Sacco and other union officials do on a daily basis for us.


“They work tirelessly on our behalf to protect our jobs, benefits and the American shipping industry as a whole,” he said. “That’s why it’s important now more than ever for everyone to support SPAD. Our donations give our leadership the capital they need to fight for our interests by educating and supporting our friends in Congress.”


Addressing the trainees—especially those who are preparing to enter Phase II of their training—Meyer said, “You are the future of this industry. Keep your eyes and ears open, ask questions and learn from your shipmates.”


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