Friday, March 20, 2020
In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the SIU and Seafarers Plans have taken or will take the following steps.
Please keep in mind that – without exception – all of these measures are being done with your safety and well-being at the forefront. Like practically every other organization, we are regularly adjusting and learning new information. Any imperfections in our implementation are honest oversights and will be addressed as soon as reasonably possible.
Additionally, it’s worth remembering that dealing with crises is nothing new for the SIU. Our union’s formative years included World War II. More recently, we stepped up and implemented emergency measures during the Gulf War, on 9-11, etc. We have experience protecting crew safety while helping maintain continuity for our industry, which is vital to America.
Meanwhile, let’s stick together (while observing social distancing), and we’ll get through this.
Effective Monday, March 23, the halls will be closed until further notice. This coincides with a 30-day suspension of routine crew reliefs (more details on reliefs are linked below). However, Seafarers can still reach the halls by phone during regular business hours, and the intent is for members to be able to conduct most if not all of their regular business via phone, email and fax.
Effective Monday, March 23, SIU headquarters will operate with a skeleton crew. No visitors will be allowed to enter the building without an appointment. We intend to continue processing claims, pension checks and vacation applications, but for those Seafarers and retirees not already signed up for direct deposit, this is an opportune time.
The membership assistance department will be open, as will other departments including the communications office. However, please be patient if you’re waiting for a phone call or email to be returned.
April Membership Meetings
Per executive-board action, there will be no April membership meetings.
No decisions have been made concerning the May meetings.
Paul Hall Center/Lundeberg School/Piney Point
The school on March 13 cancelled upcoming classes. Students already at the school and already taking classes have the option of remaining there and finishing. A couple of larger classes as well as some modular ones happen to be wrapping up today (Friday, March 20). So, there will soon be a fairly small number of apprentices and upgraders on campus.
Again, they can choose to stay for their current classes – and they won’t be penalized if they choose to opt out.
As with headquarters, the school is taking extra steps to temporarily encourage telework, practice social distancing, and perform extra sanitation steps.
Members are asked to hold off on applying for courses until further notice.
Adoption of New Guidelines for Shipboard Preventive Actions to Coronavirus Exposure
The union and the companies of the AMA have adopted procedures that are available HERE. As indicated in the document, these steps will be revisited at least weekly and adjusted as needed.
All of these measures are being implemented for your safety and well-being.
SAB Suspends Certain Shipping Rules
The Seafarers Appeals Board adopted this action (click HERE) in order to facilitate many of the aforementioned steps.
Extension of Mariner Credentials
As you may have seen on our website and/or social media accounts, the National Maritime Center on March 19 announced a number of extensions as well as REC closures. The SIU aggressively pushed for these measures. This two-page document is worth the read. Click HERE
If you’re not already signed up for SIU text alerts, please consider joining. Text the word “join” (without the quotation marks, and it’s not case-sensitive) to 97779. We are very judicious in sending texts (we don’t like our phones blowing up, either).
We are adding a prominent COVID-19 element on our home page, so the latest updates are easy to find. We’ll continue posting notices in the News section and on social media as well.
Reminder: If you’re not signed up for direct deposit of pension or vacation checks, please consider logging into your portal and enrolling.
We know you’ll have questions. Please call your union hall or the membership assistance department [(800) 252-4674, option 2)], or email [email protected]