A prestigious maritime organization recently saluted the outstanding career of the SIU’s top official.
SIU President Michael Sacco on April 8 received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Marine Society of the City of New York for his years of dedication to the U.S. Merchant Marine. Marine Society President Capt. Tim Ferrie described Sacco’s accomplishments as “second to none.”
The yearly event took place in New York City.
In part, the award itself cited Sacco’s “distinguished service in the field of labor relations representing merchant mariners, industrial and government workers over a 50-year career…. Michael Sacco is a tireless supporter of Seafarers and their families, advocating for improved medical, education and retirement benefits…. Michael has given selflessly to benefit the merchant mariner through the years, quietly and without fanfare, as becomes a seafarer.”
The framed certificate also noted some of the numerous gains that have occurred both within the SIU and at its affiliated school in Piney Point, Maryland, thanks to Sacco’s leadership.
Capt. Robert Johnston, retired Overseas Shipholding Group executive, introduced Sacco and pointed out they have known each other for nearly 40 years.
“Mike has led the SIU to new heights in jobs and benefit plans and is the unquestioned heavyweight of maritime labor,” Johnston said. “Mike works and fights hard for his sailors – for their jobs, their working conditions, their benefits, their pensions. Don’t ever get in the way of Mike fighting for his sailors.”
Addressing the crowd of more than 200, Sacco stated, “My hat is off both to the Marine Society of New York and to Snug Harbor, which I know is a separate but closely aligned organization. Snug Harbor in particular has done so much great work to help retired mariners, including a lot of our old NMU retirees. And the Marine Society has helped people throughout our industry, largely through providing educational opportunities.
“In that way, my union has a lot in common with you,” he continued. “We put a premium on training and education, because nothing is more important to the rank-and-file member. I’m sure the crew of the Green Lake would tell you that they couldn’t have saved those people without their safety training, much of it provided by union-affiliated schools. In fact, I’m proud to point out that every single SIU member on that ship when the rescue took place has trained at our school in Maryland.” (Editor’s note: The SIU-crewed Green Lake also was honored by the Marine Society for a rescue its crew executed Dec. 31, 2018, as extensively reported HERE and in the February Seafarers LOG.)
He added, “I’m proud to have spent my life in this industry. The U.S. Merchant Marine is vital to America’s national, economic and homeland security. Who wouldn’t be excited to be part of it? And I’m grateful to have found a home with the SIU many years ago. Our union has been a source of good, family-wage jobs almost since our founding in 1938. We deliver the goods for our country, for our troops when needed, and for our own members.”
Sacco concluded, “You’ve given me a lifetime achievement award – and my lifetime of experience tells me that we’ve still got many great days ahead in the American maritime industry. I can see it in the new members joining the SIU. I can see it in the new vessels being built in union yards across the country. We have tremendous potential for growth in the international trade, and we’ve got solid, bipartisan support on the domestic side as well. Our future is bright as long as we’re willing to work for it. And I can tell you for sure, the SIU is willing to work for it.”