Charlie Stewart, a longtime official with the National Maritime Union (NMU), passed away Aug. 26 at his home in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He was 84.
Stewart joined the NMU in in 1959, sailing in all three departments aboard tankers, freighters and passenger vessels. He became involved in all phases of union activity.
Stewart worked as a patrolman in New York, Miami and Port Arthur, Texas, and was assistant to the vice president of government operations. He was one of the first U.S.-based International Transport Workers’ Federation inspectors. Additionally, he served as branch agent in Houston.
He was elected vice president of the NMU and was assigned to contract enforcement. Stewart still served in that post when the NMU merged into the SIU in 2001. At that time, he became an SIU vice president at large – a position he maintained until his retirement in early 2009.
SIU Executive Vice President Augie Tellez and SIU Secretary-Treasurer David Heindel both worked with Stewart during the merger proceedings.
“We all worked well together in order to make sure both memberships were protected and no one got hurt as we merged seniority,” Tellez recalled. “Charlie helped make sure the transition was seamless and effective.”
Heindel stated, “Charlie and I became pretty close during the merger talks and after. He was a sailors’ sailor. Everyone had deep respect for him, and he was known as a straight shooter.”
SIU Vice President Government Services Kate Hunt, who in 1980 became the first female patrolman in NMU history, said, “For all my struggles with the hierarchy of the NMU, Charlie was a good guy with me and a good union official. He was truly well-liked by the NMU membership, and he’ll be missed.”
Stewart was a native of Jamaica. Survivors include his wife, Nyoka Gene Ford.