Archie Ware’s first connection with the SIU shows that good things may indeed result from initially undesirable circumstances.
Ware in late October retired from the union after 40 years of service, most recently as an assistant vice president based in Jacksonville, Florida. Had he not been laid off while working for New York City in 1978, though, he may never have landed with the Seafarers.
“I had been making great money,” Ware recalled. “A guy named Earl Butcher (who worked for the union) asked if I wanted to go to sea, and I said no, thank you. But money got tighter and I asked if the offer still stood. He drove to me headquarters in Brooklyn and that was it. I came on board right then and there.”
One could safely say it worked out. Ware, 62, said he enjoyed every part of his SIU career, which included sailing in the deck department (he became a recertified bosun in 1994), working on shore gangs in New York and New Jersey for more than a dozen years, and then serving as an official since 2001.
“I loved it all,” Ware stated. “I loved training, I loved teaching, going to the ships and tugs. I also liked taking photos and sending them to the LOG. The only thing I didn’t like is people complaining about nothing.”
SIU Executive Vice President Augie Tellez said he worked with Ware for decades. “Archie is a true-blue guy – hard working and never shied away from an assignment. He could always be counted on,” Tellez stated.
Recently retired SIU Vice President Government Services Kermett Mangram described Ware as “a workaholic. We’ve been friends a long time; we met at Piney Point, and I (later) recommended that he become a representative, because I thought he’d be good. Bubba – that’s what I call him – is a good dude, and the membership is going to miss him. I wish him well on his retirement. Now, his watch is over.”
SIU Vice President Gulf Coast Dean Corgey noted, “When he came ashore, he trained in Houston and we became very close. He’s a super guy to work with and he became like family. Archie is loyal, dedicated and has an excellent work ethic. He’s meticulous – one of these guys who’s the first to show up in the morning and the last to leave in the evening. Above all, he serviced the members in Jacksonville and really left the port in excellent shape. I wish him the best.”
Assistant Vice President Kris Hopkins worked with Ware for 30 years. “I’ve always had a lot of respect for him,” Hopkins said. “I appreciate his work ethic and we’ve had a great working relationship between Jacksonville and Fort Lauderdale (where Hopkins is based). He’ll certainly be missed.”
SIU Jacksonville Port Agent Ashley Nelson said, “I had the pleasure of meeting Archie back in 2001 while he was teaching union education during my time as an apprentice. Fast forward a few years, and who would have believed he would become my teacher again, but in a different capacity. He’s taught me the ins and outs of being an effective official while I was under his direct supervision here in the Port of Jacksonville. It’s been an honor and pleasure to have him as my mentor and I think I speak for many when I say he’ll be greatly missed.”
Ware said he came shore “because I wanted to help the members. I wanted to see what I could do behind the counter.”
With a chuckle, Ware recalled that the most challenging part of his four decades with the union happened fairly early. “When I got my first bosun job at age 25, I looked like a whippersnapper, so I when I went aboard the ship (the Bonny), people thought I was a wiper or an OS at first. But after that, it was all downhill,” he said.
Now, Ware wants to spend more time with his family. “That’s the only reason I’m retiring,” he said. He plans to remain in Jacksonville but also do some traveling, along with “a lot of fishing and a lot of honey-do.”
Reflecting on his career, Ware noted, “I definitely want to acknowledge Augie Tellez. We met back in the 1980s in Brooklyn, and he’s been supportive the whole time I’ve been with the organization.”
Asked what advice he’d give to current members, Ware replied, “Aboard the vessels, be professional and represent the union in a positive way. By doing that, trust me, the company recognizes it. I’d also tell them to get into the Seafarers 401k. It’ll pay off in the long run.”
He added, “And I would tell our union reps, treat people the way you want to be treated. That’s the best way to sum it up. To members and reps alike, I’d say be a problem-solver.”