A Winning Team
Although I am new to the office of president, the SIU – along with my family – has been the focal point of my entire adult life, as many of you know. I started sailing as a teenager, eventually came ashore to work for the union, and am grateful to have enjoyed the membership’s support which allowed me to remain part of this great organization for nearly 50 years.
Following in the footsteps of Mike Sacco is no easy task. However many accolades Mike receives for his 35 years at the helm as our president and his lifetime of service, he deserves all of those and more. He’s truly one of a kind and he did a fantastic job.
Longtime Seafarers know what Mike has meant not just to us but to the broader U.S.- flag industry. In particular for those of you who are new to the SIU, be sure to take the time to read the tributes about Mike in this issue of the LOG and in last month’s edition. They’re worth your time and they’ll help give you some appreciation for his work. It’s no overstatement to say that Mike stabilized the industry. He came in at a difficult time and began turning things around right away, even though it wasn’t easy. Those of us who worked for Mike know that he was tough but fair. He demanded results, but he was reasonable.
Mike’s charisma and energy are readily apparent to anyone who’s met him. He always made himself available to talk with Seafarers. Something else that has always stood out to me is his foresight. His vision and determination were the foundations of so many key developments for the SIU, from being the industry’s spokesperson for the Maritime Security Program to updating our hiring halls to merging with the NMU to constantly modernizing Piney Point and so much more.
While Mike and I have different styles, his policies will continue in my administration. Mike designed a winning model and put together a winning team. I’m not about to fix something that isn’t broken. At the same time, I of course will bring my own vision and my own approach to the office. And don’t think for a minute that I’m too proud to call Mike if I need advice. He is the ultimate lifeline, and I’m grateful to know he’s available.
Throughout my entire time with the SIU, I’ve always believed that the first priority of every official should be supporting the rank-and-file members. You have my pledge that I will continue doing so to the best of my ability – and we will get the job done. We will stay on our toes and we’ll win the battles so that Seafarers can continue working on American-flag vessels.
Many of you know about our current challenges. Manpower is at the top of that list, and of course that’s not just for our union or our industry but for so many different occupations around the world. We are formally recruiting all over the country, but word of mouth is still effective. Please keep an eye out for the next generation of prospective members. Bring them to the halls and show them what we’re all about.
Something else we’ve been working on is new job opportunities in the wind-energy sector. This may sound like a far-off development but it’s actually here now. I think this sector will be vital for us moving forward, and that’s why we’ve been involved and we’ll remain involved.
Brothers and sisters, I am grateful for the opportunity to lead our union, but I also know that it’ll continue to be a team effort. We are, as always, stronger together, and at the same time I will work day and night to keep the SIU strong.