DULUTH, MN - American Steamship Company (ASC), a subsidiary of GATX Corporation announced its employees who are members of the American Maritime Officers union (AMO) went on strike following the expiration of the AMO labor contract on August 1.
The AMO agreement covered the licensed crew members employed aboard ASC's vessels, including one in Duluth's harbor.
Several of the AMO union members are striking in Duluth from the ship "American Spirit", where replacement workers have already started to arrive. About 140 in all are striking around the Great Lakes.
Fourteen of 17 vessels were in operation at the time of the strike and put on a temporary work stoppage.
David W. Foster, president of ASC, said, "ASC made every effort to engage in constructive negotiations with the AMO, but the AMO refused to participate in this process. As a result, the existing AMO contract expired and ASC has temporarily ceased operations.
AMO union president Tom Bethel said the contract dispute is over reducing up to 59 officer positions, and retiree pensions and medical care. He says AMO is not asking for any more with ASC than it has approved with other shipping companies.
Bethel doesn't expect the company will be able to replace all the workers.
""Their plans are to try to hire replacement workers to man all 14 of those vessels. We don't feel that's possible in any way for them to do that and as long as our officers remain solid behind the union, we don't think they'll be able to do that and they'll be forced to basically come up with a proposal and meet our demands," said Bethel.
"Our goal has been to reach a fair and equitable agreement with our licensed crew members that allows ASC to become more competitive on the Great Lakes. While this remains our goal, we will enact our contingent operating plan and make every effort to serve our customers as effectively as possible."
AMO union officers must continue working if their ship is anchored in the Great Lakes until proper replacements come aboard.
There are no talks between AMO and ASC planned at this time.
Foster concluded, "If the labor situation continues unresolved, we will work towards being able to operate our full contingent of vessels in 2012 with other qualified crew members."
Posted to Web by Jena Pike