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Unionizing the industry
Posted: Sunday, May 4, 2008 7:43 PM
This is not a new topic, but one that pops up every once in a blue moon.  The first time I heard about unionizing the industry was back in 1985 at an open meeting in the second floor offices at the Sacks Group.  Recently, I have been reading and hearing about unioning the crew in our industry as a way to offer more protection for crew from captains and owners.  I have been on both sides of the fence and as a captain myself, I think it is a bad idea. What are your thoughts?
Posted: Friday, May 9, 2008 3:01 PM
Joined: 07/05/2008
Posts: 4

Generally, the idea has its positives and negatives for all involved. But I think due to the transient nature of crew, unionization would be difficult for all positions except the Captain position, and first mates working their way to Captain. 
Matt Gomez
Posted: Friday, May 16, 2008 2:08 AM
Joined: 02/05/2008
Posts: 1

CaptSeaKiss, thanks for posting this topic in the forum and expanding upon it with your compelling commentary:

Should Yacht Workers Unionize?

Initiative and drive come from the individual. They are fostered by families, friends and, in some cases, unions. But I've found that individuals can find their own way farther and faster when they set their own goals and work to attain them without a so-called safety net.

Posted: Thursday, June 5, 2008 10:56 PM

Owners can always go elsewhere for crew whether it be a new flag of convenienece or an emerging economy. What will we do, picket the Marinas and crew agents? Block owners from leaving their Homes/offices etc, to make our point.

Have we forgotten that although this biz is our career/working holiday/gap year etc, that Yachting represents the recreation / down time of our employers. When their time off becomes a pain they take up new hobbies!

Yacht racing is a good example. In the '80's and early '90's the 'Arms Race' of Grand Prix yacht racing in the form of the 'International Offshore Rule'  so alienated  yacht owners to the point that they got the huff and went home later to appear in the plethora of new 'One Design 'yachts with owner/ driver rules. They got fed up being led by the nose and dictated to by designers/manufacturers and professional crew!

Do you think the vast majority of crew working for the large cruise lines are benefitting from being in a union? Do you know what they get paid/their conditions of service/the likelyhood of promotion as compared to Yachts??

Good attitude/hard work and training/ ambition  = success!


Posted: Sunday, August 3, 2008 4:01 PM
Joined: 03/08/2008
Posts: 5

I don't see major problems with the way it is now. It's not like crew are earning minimum wage and starving.

If it aint broke don't fix it!

Posted: Friday, August 29, 2008 12:03 AM
Joined: 21/05/2008
Posts: 1

 I would have to agree that there would be some good to having a union for the yachting industry, But I do think that it might only benefit those individuals that are either Captains, or Mates with a captain license looking to move up the chain of command. I also agree that forming a union within our industry might have a negative affect also, If we as crew in the industry push owners of yachts for better living standards/ pay/ benefits/ or more down time by using a unions muscle, they might outsorce  to other countries with non us flagged vessels, and crew that will normally work for lower pay onboard from other countries. 
                                                    Captain Goode

Anita Warwick
Posted: Friday, August 29, 2008 1:22 AM
Joined: 15/05/2008
Posts: 44

What sort of union could govern over so many flag states and international laws?
Posted: Sunday, August 31, 2008 9:51 PM

I think the best argument for unionizing the industry is to establish a certain safety code. Unless your boat is over 500 tonnes then there are no minimum requirements for rest. And even for those boats over 500 tonnes, they are still considered "safe" even if the crew have been working 90 hours a week for months at a time. Crew seem to be being pushed to limits of what is humanly possible...especially those boats that run abitious charter schedules. Mark my words, there is going to be a tragic incident where people are injured, some may even die, before the anyone stops to evaluate the safety of yacht working conditions. I think the best way to avoid that scenario would be for captains and crew to organize an agreement in terms of what is considered a safe work-load for crew.

As for all the chatter about standardizing salaries, I think experienced and hard-working crew are paid quite generously in this industry. I wouldn't waste a whole lot of time and energy drafting salary demands, but I would definitely want to see safety concerns addressed by those of us who know just how thin that line has become.

Posted: Tuesday, September 9, 2008 7:21 PM
Isn't it possible for the yachting industry to improve safety regulations without unionizing? Aren't there organizations within the industry that would agree that a well-trained, well-rested crew is safer and more efficient?

I don't think we need a union to mandate this. Maybe it's better to just have a few organizations agree that safety is in the best interests of crew and guests.

Posted: Wednesday, September 10, 2008 1:58 AM
Joined: 02/06/2008
Posts: 342

"Do you know what they get paid/their conditions of service/the likelyhood of promotion as compared to Yachts??"

More to the point, do you know what they got paid/their conditions of service/the likelyhood of promotion compared to the days before they had union representation?

Comparing their working conditions and remuneration to that of yacht work smacks of "let them eat cake."

Seamens' unions were among the first labor organizations for very good reasons. You can thank them for most of the protection you enjoy today.

Posted: Wednesday, September 10, 2008 2:03 AM
Joined: 02/06/2008
Posts: 342

"What sort of union could govern over so many flag states and international laws?"

The International Transport Worker's Federation (ITF) does an excellent job of defending the rights of seamen under all flags. They are behind many of the IMO initiatives to change the most odious and dangerous practices of shipowners all over the world.

Posted: Wednesday, September 17, 2008 3:15 PM
Joined: 17/09/2008
Posts: 1

Unions are not the way ahead, for many of the reasons already noted. However the Yachting industry is already represented by the PYA. This non profit organization, run by Yacht persons on a volunteer basis, has for many years tried to support/ promote Yacht crew in the best possible way. However they are becoming a victim of their own success in that more and more professional bodies are requesting their input. If more crew supported the PYA financially, more could be done to support crew. The council is run by Captains/mates/ and persons closely involved in the industry. However they are all normally gainfully employed, and therefore find it difficult to devote as much time as one would like. So although financial aid in the form of membership is one way to support them, active participation would also be a great help!
Posted: Friday, September 19, 2008 11:00 PM
Joined: 19/09/2008
Posts: 4

I agree..... One of the reasons I love this industry is the freedom we have from the "normality" of land life...... Who is going to run this union?? Who is going to pay them ? And besides it is an international industry, totally unlike any other industry...So leave it alone.
Capt. Rob
Posted: Thursday, September 25, 2008 8:45 PM
Joined: 04/09/2008
Posts: 5

Unionization would be a huge waste of time.

No support here.

 Average 4 out of 5