Union standoff and bribery accusations spell trouble for Great Lakes operator

AMO members working for the Great Lakes operator, American Steamship Company, have walked off all ASC vessels after a labor contract with the company expired at midnight July 31.  The walkoff has forced ASC to cease operations and from the sounds of it both sides aren’t going to budge any time soon.

AMO National President Tom Bethel criticized ASC in a statement posted to AMO’s website.  “This strike is the result of American Steamship’s Company refusal to negotiate in good faith, or even present a proposal that recognizes the professionalism of the AMO officers and stewards and their value to a company that operates very profitably with AMO onboard its ships” he said.

“When asked for a final offer, ASC presented AMO members with a proposal that would cut 14 jobs arbitrarily, give the company the ability to eliminate a total of 56 jobs, and would fail to fund the medical, retirement and training benefits of AMO officers,” Bethel continued.  He even went as far as accusing ASC representatives of boarding ships and offering captains “an escalating series of bribes.”

Meanwhile, ASC President, David W. Foster, fired back in the company’s own statement, saying “ASC made every effort to engage in constructive negotiations with the AMO, but the AMO refused to participate in this process.”

“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,” Foster added.

We’ll just have to wait and see how negotiations play out, but ASC is already talking about contingency plans for 2012 if it, well, doesn’t.

“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” said ASC’s David Foster.

[Pictured: ASC vessel M/V Buffalo courtesy ASC]