Membership dues and initiation fees in American Maritime Officers will not increase in 2018.
This was the unanimous determination of the AMO National Executive Board after its annual review of dues and initiation fee rates as required under Article V (Finances) of the AMO National Constitution. The board cited our union's solid financial standing and its positive outlook to support its finding that there is no need to raise dues rates or the initiation fee next year.
As a result, AMO in 2018 will celebrate its fourth consecutive year without a dues hike.
One contributing factor here is the broad, ongoing cost containment strategy in place since January 2015, with significant cuts in everything from payroll to printing - operating expenses have dropped dramatically in the last three years.
Another is the sharp, steady parallel rise in timely dues payments by AMO members and soaring initiation fee receipt rates over the same period, through both direct payment to AMO and authorized dues and initiation fee deductions from benefits received from the AMO Vacation Plan.
Direct payment of membership dues to AMO exceed projections consistently, and the amount paid through the AMO Vacation Plan continues to climb - in November, for example, dues payments forwarded to AMO from the Plan were 46 percent higher than the total recorded in November 2016.
Initiation fee payments straight to the union also surpass projections, but these receipts derived from vacation pay deductions are at an all-time high - up 102 percent in November, compared to the total paid in November a year ago.
Dues and initiation fee transactions through the AMO Vacation Plan are at such a pace that John Macuski, finance director of AMO Plans, was moved to note in his latest report to AMO that the volume "as of the end of November this year exceeds the full year numbers of any of the previous years." Macuski has provided these reports every month for nine years.
A third, increasingly important influence is the recent growth in AMO jobs. Each additional billet results in new operating revenue for our union.
The bottom line: AMO has a six-figure operating budget surplus, nearly seven figures in savings and a high seven figures in investment accounts.
Given this good news, I ask that all deep-sea, Great Lakes and inland waters AMO members and applicants for AMO membership resolve at the New Year to increase - or begin - their participation in the AMO Voluntary Political Action Fund at levels they can be comfortable with. The VPAF represents personal investment in job and benefit security - there isn't a U.S. seafaring job anywhere, in domestic or international markets - that doesn't depend on what Congress does or doesn't do each year. This fund works as intended, and its exclusive purpose is to support federal lawmakers who support the U.S. merchant fleet and American merchant mariners.
Feel free to contact me with questions or comments arising from this report. I can be reached on the headquarters office line at 954-921-2221 (ext. 1001), on the toll-free number at 800-362-0513, or on my cell at 954-881-5651. If I can't take your call immediately, I will get back to you at the earliest opportunity.