Our union and AMO Pension Plan remain financially strong in COVID-19 economy

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American Maritime Officers and the defined benefit AMO Pension Plan remain financially sound and strong as the nation braces for an anticipated autumn surge in COVID-19 infections.

On the union side, AMO had another strong month in September 2020 as operating expenses declined and a key source of revenue rose significantly.

Membership dues payments were down slightly for the month, but increased receipts from initiation fees paid to the union by applicants for AMO membership offset this considerably.

As a result, AMO closed out September with an operating budget surplus of $186,513. This continues a strong and steady trend in our union - nearly every month since mid-2015 has ended in a budget surplus.

Surplus revenue is deposited into cash reserve accounts - which allow our union to plan for known and anticipated capital expenses - and into investment accounts, which exceeded $13.5 million in value as of September 30.

Given the persistent uncertainty driving the catastrophic COVID-19 economy, AMO expects a break-even fourth quarter of 2020, but with a year-end operating budget surplus of over $1 million.

All of this is possible because of a combination of responsible asset management at AMO headquarters and increased payment of on-time dues and initiation fees from within the deep-sea, Great Lakes and inland waters fleets. This joint strategy has resulted in six consecutive years without an increase in membership dues or initiation fees.

I thank all of the AMO seagoing professionals we at headquarters and in the Toledo and Washington, DC offices are privileged to represent for their savvy hand in keeping our union sound, and for furthering our union's reputation for excellence in commercial and defense shipping services.

AMO remains cautious and responsible during this unprecedented and unpredictable crisis. Spending is limited to providing effective and efficient representation, protecting the professional interests of the seagoing AMO membership and keeping AMO headquarters and the offices in Toledo and Washington, DC open.

Increased legal fees account for unanticipated expenses this year, but capital projects completed at AMO headquarters and the relocation of the AMO office in Washington, DC were within budget. Insurance will cover most of the cost of repair and remediation resulting from the June 5 fire at AMO headquarters - the building was closed and unoccupied at the time, and no one was injured.

Meanwhile, the AMO Pension Plan reported at the end of September that, despite several difficult days on Wall Street in late August and in September, the Plan was up 8.7 percent in return on investment. The AMO Pension Plan remains in the federal Pension Protection Act's "green zone," with a funded status of 85 percent.

The AMO Pension Plan marked the end of its fiscal year on September 30, and the Plan's actuaries will certify its funded level with the U.S. Department of Labor as required under federal law.

As always, I welcome your comments, questions and perspectives.

Paul Doell
National President

ISO 9001:2015 Quality Management System - Certificate No. 33975