AMO, AMO Pension Plan continue to fare well in COVID-19 economy

American Maritime Officers continues to thrive financially in the COVID-19 economy.

The union's operating revenue in July exceeded projections by $173,000, reaching slightly more than $1 million.

Operating expenses exceeded projections as well, but July closed with an operating budget surplus of nearly $129,000. The year-to-date operating budget surplus through July approached $1.5 million. This money is deposited in cash reserve and investment accounts.

Forthcoming budgeted expenses include the relocation of the AMO office in Washington, D.C. and the completion of the data management service transfer from one vendor to another. Each of these projects will result in substantial cost savings in 2021.

The cost of ongoing repair and remediation work resulting from the June 5 fire in the AMO headquarters building will be covered through insurance. While damage from the fire was minimal, flooding from sprinkler systems resulted in significant damage on the building's second and third floors. The building was unoccupied when the fire alarm was activated, and no one was injured.

In what has been a steadily encouraging trend, AMO has secured operating budget surpluses in all but a few months since the second quarter of 2015.

Sound asset management at AMO headquarters and significantly increased on-time payment of dues by deep-sea, Great Lakes and inland waters AMO members have combined to allow AMO to ease the financial obligations of the seagoing AMO membership. AMO today is in its sixth consecutive year without a membership dues increase or a hike in fees charged to applicants for AMO membership, and AMO dues rates remain the lowest among the three U.S. merchant marine officers' unions.

"If you had told me in January we would deal with a pandemic, a dues moratorium in April, an office move in DC, a fire and a transition to employees working from home, I would have thought we would end up with huge deficits," said AMO Controller Thom Heaton. "2020 has been anything but normal, and I am happy to report that the AMO finances are better than they have ever been."

Meanwhile, AMO Plans Finance Director John Macuski reported that the defined benefit AMO Pension Plan was up 8.3 percent as of mid-August and remained in the 2006 Pension Protection Act's "green zone" with a funded status of 85 percent.

The first quarter of 2020 was the worst ever recorded for investment markets, which collapsed upon the COVID-19 outbreak in mid-March. The AMO Pension Plan recovered its losses by May and has remained on the positive side of the investment ledger since then.

As required by the 2006 law, the AMO Pension Plan's actuarial consultants will certify the Plan's funded status to the U.S. Department of Labor by the end of the Plan's fiscal year on September 30, 2020.

Paul Doell
August 18, 2020