Michael Sacco, longtime SIU president and labor leader, passes away

Michael Sacco with American Maritime Officers National President Paul Doell and Maritime Trades Department and Seafarers International Union President David Heindel at the MTD, AFL-CIO, Executive Board meeting in February.

Seafarers International Union President Emeritus Michael Sacco died Dec. 28 in St. Louis, surrounded by family members. He was 86 years old and passed away from natural causes.

Mike was the longest-serving president in SIU history, having led the organization from 1988 until his retirement in February 2023 (a period spanning nearly 35 years). Mike was succeeded by longtime ally David Heindel.

“Mike was truly a once in a lifetime presence in the Labor Movement, dedicating 65 years of his life to supporting the U.S. and Canadian Maritime workforce. For 35 of those years, he served as President of both the Maritime Trades Department, AFL-CIO and his home union, the Seafarers International Union of North America,” Heindel said in a statement released by the Maritime Trades Department.

“President Sacco shrewdly navigated the MTD through so many decisive points over the course of his career that listing them all seems nearly impossible. Now more than ever, his wisdom and clarity of judgment serve as an inspiration to us all.”

Mike’s passing could also be felt in the halls of American Maritime Officers, where he would often attend executive board and trustee meetings and inspire AMO board members as well as rank-and-file to continue to remain loyal to the labor movement.

“Mike was nothing but good to American Maritime Officers during his many years as President of the SIU, as President of the AFL-CIO Maritime Trades Department and as a Senior Vice President of the AFL-CIO,” AMO National President Paul Doell said. “We extend our deepest sympathies to Mike’s family and to Dave Heindel, (SIU Executive Vice President) Augie Tellez and the maritime labor community.”

Memorial services have not been set.