Yesterday, NBC Nightly News interviewed the brave crew members of the Maersk Alabama, who all survived an attack by Somali pirates. They discussed how they managed to capture one of the bandits and bind him up, and they had universal praise for Capt. Richard Phillips, who agreed to be taken hostage to save his crew. One seaman, third engineer John Cronan, directly attributed their ability to prevail in the situation to their union training:
Q: How did you retain control of the ship?
CRONAN: We’re American seamen. We’re union members. We stuck together, and we did our jobs. And that’s how we did it.
As Marcy Wheeler and Nick Baumann have pointed out, the crew members belonged to the Seafarers International Union, the Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association, and the International Organization of Masters, Mates & Pilots. Baumann noted that the seamen received “anti-piracy training” from the unions.
AFL-CIO Maritime Trades Department President Michael Sacco, speaking on behalf of the maritime unions involved, said, “We are extremely proud of the efforts shown by the crew of the Maersk Alabama. These well-trained American merchant mariners exemplify the very best in our industry.”