MARITIME UNION MOVES TO PUT DIVISION UNDER TRUSTEESHIP

MARITIME UNION MOVES TO PUT DIVISION UNDER TRUSTEESHIP

A large shipboard labor union moved to seize control of its renegade division for licensed marine engineers, and warned steamship lines against honoring the engineers' collective bargaining contracts.

The leaders of District No. 1 of the Marine Engineers Beneficial Association/National Maritime Union Friday voted to put the union's licensed division under trusteeship. The action came two days after the engineers had voted overwhelmingly to pull out of the district and revert back to their independent status before a 1988 merger with the former National Maritime Union.The engineers' vote was deemed "illegal and unacceptable" by C.E. ''Gene" DeFries, president of District No. 1.

In a letter to steamship executives, the officers of the district said, ''As you may be aware, the collective bargaining with your company is the property of District No. 1/MEBA-NMU, which will demand strict compliance with the terms of that contract."

The reorganized licensed division "is not a legally authorized body. . .and is not authorized to act, modify, change, alter or otherwise take action with respect" to those agreements and cannot "refer employees" to steamship lines, the letter said.

Steamship executives were not immediately available Friday to comment on the situation.

"This is another fraudulent attempt by a fraudulent organization to assert authority where it doesn't exist," said Gordon M. Ward, chairman of the

4,500-member licensed division and leader of the insurgent group. District No. 1 has 30,000 members, including the licensed division membership.

Mr. Ward said the members of his union "are prepared to fight for their rights on the docks, in the hiring halls, in the streets and in the courts." On Friday, 25 members of the engineers' group picketed the union's headquarters in Washington, D.C., to protest Mr. DeFries' actions.

The trusteeship charges against Mr. Ward were brought by Louis Parise, executive vice president of the unlicensed division, the old NMU. Alex Cullison, a former official with the engineers division, was appointed to take ''full charge" of the union by Mr. DeFries.

In an interview earlier in the week, before trusteeship was declared, an executive with one U.S.-flag shipping company said District No. 1's claim that it owns the contracts was "surprising."

"There's something wrong with that understanding," said the executive, who requested anonymity. "DeFries has always said he has nothing to do with (the licensed divisions') collective bargaining contracts."