About Us

Based out of Cleveland, Ohio, United Steelworkers Local 5000 (often just called Local 5') represents over three hundred members who are the unlicensed crew aboard nineteen Great Lakes freighters, employed by Central Marine Logistics, The Interlake Steamship Company, and Key Lakes Inc. (Great Lakes Fleet). We have one land-based unit with twenty members who service the steel industry employed by Sisco. 

The founding of USW Local 5000 - Great Lakes Seamen was an event produced by two seperate converging streams in the history of Great Lakes labor. The inability of such organizations as the National Maritime Union and the Marine Engineers Beneficial Association to successfully counterbalance the efforts of the United States Steel Corporation and the Lake Carrier's Association to continue operations of lake fleets with open shop labor practices was a characteristic of confrontations between labor and management throughout the first half of the twentieth century. In contrast, the United Steelworkers of America had enjoyed more success in organizing union representation for iron miners and steelworkers. 

With an ability to obtain leverage in disputes with US Steel and LCA that other organizations lacked, the United Steelworkers of America began its organizing campaign in 1951. Strikes could be coordinated for unlicensed crew members of lake fleets along with sympathy strikes by miners and steelworkers to shut down both US Steel and LCA fleet operations.

The United Steelworkers of America became the parent organization for the Great Lakes Seamen's Union and Local 5000 was founded during 1951 in Cleveland, Ohio. With this new and vigorous Local in the city where LCA maintained its headquarters, the Great Lakes Seamen began negotiating contracts with the threat of widespread industry-wide strikes to back their position. The Jones and Laughlin Steel Corporation was the first LCA member to negotiate a contract with the new union. US Steel remained the major target for new contract agreements because of its dominant position among lake fleets and its control over LCA.

By 1956 the development of negotiated contracts with other LCA members and the steelworkers' strike of that summer brought US Steel to the bargaining table. In September 1956 US Steel began negotiations with the Marine Engineers Beneficial Association. Contracts with other maritime unions including the Great Lakes Seamen followed. Eventually, major players in the Great Lakes Maritime industry such as Bethlehem Steel Corporation, USS Great Lakes Fleet, Wisconsin Steel Company, Cleveland-Cliffs Iron Company, Oglebay Norton/Columbia Transportation Division, Hanna Mining Company, Inland Steel, and Interlake Steamship Company were brought to the bargaining table, establishing USW Local 5000 as a significant labor union on the Great Lakes. 

The significance of the role that Local 5000 came to play in labor relations for Great Lakes Maritime crews can be examined through a contrast between the sense of isolation many unlicensed crew members felt in the pre-World War II era in signing contracts to work in open shop fleets and the advice given in the newsletter The Great Lakes Sailor that stated in boldface: "WHEN IN DOUBT, ALWAYS FILE A GRIEVANCE."

Today, United Steelworkers Local 5000 represents nearly 300 unlicensed mariners across three fleets in the Interlake Steamship, Central Marine Logistics, and Key Lakes Inc. company fleets. We invite you to explore our website to learn more about what we do and who we are, and encourage you to contact us for more information. 

Representing Workers From...

Central Marine LogisticsHiltiInterlake SteamshipKey Lakes, Inc.


Vice President
Financial Secretary
Recording Secretary
Business Agent