In Memoriam: Seafarers International Union President Emeritus Mike Sacco


Seafarers International Union President Emeritus Michael Sacco passed away on Dec. 28, 2023 in St. Louis, surrounded by his family. He was 86 years old and passed away from natural causes.

Brother Sacco was the longest-serving president in Seafarers (SIU) history, having led the organization from 1988 until his retirement in February 2023, a period spanning nearly 35 years.

“Mike’s leadership at the Seafarers International Union benefited generations of merchant mariners and all working people,” AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler said in an article announcing Sacco’s retirement in March 2023. “Mike led his union with integrity and a fighting spirit that he learned as a rank-and-file member.”

SIU President David Heindel described Sacco in the same article as “an inspiration to members and officials alike.”

Sacco served as president of the SIU’s Atlantic, Gulf, Lakes and Inland Waters (AGLIW) for nearly 35 years, beginning in June 1988. He also worked as president of both the Seafarers International Union of North America (a federation of autonomous unions that includes the SIU AGLIW) and the Maritime Trades Department (MTD) throughout the same period.

In November 1991, at its 19th Biennial Constitutional Convention, Sacco was elected a vice president of the AFL-CIO, the federation of 60 national and international unions representing more than 14 million workers in the United States. He eventually became the senior vice president of the AFL-CIO Executive Council as its longest-serving member.

A protege of the late SIU President Paul Hall, Sacco from 1980 to 1988 directed the SIU AGLIW’s Great Lakes and Inland Waters division as vice president. Based in St. Louis, he served as secretary- treasurer of the Greater St. Louis Area and Vicinity Port Council (an MTDchartered organization) and as an executive board member of the Missouri State AFL-CIO. Sacco also was vice president of the Seafarers Harry Lundeberg School of Seamanship from 1968 to 1979. The school, located on the grounds of the Paul Hall Center for Maritime Training and Education in Piney Point, Md., prepares men and women for a career aboard U.S.- flag commercial vessels and provides upgrading opportunities to active members.

He became associated with the SIU in 1958 and shipped aboard U.S.-flag merchant vessels until he came ashore during the 1960s to serve the SIU in a succession of union posts, including those of patrolman, port agent and headquarters representative.

A native of Brooklyn, New York, Sacco served in the U.S. Air Force from 1954 to 1958.

In Lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Tony Sacco Memorial Scholarship Fund, Charleston Port & Seafarers Society or St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.


Visitation – Friday, Jan. 5, 2024, Kutis Funeral Home 5255 Lemay Ferry St. Louis, MO. 63129 from 3 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Funeral Mass – Saturday, Jan. 6, 2024, at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church 4556 Telegraph Rd. St. Louis, MO 63129 at 11:00 a.m.

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