American Radio Association, AFL-CIO has been representing seagoing radio operators, Electronic Officers and Master Electronic Officers employed on U.S. flag merchant vessels since the 1930s, when ARA was a local of the predecessor to the Communications Workers of America.
In 1948 the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) issued a separate charter to the ARA as an international union. ARA c...ontinues to be an affiliate of the AFL-CIO and in 2006 ARA affiliated with International Longshore and Warehouse Union as ILWU’s autonomous Electronic and Information Technology affiliate. As communications technology advanced the ARA Technology Institute for Maritime Electronics (ARA TIME) provided training for its members so they could transition from the traditional Morse Code “brass pounder” to skilled marine Electronics Officers.
ARA membership through training and recruitment over the past decade or more have transitioned from primarily communications officers and watch standers under the Safety of Life at Seas Convention (to monitor SOS calls) to skilled electronics officers. ARA members maintain and repair a wide range of technologically advanced equipment aboard modern merchant vessels. In addition to being the primary Operators of the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (“GMDSS”) ARA Master Radio Electronics Officers/Communications and Electronics Officers are trained in computer systems, networking, software maintenance, administration, data communications, the maintenance of integrated navigation and engine control systems, the repair of instrumentation and automation systems and other related duties aboard the ship.