Sailors Settlement Reached

The following was published in the The Ukrainian Weekly

Dear Editor:

Thanks from Ukraine for the help and support provided by The Ukrainian Weekly readers during a desperate situation of this past summer. A team of Ukrainian sailors was stranded in Houston.

On September 20, the stranded group of Ukrainian sailors from the 650-foot cargo ship Epta left Houston and returned to Ukraine. They were deported without any of the six months’ pay that was owed them for the repairs and maintenance they were hired to do on the Epta. The sailors left Houston disheartened to face the grim realities of the mounting debts that their families had incurred while they were stranded in Houston. The U.S. Marshall’s Office had seized the ship and forced the issue into bankruptcy court, and the matter was to go to court in May of 1999.

Sailors Settlement

However, on December 24, a settlement of the case involving the sailors’ wages was reached with the other creditors of the ship Epta. A judge’s order allowed the distribution of the funds for the sailors’ wages (approximately $76,000) to take place immediately. This amount represents only a portion of their back pay, but it will help them repay the tremendous debts their families had acquired in order to survive. It is a happy ending to an unpleasant situation that occurred this summer in the Port of Houston.

The Ukrainian sailors want to thank all the organizations and individuals, both Ukrainian and American, in Houston and beyond, who were instrumental in helping them survive under difficult circumstances. The Sailors’ Fund, organized by the Ukrainian Catholic Church of the Pokrova in Houston, coordinated the collection of money (approximately $30,000), food, clothing and telephone cards while this situation was being resolved. The Ukrainian American Cultural Club and the Ukrainian National Women’s League of Houston also provided valuable help and generous contributions to the Sailors’, Fund.

The Ukrainian sailors were abandoned thousands of miles from home by ruthless ship owners and operators. They were left penniless to fend for themselves. To their rescue came many Ukrainian Americans and their organizations. The Ukrainian American community should be proud of the kindness and generous support it provided to solve this problem for these sailors.

Greg and Nadia Buchai
Sugar Land, Texas

Greg Buchai, a Houston financial adviser, and Schechter, Shaffer & Harris, L.L.P., Accident & Injury Lawyers negotiated a settlement for the sailors.