I've since made a few changes but the main idea is still the same. What I'm trying to do now is put together some scenario ideas based on the hints in the story - so far I've got one based on finding fugitives, two about smuggling, one about the patrol's primary mission (preventing war), and one about something that isn't in the story.
What I don't have is anything convincing based on the union opposition to automated spaceships thing. I've never been very good at union politics, and I don't know very much about the US unions though I've read up a little on the AFL, CIO, Teamsters etc.
The obvious plot is the ship being "blacked" by unions who refuse to refuel it etc., but I'd prefer something a bit more subtle. On the automation front, I really DON'T want to go the HAL 9000 route.