For hardworking members of the Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association (M.E.B.A.), the reflagging of a vessel to U.S. registry by the New York-based commercial shipping company, Liberty Maritime Corp/Liberty Global Logistics (Liberty), should be a happy occasion. It should mean good jobs and wages for members of America’s oldest maritime labor union.
But thanks to a contract violation by Liberty, that isn’t the case. M.E.B.A. members are now engaging in an informational picket against the company regarding its newest vessel, Liberty Peace, and TTD stands with them.
Under the labor agreement between M.E.B.A. and Liberty, vessels operated under the U.S. flag by Liberty fall under the exclusive jurisdiction of M.E.B.A. This has been both parties’ established practice for nearly thirty years – and the union and the company followed that practice earlier this year when Liberty introduced another U.S. flag vessel to its fleet.
Yet, despite the parties’ decades-long collective bargaining relationship, Liberty decided to disregard its obligations to M.E.B.A. and crew the Liberty Peace with licensed deck and engineering officers who are not M.E.B.A. union members.
In addition to its refusal to abide by its labor agreement with M.E.B.A. regarding the Liberty Peace, Liberty Maritime has made matters worse by refusing to bargain in good faith over a current contract reopener covering Liberty’s vessels with M.E.B.A.
For decades, strong union representation has served M.E.B.A. members and the company well, enabling Liberty to carry out its mission by having access to a highly trained, experienced, and well-qualified workforce. Violating M.E.B.A.’s collective bargaining agreement not only damages the working relationship between M.E.B.A. and Liberty, but disrespects the loyal union members who have worked to maintain Liberty as a viable vessel operator. This behavior is counterproductive to growing our nation’s maritime sector.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time Liberty Maritime has violated its contract with M.E.B.A. In 2011, the company crewed five of its vessels with non-M.E.B.A. union officers during the term of the contract. Citing the contract between Liberty and M.E.B.A., an arbitrator sided with M.E.B.A., and a supplemental award of damages is expected in the near future.
TTD calls on Liberty Maritime to right these wrongs, adhere to the agreed upon terms and conditions of its collective bargaining agreement with M.E.B.A., and crew the Liberty Peace with the licensed deck and engineering officers of M.E.B.A.