Liberty Maritime Changes Union Affiliation

Friday, October 07, 2011

MEBA accuses operator of creating labor dispute and delaying important cargoes. AMO enters into new collective bargaining agreement with Liberty.

 

On Monday, Liberty Maritime Corporation announced that it had entered into a new collective bargaining agreement with the American Maritime Officers (AMO) union under which the AMO will provide U.S. citizen licensed deck officers and engineers to Liberty Maritime for the operation of five U.S.-flag dry bulk carriers effective October 1, 2011. Previously subject to a collective bargaining agreement with Marine Engineers Beneficial Association, District No. 1-PCD (MEBA), that contract expired on September 30, 2011. According to a prepared Liberty statement, MEBA will continue to provide deck officers and engineers on the three U.S. flag Pure Car/Truck Carrier vessels (PCTCs) operated by Liberty pursuant to a separate collective bargaining agreement between Liberty Maritime and the MEBA. But, the change in manning agreements to the bulk vessels leaves Liberty at odds with MEBA, which claims that Liberty did not act in good faith.

 

Philip Shapiro, President and CEO of Liberty Maritime, said in a prepared statement, “We worked many months with the MEBA to try to reach a new agreement, and as late as three days before the prior agreement was due to expire, the MEBA called to say the Union was not interested in our proposal. Although we are saddened that we could not work out a mutually beneficial arrangement with the MEBA, we remain proud of our long and productive relationship with the Union and salute the professionalism of its members.”

 

MEBA, however, countered with their version of what happened. “M.E.B.A. listened to Liberty and took all their economic and government affairs arguments into consideration. We agreed that now is not the time for a labor dispute and accepted Liberty’s final economic proposal,” said M.E.B.A. President Mike Jewell from the picket line in Louisiana. "When we conveyed this acceptance to Liberty the silence on the other end of the phone from CEO Philip Shapiro was deafening. We later learned that Liberty had signed a contract with the AMO.”

 

Thomas Keenan, Executive Vice President of Marine Operations for Liberty, echoed Shapiro’s comments, adding, “Contrary to what MEBA has publicly asserted, we offered increases in wages and in contributions to MEBA’s defined contribution retirement plan in exchange for freezing their defined benefit retirement plan. We remain convinced that their members would have been better off under our proposal than the Union’s proposal. For the record, at no time has Liberty Maritime ever sought to “lock out” MEBA members. We proposed pay increases, but in the end, we did not reach agreement because we simply could not bridge our economic and other differences prior to the expiration of the existing contract.” Keenan added that the transition to AMO union affiliation and ship’s officers has been smooth. Nevertheless, a MEBA press release claims that some of the ships were experiencing problems.

 

MEBA officials, in an e-mailed release, told Marinelink this week that “Members of the Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association (M.E.B.A.) union began peacefully protesting on Saturday, October 1 at 12:01 a.m. after Liberty locked them out. Since the company’s inception, M.E.B.A. engineers and deck officers have operated Liberty’s vessels and transported humanitarian and important cargo to third world countries in need of assistance.”

 

MEBA further contends that the dispute started over contract negotiations that began several months ago. Beyond this, says MEBA’s prepared statement, “Despite months of negotiations and the fact that the MEBA agreed in principle to the terms of a new contract, Liberty signed a collective bargaining agreement with the American Maritime Officers (AMO) union. As soon as the M.E.B.A. employees were locked out from the ships, picket lines were set-up at the ports of Galveston and Beaumont in Texas and New Orleans, LA, where the Liberty bulk cargo carriers were docked. Members of the AMO crossed the picket line and boarded the ships that M.E.B.A. members had exclusively manned for 23 years.”

 

Mr. William G. Miossi, labor counsel to Liberty Maritime, sees it differently. “The MEBA represented officers are supervisors and, as such, they are not covered by the National Labor Relations Act. Although Liberty Maritime had no legal obligation to bargain with this Union upon expiration of their contract, we nevertheless negotiated with the MEBA in a sincere effort to reach new terms.” He continued, “It is our view that the MEBA’s picketing of Liberty Maritime operated vessels and other actions violate federal labor law.” Meanwhile, Liberty says that they have filed appropriate Unfair Labor Practice Charges against the MEBA with the National Labor Relations Board.

 

For its part, MEBA officials contend that their officers have for years worked aboard Liberty vessels supporting humanitarian efforts and U.S. economic and national security goals by carrying important agriculture cargo. And, they allege that cargoes may now fall behind delivery schedules because the current crews had trouble starting the main engines on the ships docked in Louisiana and Texas. According to MEBA itself, there was no timetable for how long the picketing of Liberty’s ships would continue. In a prepared statement, they said, “…members in Texas and Louisiana are prepared to keep protesting in order to highlight this injustice.”


People & Company News

MN100: R.W. Fernstrum & Company

The Company: R.W. Fernstrum & Company set the standard in marine heat exchangers over 65 years ago, building a reputation focused on innovation. Today, its commitment is to continual improvement,

MN100: McDonough Marine Service

The Company: Bernard P. McDonough created the company in 1945 by leasing barges from his construction company into the marketplace. Through a series of new and used barge additions,

MN100: MarineCFO

The Company: Founded in 1992, UA Business Solutions was a pioneer in the field of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and an early Microsoft Partner. The ERP evolution

Contracts

Weak Freight Rates push Grindrod to H1 loss

Africa's biggest shipping group Grindrod reported a first-half loss on Thursday, pressured by low global growth and declining dry bulk shipping rates but it expects

J.F. Lehman Acquires Oldenburg's Heavy Equipment Group

J.F. Lehman & Company (JFLCO) informs it has signed a definitive agreement with Oldenburg Group Incorporated to acquire its Heavy Equipment Group, including both its defense and mining business units.

New Crane Orders for Huisman

Huisman has secured new crane contracts with a total value of around 300 million Euro from various major offshore, shipping and wind farm installation contractors: •

Legal

El Faro Captain Ordered Crew to Abandon Ship before Sinking

The captain of the doomed El Faro cargo ship sounded an alarm for his crew to abandon the vessel shortly before it sank last fall in a hurricane near the Bahamas, killing all 33 onboard, the U.

Foreship Establishes Tallinn Subsidiary

Naval architect and marine engineering company Foreship has created a wholly-owned subsidiary located in Tallinn to strengthen ties with shipowners, shipyards and

UASC's Dismal Performance

United Arab Shipping Company (UASC), which is close to merging with Hapag-Lloyd, revealed enormous deficits and a massive debt in its key financial figures, says Alphaliner.

Finance

China COSCO Falls to H1 Net Loss

China COSCO Holdings Co Ltd fell to a first-half loss hurt by a persistent slump in the global container market, the world's fourth largest container shipper said on Thursday.

Weak Freight Rates push Grindrod to H1 loss

Africa's biggest shipping group Grindrod reported a first-half loss on Thursday, pressured by low global growth and declining dry bulk shipping rates but it expects

Cosco Eyes Spanish port of Algeciras

Algeciras Bay Port Authority in southern Spain has put up a tender for its third container terminal, and China's Cosco Shipping Ports is already being mentioned as a fore runner candidate,

News

Iran Vessels Make 'High Speed Intercept' of US Ship

Four of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) vessels "harassed" a U.S. warship on Tuesday near the Strait of Hormuz, a U.S. defense official said, amid

Shots Fired: US Navy Ship Warns Iranian Vessel

A U.S. Navy ship fired warning shots after an Iranian fast-attack craft approached two U.S. ships in the northern Gulf on Wednesday, a U.S. Defense official said.

Liftboat Jinshan 1 Delivered

A 97.5m truss-legged liftboat designed by A. K. Suda (SUDA) has been completed and is being delivered to its owner, following on the heels of a 91.5m truss leg liftboat delivered earlier this year.

 
 
Maritime Careers / Shipboard Positions Maritime Contracts Maritime Security Maritime Standards Naval Architecture Navigation Offshore Oil Pod Propulsion Port Authority Ship Repair
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | contributors | top maritime news | about us | copyright | maritime magazines
maritime security news | shipbuilding news | maritime industry | shipping news | maritime reporting | workboats news | ship design | maritime business

Time taken: 0.1542 sec (6 req/sec)