2023 Engineer to Switch to AMO from MEBA

I’m a fresh 3AE and have only shipped out once with MEBA. I don’t enjoy going to the hall as it’s 4 hours away from me and I want to live wherever. Would it be dumb to switch to AMO? I like working deep sea, Alaska somewhat interests me and if I stay in the industry long I’ll probably end up on the great lakes. I’m also currently waiting on starting with MSC but they’re taking forever and it looks like they pay effectively half of what I got on my last MEBA contract. I’d also like to be able to get off the boat in port (asking too much I’m sure). Any suggestions? Thanks

AMO just came to an agreement with MEBA to take jobs they can’t fill. I would ask your current patrolman what the details are about that and go from there. If you don’t like going to the hall then AMO would be the way to go.


  1. AMO doesn’t have a real pension, MEBA has a really good pension.

  2. AMO doesn’t use seniority when bidding on jobs, MEBA does. Right now is a good time to get in with MEBA and get your seniority built up so next time work is tight you have better chances at getting work. AMO might be all permanent jobs but when things slow down ships get stacked and if you wind up needing to find another job you’re fighting against everyone else on an equal footing.

Not a great move to leave MEBA.

What was your last job?

If you are thinking about MSC you really should call Patriot and get on the Watson class ships. There is required training that can all be completed at Calhoun. You will most likely end up with a permanent job after one trip and not have to wait in the hall for work. You will build your book and move up fast if you perform well.

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What’s the average pay at MEBA nowadays?

That sounds perfect and pretty much confirms what I already thought. I’m still learning all my options out there and hadn’t even thought of that. Have a great day.

I don’t know what the average is but Keystone paid me nearly $900 a day with 4 hours OT, ammo pay, etc as a watchstanding 3AE. No complaints there.

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You probably should switch to AMO as soon as possible.

Why? Based on your questions you are obviously too low info to be in MEBA .


It varies depending on the contract and ship. Go to the hall, open the contract binder and see for yourself.

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Hey Johnny, are those the words you really intended to use? “too low info”?

Had or Has?

The hall is ideal for those who live nearby. That said, if you can make it work and you plan on sticking with the industry I don’t think it would be a bad deal at this point in time. When I graduated it wasn’t even an option for me, I couldn’t afford to sit in the hall for as long as some of my fellow grads had to before they got their first ship. I think that’s something that’s frequently lost on the MEBA crowd.

The pension is something to keep in mind. I do think that MEBA has a good gig going and I hope that it keeps up. There were certainly a lot of guys who got screwed when AMO’s plan got into trouble. That said, really look at what the sailing requirements are for MEBA’s pension. A full year’s credit requires 240 days of sailing per year. An even time work schedule is 182 days of sailing a year. That might be doable for someone coming into the union now, it certainly wasn’t when I was looking into it, there just weren’t the jobs then. Another thing to keep in mind is where the pension keeps its money, it’s not always as stable as everyone would like to think. It wouldn’t be a bad idea, even with the pension, to have a plan B just in case plan A fails. Pensions have failed in the past and they’re going to fail in the future.

Most AMO contracts are on a flat day rate, no OT. This can be another point of contention between the unions. Personally, the flat day rate makes it easy to know how much you’re going to make over a trip. Your OT can’t be cut as punishment or as a company cost saving measure. I’ve also worked a lot more 8-10 hour days than I have 12 hour days. That’s not to say that there isn’t an occasional shmucking, but overall I’ve been able to get my work done without having to go bell to bell.

AMO dispatching is done over the phone or off of their web portal. It can sometimes happen directly between the sailor and company, though that’s not as common for junior positions. I will say that there has been a much larger push for transparency regarding the contracts and wages, while not quite on par with MEBA, are catching up. There are also no mandatory contributions from your vacation pay back to the union.

If you’re looking for “fun” work I’d be out of the unions entirely and working on UNOLS boats. The pay sucks but they tend to have a lot more fun, it’s waaaay more laid back and they’re usually in port for longer periods as the science teams get rotated out. They also do some neat stuff. My wife worked research boats for a while and got port time all over the South Pacific, South America and Asia. And the port stays went straight into a work rotation where one person had the duty for the day, those that didn’t have duty would work for a couple of hours and then hit the town.

MSC… I just don’t know that I can recommend that. I’ve worked with guys who have come from MSC to the commercial side and they really struggled with the workload and responsibilities. I don’t think that it’s a good job if you want to have a life off the ship. I did have a friend who spent about a decade on one of the hospital ships but it was very much groundhog day and he averaged two months off per year. He did get to go to some neat places, I’m not sure that many of the other MSC ships would have the same port opportunities.

The recent AMO-MEBA agreement has been a bit of a surprise to members on both sides of the fence. I know that there have been discussions between the leadership of both unions in the past and, honestly, I think that the main hurdles are going to be parsing the retirement plans and dispatching and I don’t see any way of doing that without upsetting members on both sides.

Doesn’t that include vacation days though?



No, 240 pension days. Vacation days count towards the pension.


Gotcha, thanks for the correction. Is the vacation benefit the same across all contracts or is it different for each?

It’s different for each, but it’s at least 20/30 I would guess. So a 90 day tour would get you 150 days of pension credit.

Regarding pension credit, you can also convert OT into vacation.

So let’s say your daily rate is $250 and your hourly OT rate is $50. You can convert 5 hours of OT into one day of vacation which is a ‘day of covered employment’ towards that 240/year needed for a full pension year.

Days at the school and doing night/day work also count towards days of covered employment.

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I have. It looks like pay hinges on OT/PT. So average pay could vary a lot depending on ship, schedule, assholes cutting otherwise routine OT/PT. So I’m asking, in people’s average experience, what is the average pay like at MEBA?

Do companies/captains/chiefs cut OT/PT as punishment or to save money or to break in their knee pads?

Why are so many MEBA folks so secretive about their contracts which they also claim are so open for everybody to see?

Sometimes it feels like a cult. “No I can’t tell you, come see for yourself”. “No I can’t tell you, you’ll have to figure it out once you get to your ship”. “Just take a job, see what happens”. “Good contract? Of course it’s a good contract, you can take it right now if you want”.

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Look on job board
Pick up contract for the listed job
Do the math based on Projected OT.
Ask more specific questions if you want specific answers.
You didn’t ask about a specific contract or position

MEBA contracts generally pay good with excellent healthcare and benefits.

Yes. And I will use them again…

You are also low info. Perhaps, refrain from speaking about topics you are absolutely clueless on.

A full pension year credit is 240 covered employment days. The credit is also pro-rated…meaning, you still get something if you don’t make 240 covered employment days. It is very possible, (perhaps even-super-common-lots-of-people-do-this) to get 240 days of covered employment by sailing 90-100 days a year.

You can become less low info by reading the summary plan description…or not, cause internet forum: Overview

Most decent contracts are 30/30 for senior officers and between 26-28 for jr officers. “not good” contracts are probably going to be 15-25.

But back to my original point…if somebody is too lazy to go to hall and read information on the internet, they probably should just phone it in to AMO…yeah, literally phone it in for your job.

It kinda is an exclusive club. But, you can easily join it by going to a hall! Oh wait, I forgot…going to hall too hard, because reasons.

Catch up and read the rest of the thread, I’d already been corrected. Then again, we’ve already established that you suck at words so there’s that…

Also, we’ve already established that it’s not all about laziness. Not all of us had the benefit of having money to be able to afford to go sit in the hall for six months upon graduation at a time when shipping was slow, scrounging for nighthawk jobs at a time where they were being snapped up by those with more seniority. It’s cool that you had that opportunity and I’m glad it worked out for you. I didn’t.

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This thread isn’t about you or how hard it was to get a job with MEBA when you were trying (and I know your pain, I experienced it as well).

Instead, this discussion is about today. Go to a MEBA hall and get a job. Because this is an amazing time in history with tremendous opportunity for a new sailor.