ATC Union Vote

The MEBA has been a hot topic on the forum lately. Since there is an ATC Union vote for the deck officers coming up soon, I figured that since I am a Group 1 MEBA Mate and also on the Pass-Through agreement with MMP I have a unique perspective on both unions.

I personally believe MEBA is a better union for ATC Officers and here is why

  1. Better pension and easier to obtain.

I have sailed with MEBA senior officers in their late 40s talking about retirement or starting a second career. On the flip side I have sailed with MMP senior officers nearing 67 who can’t retire because they don’t have enough time for a full pension. Come to find out not all MMP companies pay into their pension and the MMP pension is based on years of service and age which takes way longer to obtain despite its payout being a lot lower. Every MEBA Deck contract counts towards pension time and does not factor in age only credit years. The officers in or nearing their 60s with the MEBA I have sailed with, are choosing to sail whether it is for their daughter’s college tuition etc. but nonetheless they could retire with a pension if they wanted to.

  1. OSG will never sign on to the MMP pension plan

The MMP pension is underfunded and OSG would never sign on to an underfunded pension plan. So ATC would most likely not get a pension if they went with MMP. The MEBA pension is fully funded and OSG is already a signatory to it.

  1. Group 1 MEBA is better than A Book MMP

ATC mates should be aware that MMP has barriers for taking permanent jobs. For some jobs with MMP your book seniority means nothing because you might need a company specific class that is only offered at MITAGs. With MEBA there are no company specific classes you have to take. If you want a permanent Chief Mate job with Maersk and there is an opening, you can take it that day and keep if for as long as you want. MMP you might be restricted to a relief hitch or not be able to take it at all despite having an A Book because you don’t have the company specific class. At MEBA you aren’t forced to take two weeks out of your vacation to go take a company specific class to take a job. On another note MEBA also doesn’t force mates to take a union indoctrination class and a union bridge simulation class for membership like MMP does.

  1. Smaller tighter knit community of Deck Officers

MEBA is a smaller group within MEBA and is honestly the best kept secret in the US Maritime Industry. I have never had to wait more than a day in a hall besides one time when a ship was delayed due to a COVID scare. I also never had to “compete” for a job either which is shocking but true. Its most likely because MEBA mates tend to be more honest and transparent. For example, when an applicant 3rd mate asked me about a job I told him when it was being called but also called and texted around to make sure no one else with a higher group card was going to take it. I didn’t want him to waste his time spending money going to a hall just to get beat out for it. You’ll be hard pressed to find the same treatment from MMP mates but you can’t blame them for obviously are trying to protect their best jobs for their friends especially when there is way more competition in their union and the divide between good and bad jobs is significant. ATC mates should also know that there are cliques within the MMP. Meanwhile MEBA mates are more or less just one clique. I also don’t know many MEBA mates that live near a hall but this is probably because there are a lot of good jobs that just simply go open board and there are more permanent positions. Hell you might never see an MEBA mate at a hall. I also know MEBA mates including myself that have flown in to take a job and then flew home the same day. Don’t ever try that with MMP, the chances of a job being called magically late after some more mates have shown up happens. Expect the MMP dispatcher will scrutinize your paperwork trying to get you disqualified. Be prepared to spend some serious cash and time at MMP halls even for Chief Mate work. If you are with MEBA you won’t have these headaches.

  1. MEBA has more permanent jobs with consistent rotations

MMP has no deep-sea contracts that have an entire permanent crew and none absolutely none with permanent junior officers. MEBA has full or partial permanent crew on most contracts. Fully permanent deck crew including junior officers include Chevron, Interlake and NCL. While other contracts are mostly permanent like Keystone which only has rotary 3rd Mates. Or Liberty that allows 1 permanent 3rd mate and 1 permanent 2nd mate per ship. Or Maersk that has 1 permanent 2nd mate per ship. All MEBA contracts have senior officers who are permanent but also able to call for reliefs if they want to take a trip off. MEBA has allows for shorter hitches both in rotary positions and permanents. The average rotary job in MEBA is 90 with MMP it is almost always 120. For MEBA permanents I know it varies by contract and what the mates decided during negotiations. For example, NCL mates do 70 hitches, Maersk 90, Keystone 45-90 depending on what you and your relief want to do.

  1. Electronic job clearing

If MMP is allowing ATC to keep their permanent jobs even for junior officers and allowing them to clear the hall electronically like MEBA is offering this would be a first ever for MMP. I am almost certain senior officers with permanent jobs within MMP have to go into a hall to clear. Unlike MEBA which has contracts like Keystone where you can clear the hall electronically so if you live in Montana and are a permanent you wouldn’t have to venture to a hall before returning to a ship like MMP guys do.

  1. MEBA is more transparent

Trying to get the wages and benefit numbers on a MEBA contract is easy. The representative in the hall will show you the binder that has them all laid out for each position on the ship. It’s easy to see and straight forward and you can flip through the binder to look at other companies as well. With MMP good luck. There may be some old contracts laying around from 10 years ago. They might tell you the new wages only after giving you a hard time but some will only verbally tell you rather than print them out. Try to ask an MMP dispatcher about the benefits like how much is going towards MPB (they call it IRAP) they won’t know and might take hours for them to get it from headquarters if they are even willing to help you out.

  1. The representatives with the MEBA are simply more kind

This is subjective but MEBA is more laid back. The MEBA reps are always nice and been willing to answer my many questions for hours on end. MMP is totally different they won’t answer your questions and are incredibly rude or just plain ignorant. I have been threatened by an MMP dispatcher who got in my face and yelled at me to take a job for the whole 120 days and to not throw it back and screw him over on paperwork because it is a good job. He cussed me out but I wasn’t going to be threatened to take job especially when he wasn’t being transparent. MEBA dispatchers and reps aren’t going to pressure you into taking a job. They might offer you a free MEBA t-shirt or a sticker but certainly not cuss you out in front of people like MMP rep would.

  1. MEBA has overall better contracts

MEBA has had the highest increases in contract rates over the past couple of years compared to the other shipping unions. MEBA fights hard for its members. Unlike MMP which has undercut and underbid a lot over the past several years. MMP mates can get screwed on some really bad wages on several ships. Compare any top to bottom MMP contract with a top to bottom MEBA contract. The MEBA contracts are significantly higher. The contracts that MMP can’t “me too” from MEBA engineers are the worst.

  1. More opportunity and MEBA’s Growth

MMP has a bunch of A books sitting at 2nd mate on the best contracts clogging up advancement and the senior officers have the best contracts on lock. There are senior officer jobs available with MMP but you would have easier time getting a higher paying senior deck job in the MEBA. In the last year MEBA added 5 ships to the deck fleet. In 2025 the MEBA is going to grow by another 4 ships after the Pass-through ends (barely any MEBA Mates use it because it is simply not worth it and MEBA mates want all Express Vessels called in our halls). So there is plenty of opportunity if you were to leave ATC.

  1. Training is easier

Being able to take the Chief Mate upgrade courses wherever I wanted was great. I got reimbursed within a week or two. I liked the flexibility so I didn’t have to wait to for MITAGS to offer them and I could take them in Florida in the winter.

  1. You get a seat at the table

I had the opportunity to be involved in a contract negotiation as a junior officer. I have never heard of a MMP junior officer being involved in negotiations, in fact many of my friends at MMP were surprised by this.

  1. MEBA never gives up and fights hard

MEBA never gives up on its members. They just finished a long hard fight with NYC for a fair and significant increase for Staten Island Ferries deck and engine officers. They didn’t give up and they didn’t settle and MEBA did right by its members by securing back wages. Some MEBA guys are getting back pay amounts reaching close to a million dollars! You’ll read a lot about how long it took but you won’t read about how MMP gave up on its unlicensed members on the Staten Island Ferry so they won’t be receiving a big pay day. So if MMP is willing to give up on its unlicensed members on the Staten Island Ferry what makes you think they will not give up on you at ATC as a MMP officer?


Thank you for sharing your thesis.


Haha no problem. I figured would just layout everything in one big post for any ATC Mates that might want to read it.


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The OSG engineers might disagree with this.

If you put those same engineers in an AMO, MMP, or privately crewed engine room they might change their minds. I think MEBA has a good leadership group right now.
The Union can’t make everyone happy but at least you have a collectively louder voice vs being on your own. Usually, I find the guys that have worked for the same company their whole careers don’t really understand the value the union as much as others because they just haven’t had as wide of an industry exposure.


Look, Im sure yall are great, but theres just one thing that irks me… Past Performance is Not Indicative of Future Results. You have a great pension today. There have been lots of great companies that have had pensions that left their memebers with their asses out in the wind after years of service, most recently Yellow this summer.

I dont like the facts either but we’re down to like 80some ships in the US. The Jones act is constantly under attack. We cant crew ships with the mariners we have. Yall sound dumb peddeling how great your pension is to a 20 year old, who knows what will be left of the industry in 60 years. I’d much rather see higher 401k match rather than a pension.


I felt this way too…till 2008.

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Kinda… The S&P was around 1560 in October of 2007, then hit a low water mark in March of 2009 at 667… It closed last Friday at 4515.

Stock market always comes back (so far, anyway)… Same can’t be said for union pension funds.

BUT… That being said, with MEBA:

-You can do 401k up to $66,000 ($22.5k pretax)

-You get X% of your base pay into the Money Purchase Benefit (MPB) plan (varies by contract…6% of base pay at OSG as a reference). This MPB is basically equivalent to a 401k match as it is tax deferred money to an account in your name for free.

-AND you’re eligible for a pension after 20 years of sailing.

I’m probably biased but I would still be interested to hear from our MMP forum members about why MMP would be a better option for ATC and/or OSG mates.

Care to start us off on that @ShooterMcGavin ?


After I first joined MSC as a third mate, I talked to a chief mate in the outfit who was a member of MEBA, and he recommended it over MMP. So, when I was home on leave I went down to the hall in San Francisco (at the time, I lived across the Oakland Bay Bridge from this city). They told me that since I was a deck officer, I could not join them, that I was obligated to join MMP. They told me that their deck officers were on tankers; I told them that I was, too. I had been sailing on naval oilers, which I thought was the equivalent. Still no dice.

I ended up joining MMP government division, thinking that this would set me up for those kinds of jobs once I retired from MSC. But when I quit MSC, no one from MMP would respond to me when I sent them emails over, and the dispatcher in the MMP hall in San Francisco just laughed at me on the phone, and said that MMP would never give me a job! So, I stopped paying dues. Only then did Richard Plant contact me by phone, demanding that I pay the back dues that I missed. It was my turn to laugh at someone on the phone, and ask him why I should pay dues if they’re never going to give me a job?


Well we’ll never know the exact context of your conversation, only the parts you’re willing to share/paraphrase. I also think you highlighted the wrong word — you should have highlighted “give” and not “me.”

No hiring hall based union is obligated to “give” anyone anything except a fair shot at job calls based on seniority.

And no one is ever forced to pay back dues in all the years I’ve been with them. Many an officer has discovered MMP was not for them and simply walked away. The most they will do is give you the heads up that your dues are about to lapse, with a grace period to re-up before your book (if you have one) goes away.

I’m still unpacking the OP’s opinion piece, and trying to organize what’s worth responding to. I’d love to know where on earth he heard our pension was underfunded and which people had to sail into their 70’s. The “we’re tighter knit” remark was honesty pretty stupid. (It’d be a lot easier if I wasn’t replying on shitty wifi with a cell phone too…)

As I always say, sail where the hell you want… I made a killing with them, many others have as well (and still are.) In 60 years there will still be people arguing which union is the best and oorah-ing their cause, cause none of them are going anywhere.


I never said that. Read it again.

Why is it stupid? Sounds like you know it’s true…… and you don’t like it.

“Fair shot” and “seniority” should be used very loosely for MMP. But yes everyone at MMP can fight at the job calls….however, I doubt there will ever be any MMP completely permanent ships and especially no ships with permanent positions for junior officers ever.

How about minimum 6% of base pay into a 401k type account, that is free. And then a 401k that you can self fund up to the yearly IRS limits. All this in addition to a pension.

And I say minimum, because some contracts are much more, like 10-15%. So, like, yeah, I know 20k per year free into a 401k type account (MPB) plus pension must not be enough. And, since the pension plan is a completely separate entity with its own trustees, it can’t be robbed by companies or union officers.


Nope, that’s the word the dispatcher herself emphasized. As in, my time with the Government division of MMP counted for not a damn thing. I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about, that nobody’s obligated to give me a job. I was just trying to find out how I could get into line for the process of getting one, which was what was told to me when I joined the government division. That it could be converted to regular hiring-hall MMP. You seem to just be doing apologetics for MMP, and trying to make it seem as if my actions were unreasonable. You related to the dispatcher, by any chance? Definitely a ‘company man,’ though.

I had sent numerous e-mails through the bridgedeck messaging do-hicky, trying to get information on how to go from government division to regular hiring-hall MMP. Crickets. That’s when I called the San Francisco hiring hall. To say that the dispatcher was rude and dismissive would be an understatement. She was openly mocking of me for wanting to try to sail out of there. Basically told me I didn’t have a chance in hell of doing that. And Richard Plant did call me telling me that my dues were in arrears. I was kind of surprised, because for a couple of decades I had two of his study books. This did in fact happen to me, and I have no idea why you’re surprised about it. At the point I’d stopped paying dues, I had been paying them for about 15 years, all in the hopes that one day this would allow me to sail regular commercial MMP. In the end, that was money wasted, because I didn’t need to pay dues in order to sail for MSC.

I’ll ask again…Can ANYONE make the case for:

than MEBA?

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I don’t think anyone can make the case that MMP would be a better choice than the MEBA.
I’m not surprised that it’s been two days and still no MMP members have chimed in to make a case.
MEBA has been doing a lot of leg work with OSG unionizing. MMP not really much at all.
I think when MMP heard that MEBA was collecting pledge cards for deck officers it was embarrassing for the MMP leadership who seem to struggle to get their act together with a lot of bad contracts and lack of support from their members recently.
Splitting the union vote is stupid. Seems AMO and MEBA realized this but MMP could care less, which kinda shows their true colors.

ATC is voting on who they think can represent them the best right now. And MEBA has simply been better.

What do you expect from a group of deckies running the show? LOL!

Real life ain’t the ship, on which one can break something and just pick up the phone and tell somebody else to fix it.

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