MM&P Union Halls, worth it?

This is coming from someone living in the middle of the country and not close to any of MM&Ps union halls. I’ve heard a lot of bad things about AMO in the last couple of years so I’m really hesitant to join, but being where I am my options are limited, so I’ve honestly been considering every available option.

I’m in no position to move to the coast to be closer to the union halls, but I could still travel out there to try, though I’m hesitant to do that considering the stories I’ve heard of month long waiting periods. Is it worth it at all for a person living in the central states to join MMP over AMO? I’m only asking because I’m not really sure what to do here.

It’s a crap shoot which ever way you decide. With MM&P at least you can make a few bucks night mating to offset the expense of laying for that ship while you wait. The best method obviously is to live close to a union hall, but it can work both ways. Just make sure you go every day and stick around at least thirty minutes after job call even if no jobs are on the board because you never know when a ‘fly out’ job will come in. Also remember to try your best to get off the ship in the same port you joined in. People pay attention to that and you don’t want to become a pariah by losing work from certain halls. And last but not least, don’t be picky. A job is a job. I’ve seen people get incredibly lucky just starting out and other people just struggle to catch a break. Again, a crap shoot. Good luck.


Thanks for this info. I will remember it if I ever have to work with MM&P & hope the OP & others do the same. But dang, that’s what members are paying the union halls for?

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Presumably if the members didn’t want halls they would vote to get rid of them.

MSC uses basically the same system with the pool. Except they have to pay a wage.

In any case ultimately all the money comes from the ships. .

What position are you trying to ship out as?

Unions are not a job search agency for you. Unions are a group of people who represent their members. Union members pay dues for the same reason civic, faith-based, cultural, business, and professional association members pay dues: It costs money to run an organization, it costs money to defend the best interests of the membership. All workers benefit from unions, because unions set pay standards and workplace protections. Union members benefit most from the union’s collective bargaining power to negotiate with employers on their behalf. This basic right gives you as a union member more power than if you tried to negotiate as an individual.
Union employees make an average of 30% more than non-union workers.
92% of union workers have job-related health coverage versus 68% of non-union workers.
Union workers are more likely to have guaranteed pensions than non-union employees.
Unions help protect employees from unjust dismissal through collective bargaining agreements (CBA). Because of this, most union employees cannot be fired without “just cause.” This is unlike many nonunion workers who are considered “at-will” employees and can be fired at any time for almost any reason.
So you pay dues… or not. Decision is up to each individual seeking a job. Is the system perfect absolutely not but choose your poison.


Nailed it Tengineer1. I have been both, forced into “Management” from being SIU. The pension numbers from the"New" company were horrible.Years later we “The managers” voted in AMO. Say what you will, AMO pension which I currently enjoy paid substantially more than what the company was projected to pay. I retired at age 48,not 65 based on company projections. Almost always,whatever union you select, you will be better off. As Tengineer1 said, choose your poison.

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In my 24 years of working on floating pieces of metal I’ve worked union, non-union & as supervisor of union subordinates. I would do all three again without hesitation to make a paycheck. No problem with diversity for me. But after all these years & different experiences I know a shit sandwich when I see it. From the tips posted about MM&P it sounds like they have a whole buffet of shit sandwiches. If it were a non union outfit or a bayou company that required all that crap to ship out instead, you & a dozen others would be all over this thread calling it the bullshit that it is. But since it’s not & ends with the statement, “A job is a job” you give the union job description a thumbs up & repeat the pro-union mantra. Screw that, not me, it sounds like a bunch a bullshit. Suggesting moving close to a hall & being forced to show up at a certain place everyday at a certain time without pay & no guarantee of future employment sounds too much like some dreaded GoM, bayou bullshit to me.

Funny enough, once I quit a non union company after 10 years of employment to go make less money at a union job because they kept me too long off payroll on standby waiting to ship out. The company offered to put me up in a training center bunkhouse with free room & board but I always stayed in a hotel on my own dime. After 3 times of that I quit & all total I spent less than a week combined waiting.

I pray that I never have it so bad that I have to move my family or go hang out for weeks or months at a time in a hall for free just to get a job. They can keep that job.

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I was merely trying to help out this young mate with some of the facts involved with sailing ‘off the board’ in the MMP. Me personally, I only did that as long as it took me to build my license and reputation to a point where I could get hired on permanently as a senior officer. Then it is like any other senior officers job with excellent benefits. Some people like the freedom of not having to return to work on a regular schedule but still make a decent wage. Some people like myself like the steady work and the ships the union has under contract. To each their own. No one is forcing you to become a member, but for those that are curious what is involved, might as well tell them here.

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If you already live near a hall with decent jobs then it likely wouldn’t be a bad gig, but I never have so I never did it.

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Couldn’t agree more. I wish him luck & hope MM&P get more contracts which would hopefully make things easier. It is what it is.

Fortunate I guess that I lived near a hall in my youth. Only had to use it once or twice starting out… Most of the different employers I contacted them myself. They were all union contracted companies. I used the hall for day jobs on assist tugs while on my time off. Things are perhaps a bit different now, I’ve been retired since 2003. A little hustle and persistence never hurt when looking for a job, union or not. My son was with MSC as a 3rd mate, still had to sit in the pool waiting for his next job, which did take a bit of time. While in the pool, MSC paid for all the extra training he needed (and kept him on the payroll). He was a member of MMP but not for representation at MSC… MSC has their own set of rules and a different animal… Through my experience over the years, the union jobs paid better and had decent benefits I could rely on. I cannot speak for others, but that was my take on it since 1974.

When just starting out it’s easier if you live or have a place to stay near the hall. But for members shipping off the board that have better seniority they typically spend very little time in the hall. For one it’s often not hard to figure out when a specific job is going to get called. Just need to show up that day.

For those with a card that is not old enough to easily ship it might be better to work on a tug or whatever till your card gets a little older.

In any case once a member has a permanent job no need to go to job call at all. I moved back to Maine after I got a permanent job.

Thanks for asking this question Shore. I have called a few MMP halls asking how long can an applicant expect to wait? The answer is months, and months, and months, and months followed by a laugh…I want to mention no one has been blatantly rude, but sounds discouraging to say the least. Is this reality? Or is this what MMP sailors say to discourage young mates from crowding halls? Does anyone know if it is feasible to ship out in at least 6 months, as an applicant?

Anything is feasible. You have to physically put yourself in the hall and submit your shipping card to the dispatcher to find out. The dispatchers you talked to on the phone are not psychics so they have no way of knowing when someone might quit, or get fired, or decide to take a trip off. It’s also a union so a certain amount of personal interaction is going to be part of being a member. Laying for a ship in the hall is a good way to learn the ins and outs of how the process works and talk to experienced members. You can also pick up night work and make some decent money. Houston is the hot hand for night work right now from what I’ve seen.

We all started somewhere, took our chances, and paid our dues. Give it a shot


Depends on your license I think. Third mates need 6 month cards at least. I got several 2/m job and c/m as an applicant with just 2 month cards. One time the place was packed but come to find out everyone there were 3/m.

And if you have a security clearance and all the MSC classes it’s much much easier.

Chances are a dispatcher answered the phone, not one of the members. That’s their job. Like Dam Yankee says, if you want to see how the halls work the best bet is to go see and talk to the members.

Members with full book status are not going to care how many applicants are in the hall. Unless there is no place to sit down or similar.

First time I went to hall with a third’s license the books were closed, couldn’t join. I came back a few years latter with a second mate license and got a job as soon as I walked in.