MSC to union transition: how to prepare?

Currently sailing for MSC as an deck officer. What is the best way to plan for an eventual transition to union/private sector work? Are there certain MSC/Navy certificates/trainings/ship experience that can make you more competitive/in demand for things like Patriot MMP gigs or AMO govt contracts? Are there things to stay away from that have no correlation in the private sector (rescue swimmer program, ammo ships, EPFs)? Better to move at 2nd mate or wait for the chief mate ticket?

Apologies for the block of questions, just a lot of things to take into account, hopefully there is some advice out there from more experienced folk who have made the jump.

Make damn sure you do not leave until you have taken all your Chief Mate classes and passed the exam. Make damn sure you have Tankerman-PIC before you leave.


If you are with MSC are you a member of MM&P. I do not know all the ins or outs but I believe you can transition to their offshore group.

Back in the day with the MEBA if you were a member of their government services group (Army Corp or MSC) for 3 years you could transition over with full book membership, I.e., Group 1 status. Not sure if that is still the case or what the rule are for MM&P.

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Son, while working for MSC (not union) was a dues paying member to MMP… Would have liked for him to go AMO, but his choice, not mine. Not represented by them, but a member. It was his hope if he left MSC that the transition would be a bit smoother. Never got to that point because of medical issues. I wish you well sir in your transition. As Slickcam noted, get all the documents/upgrades you can before making a move. It can get quite expensive otherwise.

MSC’s deck officers are actually represented by MMP.

AMO is not an option with MSC through joining MMP is not compulsory.

Son worked for MSC, straight up. Was not represented by MMP, did join as an elective decision as offered by that union. They did not negotiate his pay, pension ,or working conditions. That was all MSC. Agree, MMP was not compulsory. His choice. No longer a member. MMP does represent some , but not all by any means.

From the MM&P Website

"Regardless of MM&P membership group affiliation, all who work aboard government vessels are included in specific bargaining units and represented under the negotiated contracts.


Federal law requires that all bargaining unit employees be represented under a negotiated contract whether or not they are union members, non-union employees may only claim explicit contract representation, which is, in some cases, limited."

The contracts are in fact negotiated by MM&P. And membership is not required, however, the degree of representation is more limited if you are not. For a non-dues paying member representation is limited to explicit violations of the contract.

Was not a bargaining unit employee.

I work for MSC, “straight up” as you said. And you’re just wrong on this one. The contracts for MSC’s deck officers are negotiated by MM&P. Paying union dues or not is 100% optional and defines your degree of representation. It’s common knowledge at MSC that we’re represented by MM&P whether you pay dues or not. I don’t know anyone who pays dues, but people do contact the union rep designated to the unit of MM&P.

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Not to get in a pissing match, I hate that. But you say it is common knowledge MMP negotiates all MSC contracts and represents their members and you don’t know anyone who pays dues? That just doesn’t sound right. What benefit is it to MMP to do that with no dues? I am glad a union is working with MARAD/MSC , just can’t get my head around that. Nothing is free.

Why would anyone contact the union rep if you do not pay dues?

What makes anyone think they are entitled to union representation without paying dues?

The strange nature of union representation of public employees is why you can be a civmar, be represented by MM&P, and not pay dues. You are welcome to call them for help. Will they help you, who knows? But yes all MSC, ACOE, and some NOAA and Navy civilian deck officers are nominally represented by MM&P Government services division. Even if you think you aren’t, you are.

I should add, employment for these deck officers is by “evergreen” contract originally negotiated by MM&P and subject to update and continual negotiation as needed. Paraphrased straight from the contract.

Janus v. AFSCME.

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What would happen if you wanted to be a part of MMP on a govt contracted Oil field supply vessel?

Vote for them when they contact you. Then you will know .

You work for an OSV company. And when you got hired you signed an understanding that you wouldn’t join a union. At least I did when I worked at an OSV company briefly.

Union penetration in OSV field has not yielded good results. They try, but too many fences in front of that. Sad that it is that way, but no matter what, oil prices and owners determine that particular market.

Back to the gentleman’s actual question, have the highest license you can, be prepared to sail below your license for a while, have money saved, have more money saved, have even more money saved.

Have living expenses for at least 6 months a year would be better and travel expenses

Is that legal?