Tanker Captains should be making 471,000?

Saw @john recently said in another thread:

“Do you know how much Captain Hazelwood made in 1989? $185,000! Go adjust that for inflation.”

Well, I did. According to the US BLS that 185k has the same buying power as 471,157.27 today.

Other industries have kept up. Especially in the last few years.

The deep sea fleet is mostly union from deck to engine to steward, officer to entry level. How have real wages gone down? Curious if anyone has some insight.

I am not an economics expert but could it have something to do with the fact that airlines can easily turn around and increase fares? So much of the JA fleet is government footing the bill - does that make it harder to do the same for shipping? Are the union leaders just incompetent? Is there something else at play?

My guess would be multiple unions underbidding each other to secure contracts in an ever decreasing fleet.


With the retiring of Don Marcus there’s a huge potential for things to change. That’s assuming however that MMP elects someone willing work with the AMO and MEBA both which have been raising wages - I’ve seen some of the numbers. It’s promising.

I guess we will have to wait and see. MMP is at a crossroads that’s for sure.

1 Like

They either need to merge the officer’s unions, or let MEBA have all the engineers, and let MMP have all the deck officers.

Mariners have been held hostage by union thugs taking payoffs from shipowners, and competing with each other in a race to the bottom, to feather their own nests (or is it simply being horrible negotiators) for far too long.

Having one officer’s union (like the Guild, in Canada) makes the most sense.

Then they need to agree to all stand fast together ( and put all the petty bullshit away) for one good MINIMUM national contact.

As long as the American flag shipowners have a level playing field they should accept this without crying too much. They all live on Jones Act protections, or government subsidies and fat government contracts anyway.


When the overall fleet has decreasing ships you have to fight for contracts to keep your members employed. Having multiple unions gives the companies too much leverage.


That would just divide things even more! That will also would never happen, not one deck officer in the MEBA would agree to that. We wouldn’t want a downgrade in representation and benefits, no thanks.

That would be the best for sure.

Don Marcus will be gone. I am hopeful they will vote in a new leader that wants to strengthen cooperation and rebuild relationships with the other unions.
I know a lot of MMP mates and they definitely want to work with the MEBA and AMO and not be the odd one out.

Where does that “$185,000” number actually come from?

Get one union, at least one officers u ion and one unlicensed union, and this southern boy MIGHT consider supporting the union.

1 Like

Having worked with folks from all 3 unions over the years (MMP/MEBA/AMO) it’s really not the current memberships opposed to their unions working together but the “old guard” who spew that “these guys suck” attitude and unfortunately it seems that is who their respective leadership listens to. If the Unions truly would work together and not underbid each other, then yeah we would see an increase in wages. Likewise, if crews held themselves to the standards the companies expect of them, some of these operators may be more inclined to improve their numbers at the negotiation table. The CEOs and investors want a decent ROI on their side, labor wants an honest day’s pay on their side.


I know MEBA and AMO have fairly young average age for their members and their leadership reflects this too. I think MMP has an older average age of its current members and I heard their retires can vote which also might factor into their “old guard” rhetoric (That might be a rumor because that seems crazy that non active members can vote.)
I think in general that the most of the MMP and especially its younger cohort want to work together with other Unions, but we will see.

Not sure what its worth but…my roommate was making 80k as a 3M in 1999 on the SR Mediterranean.

Adjusted to today that would be about 150k. You can get that with Polar. OSG maybe? Definitely not with Crowley - which is both union and the largest JA tanker operator. Anyone have insight on roughly what the 10 TSP ships pay?

You can get that with other companies too with union benefits.
We have to remember that wages look at half the picture and benefits are the other half. For example, Polar and OSG (deck officers) are non union and have the worst medical benefits of Deepsea employers with high deductibles and a direct high cost out of their paycheck to stay in the plan. Also the wages have to be compared at all levels. For example, Polar has maybe 150k for thirds but their senior officers are underpaid comparatively to senior levels at union companies.

So what was Exxon paying for benefits back in the day for hazelwood ? Because that also should be considered

True. Benefits should be looked at too. We all say polar is non union, but they actually have their own union just for them. I understand they have benefits.

yes, they do have a “company union”… their benefits are through the company not union and they are bad not up to par with union companies.

Why would MM&P have all the deck officers when AMO has the majority of deep sea deckies and jobs?

I’m going to conjecture that the number is the total sum of wages, benefits, including medical, retirement contributions, and training.

I don’t know enough about the deep sea unions to know which should be the survivors of a consolidation.

I’m just convinced that all of the officers would be much better off with only one union. And that a rising tide lifts all boats, so us non-union guys would be better off too.

No doubt, if there were only one officers union, that treated everyone the same (with no ripoff pseudo-union inland divisions), that officers union would soon gain another 10,000 new members, and have a much bigger lobby and a lot more bargaining power.


I agree one officers Union would be great. I could see that one day, MEBA and the AMO will eventually join together again. It might be separate “districts” or units with different names but under one umbrella Union. Currently both Unions themselves, their schools, their benefit plans, their political action funds, etc are very strong financially. Not to mention combined they’d represent almost all deepsea engineers and a significant majority of deck officers.

At this time, I don’t see MMP willing nor able to join the other two. Even if the MMP changes leadership that starts to get along with the other Unions and not undercut, they have a lot of work to do to get their finances in order for a merger. MITAGS is rumored to be loosing 1million dollars a year and their pension isn’t in good shape- especially for what the members get from it.

Whatever MMPs real or perceived problems, they are not a significant obstacle to actually merging the unions, if members are smart enough to put away the petty bullshit and old animosities to achieve the obvious future benefits of having one powerful union

A team of PhDs in Labor, Economics, and Actuarial Science could come up with a feasible and fair pension merger plan in a couple of weeks.

If MITAGS is losing $1 million a year, that’s a small problem that can be easily cured. Instead of trying to charge non-members too much for courses, match MPT prices, and keep the school full and profitable all the time.

If the various union leaderships had the slightest bit of marketing savvy, they would be using their schools to treat non-union mariners right, provide good training, and show them the advantages of union membership.

This would help the unions to organize non-union employers and grow their base, incomes and power.

Nitpicking and naysaying a merger of the officers unions into one union is counterproductive and hazardous to the financial future of everyone, except vessel owners.

An exuberant rah-rah MEBA, screw MMP (or vice versa) attitude, just makes one an unwitting stooge of the vessel owners.