Tanker Captains should be making 471,000?

The reality is, foreign crews can get the job done cheaper, and this is how the USA operates because our industrial base has deteriorated so much.

A large reason why we badly need to edit the Jones Act to allow us to use South Korean, Japanese, and European vessels on Jones Act routes.

It wouldn’t be an immediate fix but it would help operators have ships that don’t cost 6x market value / follow a similar framework to the airline industry. They’re not going to pay a Matson captain $470k when their 3000 TEU boxship costs more than a 24000 TEU ULCC.

A single union for officers would definitely help with negotiations. Being a MEBA member, I believe the biggest hurdle to that is the fact that MEBA still has a true defined benefit pension and AMO and, as I understand it, MMP do not. A merger would be a hard sell to MEBA membership. It’s been discussed a few times in my 20 years with MEBA and the rank and file don’t love the idea. After 2009 when AMO froze their pension, attitudes resisting merger got stronger.

MEBA members would NOT take kindly to taking away their defined benefit pension. Looking forward to a $80000+/yr pension is not something to toy with.

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In comparison to other sectors of the transportation industry, Maritime pay increases have not kept pace:

  • Aviation: Pilots are experiencing an immediate 21% raise, constituting a 46% pay hike over four years.
  • Rail: A nominal 22% salary increase, the largest in decades, with additional bonuses.
  • Trucking: Witnessed a remarkable 15.5% year-over-year growth in driver wages in 2022.
  • Shipping: Limited information on pay increases.

Shipping is arguably the most austere of the transportation industries. That isolation has not been weighted in compensation so skilled talents are voting w/their feet.

The Center for Naval Analysis’s 2006 study* aligns with our current reality, emphasizing that increased pay is more effective than increased leave in retaining skilled mariners. (MSC-specific.)

The other transportation sectors have reached the same conclusion to shore up their labor pools. Otherwise, Airline Pilots, Train Operators, and Truck Drivers would have just gotten more “time off” instead of Pay raises. Unlike other sectors, advanced licenses and skilled mariners are comparatively rare; creating more mariners quickly is neither expedient nor viable.

Nearly all other AFL CIO affiliate unions have received compensation adjustments to avoid calamity. The Maritimes are out of sight and out of mind. It should not take a complete collapse (no shade intended towards Key Bridge…) of an industry or a war with a near peer to snap us out of this quagmire. USMM’s decline is so complete that it feels intentional. (incompetent of complicit?)

Since MEBA appears to be the union with the strongest finances and best pension, it should be the surviving union in the merger. AMO and MMP merge into MEBA and cease to exist.

Obviously, the MEBA defined benefit pension would be kept. A defined benefit pension is one of the most important features of a good union.

If the unions were merged, AMO and MMP members would either need to buy-in to the full MEBA pension, or they would receive smaller pensions. The formulae to merge into the MEBA pension would be complex, but fair. MEBA members would be guaranteed their full pensions, or more. MEBA pension plan would not subsidize former AMO or MMP members, they would only get what they pay in for.

May be the simplest way would be for existing MMP and AMO members to start upon merger as entry level MEBA pension plan members, and keep separately whatever pension, if any, they have accrued in the other union plans.

Example 1: AMO has no defined benefit pension, so the AMO member starts at entry level in the MEBA plan, and keeps whatever is in his AMO 401k.

Example 2: MMP member, if no defined benefit pension plan, starts at entry level in MEBA pension plan, and keep MMP 401k.

Example 3: If MMP has a defined benefit plan, the cash value of the MMP plan gets transferred into the MEBA plan, and the former MMP/new MEBA member starts out in the MEBA plan based upon the cash value that he brought into the plan.

Example 4: existing MMP members start at entry level in the MEBA plan, and just keep their MMP pensions too, they draw from both upon retirement based upon years of service.

Come on, you are smart, experienced guys, the pension plan issues can be resolved, don’t let irrational fears about the pension plan defeat having one union. That just plays right into the hands of the vessels owners.

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I think you are absolutely right that it can be easily achieved between MEBA and AMO. A MEBA and AMO merger of plans could be achieved relatively easily. The AMO and MEBA could operate as two separate “districts” within one union- so everyone can keep the job rules of their associated district. For example the AMO district would still have their online job board while the MEBA district would still have their union halls.

I like your thought, but there’s some more complexity. The MMP pension isn’t fully funded. If the pensions merged, the MEBA would have to absorb MMP outstanding underfunded liabilities. The MEBA wouldn’t want to basically cover for the bad management of another union and put their own pension on the hook for it. MMP would have to freeze their pension and modify it. The MMP would also have to sell its school possibly before the merger. MEBA wouldn’t want to be on the hook for a loosing assets with rumored major foundation issues that could possibly complicate a sale.

I can see where it would make sense for MEBA and AMO to merge first and digest those changes.

I’m suspicious of the concept of two districts, as that sounds to me like two unequal classes of citizenship, but I can see that as a starting point to be eventually phased out.

Wouldn’t a MEBA and AMO merger make MMP a much smaller and less powerful union and force them to either race toward the bottom, underbidding, or also merge?

And this ladies and gentlemen, is why we won’t have progress any time soon. However a merger happens won’t be fair for someone, but it is necessary. Someone will get the short end of the stick for the greater good. That’s how this stuff happens.

Also for the record saying MMP is losing millions of dollars and is going to shut down MITAGS is a huge claim to just say you heard. Is there any real evidence of this?


The perfect is the enemy of the good.

Nitpicking and naysaying to obstruct what most see as the very significant benefit to all officers having one large and powerful officers union (without competing unions racing toward the bottom) seems to be irresistible to many people who should know better.

This is why shipowners are getting richer and the rest of us are getting poorer (adjusted for inflation).

That’s ok. It’s far too late for it to matter very much for me.

If AMO and MEBA merged, MMP could continue to attempt to underbid up to a certain extent but it might only work for the deck side. If at any time AMO/MEBA stopped filling the engine billets and refused to put engineers with MMP contracts it would force a merger. MMP raced to the bottom with SLNC and Grandriver but they rely on MEBA and AMO engineers to fill their engine jobs right now.

Hopefully they just merge for the good of all

I personally haven’t heard they are going to shut it down… I think the person suggested it. I AGREE THEY SHOULD THOUGH….They’ve got some serious problems with that school. It’s a waste of money. Just reimburse members to take classes elsewhere

Greetings - I must, respectfully, disagree. MITAGS classes are far better than any other of the continuing ed/maritime training centers in the US. Their simulators and Nav Skills Assessment Program (NSAP) eclipse all of the Maritime Academy and US Naval facilities/programs. For advanced Meteorology we actually had a meteorologist give some of the lectures. A NASA scientist gave the lecture on sleep deprivation for PIC. (Side note: even met Buzz Aldrin there as a guest speaker for the Upper Management class as a result of the STCW Manila amendments) Med Care Provider had a few labs in an actual ER. (got to remove stitches and update vitals on actual patients…) I could go on but… I humbly submit that, in my experience, MITAGS classes have always out performed all the other Maritime Training Centers and Fleet Training Centers. Unfortunately, I seem to overeat while I’m there because their Mess Deck operation is also excellent. Hope you have an opportunity to give it MITAGS another shot. I have no financial stake in MITAGS and am a proud ALUM of MMA (91’). That said, this is an objective look from years of attending many training centers for upgrades and re-certs.
Thanks for reading this far.


I totally agree on this also. Compared to MPT, MITAGS is far better on pretty much all fronts. More professional, better facilities, better learning programs, I could go on.

But this is not a thread about the best continuing education.

The point I would try to make is, MMP is not total dead weight in a negotiation to get all the unions together.


I don’t understand this philosophy, but I think this must be exactly how MMP and MITAGS executives must feel about the school. They are so sure of this posture, that they will maintain status quo even as it drags the school down a sinkhole.

The training mission of MITAGS has become secondary to its use as a third rate conference center. On any particular day, a mariner will be overwhelmed while walking around those long hallways by people who have absolutely no interest in anything maritime and no idea what the original intent of the school was or who that small shabbily dressed group is that actually uses the classrooms for their original purpose. For cris’ sakes, MITAGS even changed their vision statement so that its conference ops are front and center.

But maybe that is a good thing since it defrays the cost of those large (mostly unoccupied) ‘70 era hotel towers? Perhaps. But bottom line is there are fewer and fewer mariners using the campus to learn because the costs to maintain all that infrastructure are completely out of control. Most of the MMP inland companies recognize this and don’t even participate in the training program.

So can a school be better on all fronts if it makes no attempts to deliver value to its bill payers? I’d rather see costs come down and enrollment increase.

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That’s news to me — along with the claim in another thread that our pensioners are somehow suffering after hanging it up.

No MITAGS has the worst food compared to the Calhoon and the Star Center. Worst bar too!
At MITAGs I was disappointed- maritime training felt secondary to all the conferences.

This is MITAGS^

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This is the Calhoon MEBA School^

It needs more spinach.

…then the food has MARKEDLY decreased in quality since I was last there. The food was always plentiful, tasty, and well presented.

Secondary missions is commentary on the state of the US Merchant Marine. Even the Maritime Academies are offering Plant Facilities Engineering and Logistics Majors. Again, the USMM is in crisis which has a direct link to our strategic readiness and national security. USMM, shipyards and supporting trades have been outsourced. The US is the biggest consumer of goods and energy but we have no control over our logistics or energy. (starting to make some headway on energy…) ~90 US flag oceangoing ships out of ~50,000. We have relegated ourselves to be witnesses to how great maritime nations conduct international trade. I hope Del Toro’s plan works to turn that around.

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The instructors were good. But overall I wasn’t impressed. There wasn’t really a full dinner at MITAGS either - it was pretty lack luster. I guess most leave for dinner. MITAGs is expensive too wasn’t worth the cost to me. The bar drinks were expensive for everyone even MMP members.

At the Calhoon school there’s even snacks you can take to go. I got that high noon for free for that meal. I think they provide free bevs one a month for meals or something not a sure. Their bar sells drinks at cost and has a bell that the bartender rings as everyone buys rounds.

I should have taken pictures and down reviews of all the schools I’ve attended. I could’ve compared costs, food, campuses, etc.
I’ve had good instructors through MPT, Calhoon, and Star Center. So I don’t think MMP would hurt any in training if they closed it and rerouted the money to their members.