Dec 17, 2021 | News Story

City "Abandons Ship," Leaving SI Ferry Workers Without a Contract for 11 Years

The Chief-Leader this week covers the City’s continued refusal to provide a new contract with higher compensation to the union that represents the captains, assistant captains, mates, chief engineers and marine engineers of the Staten Island Ferry. The City's failure to do so is resulting in staffing shortages and now, delays in the unveiling of a new ship.

The Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association (MEBA)'s last contract with the city expired in November 2010, and members' last raise came 12 months before that. MEBA is seeking the prevailing wage for all members, giving them parity with their counterparts at the Washington State Ferry, who are paid between 20 percent and—in the case of Captains—30 percent more. The ability to attract qualified staff at a time when there is a national shortage of mariners is particularly difficult given an inadequate pay structure that is more than 12 years out of date.

"A lot of members have taken second jobs on [private] ferry boats and fishing boats," said MEBA Secretary-Treasurer Roland "Rex" Rexha. "You have ferry-boat Captains who are working second jobs in catering."

"It's a real failure on the part of the city, but it's a real credit to the workers that they've gone 12 years without a contract and they're still on the job," NYC CLC President Vincent Alvarez told the Chief. "Let's get a contract that recognizes the skill-sets of these certified professionals."

The City's failure to engage in contract talks and the staffing issues that have resulted were also the subject of a report by 1010Wins—click here to listen—as well as earlier reporting from the Staten Island Advance.