City's Failure to Support Staten Island Ferry Workers Leads to Service Disruptions
New York City’s neglect for its Staten Island Ferry mariners, who have been working for the last 11 years without a contract, impacted other working New Yorkers this week when the system suffered service disruptions due to understaffing caused by the NYC Department of Transportation's failure to attract and retain qualified mariners. The Marine Engineers Beneficial Association (MEBA), which represents Captains, Assistant Captains, Engineers and Mates on the ferries, has been pointing out for years that officers in the fleet are working for far less than industry wages. They haven’t had a pay increase in 12 years as management continues to offer below-market compensation for fleet mariners who are expected to work high-stress positions with huge responsibilities without adequate support from the City.
On Wednesday, the DOT cut back rush hour ferry sailings from every 15 minutes to once-an-hour on its Manhattan to St. George run, once again impacting New Yorkers who rely on the fleet for daily transportation. After the announced delays, the City then arranged for a non-union ferry operator to transport some of the stranded passengers. Two weeks ago, the City wrongfully blamed a COVID uptick among the already decimated staff for their decision to cut back service. MEBA Secretary-Treasurer Roland “Rex” Rexha, a former Shop Steward at the ferry system, pointed out that the City’s failure to adequately compensate their mariners has destroyed morale and led to an exodus of mariners who can find better paying jobs with fewer headaches elsewhere.
“Nobody sticks around, they leave,” he said. “Why would they stay at the Staten Island Ferry when it’s not even close to industry wages?” Read a full statement from Rexha here.
“It’s inexcusable that New York City commuters are having to pay the price for the NYC Department of Transportation’s failure to resolve a contract for more than 11 years," said NYC CLC President Vincent Alvarez. "To make matters worse, the DOT is now outsourcing operations to a non-union operator to do the jobs they've refused to adequately staff. The DOT could ensure reliable service, fix this chronic understaffing and restore our ability to recruit and retain mariners today by resolving this long overdue contract, for both the dedicated ferry workers and the commuters whose lives and livelihoods are being disrupted.” #FerryContractNow