SI Advance Series: Staten Island Ferry Workers Deserve Better. How Did It Come to This?
The Staten Island Advance/SILive.com this week published the first part of a series that will explore both the people and the issues involved in the plight of the iconic Staten Island Ferry, which was once one of the most reliable forms of mass transit in New York City.
The Marine Engineers Beneficial Association is the international maritime union that represents key operational titles at the Staten Island Ferry, including the captains, assistant captains, mates, engineers and chief engineers. The union has been fighting the city for nearly 13 years for a new contract, with workers not having received a single wage increase since 2010. The lack of a new contract and existing low wages have made it difficult for the city to recruit and retain workers during an ongoing national maritime workers shortage.
Roland Rexha, secretary/treasurer for MEBA and former shop steward at the Staten Island Ferry, sat down with the Staten Island Advance/SILive.com to discuss the service issues and ongoing contract negotiations, telling the paper he believes the city has intentionally dragged out contract negotiations in an attempt to make the union more willing to accept a new deal that would pay less than what the union believes its workers are entitled to.
“I think the city has done this purposefully, they’ve extended and pushed and made sure these decisions have taken as long as possible in a way to try to starve our membership to take a pattern agreement that’s well below what they deserve and well below what the industry pays for people with these licenses and education and experience,” Rexha said. Read more here.