Liberty Maritime Addresses Change in Union Affiliation

Mike Schuler
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October 3, 2011

Liberty Maritime today confirmed its new collective bargaining agreement with the American Maritime Officers (AMO) union, essentially replacing the MEBA union members on five of its bulk carriers with AMO officers as of October 1.

As we reported over the weekend the change in manning is not sitting well with MEBA, who claims to have reached a agreement-in-principle with Liberty on the terms of a new contract. “Liberty Maritime has turned its back on the employees and the Union that have delivered great service since the inception of the company,” said MEBA President Mike Jewell in a written statement posted to the MEBA’s website.

But Liberty Maritime says different.  Today the company released an official statement saying they tried to work with the MEBA but, ultimately, could not reach an agreement.

“We worked many months with the MEBA to try to reach a new agreement, and as late as three days before the prior agreement was due to expire, the MEBA called to say the Union was not interested in our proposal,” said President and CEO of Liberty Maritime, Philip Shapiro.

Executive Vice President of Marine Operation, Thomas F. Keenan, added: “Contrary to what MEBA has publicly asserted, we offered increases in wages and in contributions to MEBA’s defined contribution retirement plan in exchange for freezing their defined benefit retirement plan. We remain convinced that their members would have been better off under our proposal than the Union’s proposal. For the record, at no time has Liberty Maritime ever sought to “lock out” MEBA members. We proposed pay increases, but in the end, we did not reach agreement because we simply could not bridge our economic and other differences prior to the expiration of the existing contract.”

According to Liberty, MEBA will continue to provide deck officers and engineers on the three U.S.-flag Pure Car/Truck Carrier vessels (PCTCs) a separate collective bargaining agreement between can be reached.

So we have to ask…

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