New York Harbor tug crews, Staten Island Ferry workers vote to join MM&P

The following is the text of a news release from the International Organization of Masters, Mates & Pilots:

(LINTHICUM HEIGHTS, Md.) — New York area watermen who operate tugboats, dredges, tourist boats and ferries, members of Staten Island-based Local 333, have voted by an overwhelming margin to support a merger between Local 333 and the Maryland-based International Organization of Masters, Mates & Pilots (MM&P).

By a more than 2-to-1 margin, 1,300 New York and New Jersey mariners voted to affiliate with the larger national union of deck officers who serve on oceangoing ships, and which also represents captains and crews on inland waterways beyond New York Harbor. The election was conducted by mail ballot. Voting concluded yesterday. The final tally was 423 “yes” votes for affiliation, 182 “no” votes and 6 votes were judged invalid.

Don Marcus, president of the Masters, Mates & Pilots, said, “This is a great day for the Masters, Mates & Pilots. We are grateful for the confidence that the membership of Local 333 has placed in our union. Now that the ballots have been cast, we can join forces to build better working conditions for mariners in New York Harbor and all along the Atlantic Seaboard.”

The International Organization of Masters, Mates & Pilots represents deck officers who serve on U.S.-flagged ships that sail across the globe delivering goods, including military cargo and American food aid.

The union also represents workers at ferry services similar to the Staten Island Ferry in Washington state and Alaska as well as on boats involved in the tourist trade, tugboats, dredges and other vessels that work in inland waters. Harbor pilots in ports across the nation, including those who guide large ships through New York Harbor, are also members of the national union.

“While we represent many ship’s officers and harbor pilots who live in the greater metropolitan New York area and who navigate large commercial vessels in and out of the Port of New York and New Jersey every day, we haven’t had much of a presence aboard smaller vessels working the harbor and the coastal waters of the Northeast for many years,” said Marcus.

Pilots and sea captains outraged over the treatment of Capt. Charles P. Smith founded the International Organization of Masters, Mates & Pilots, one of the country’s oldest unions, in New York in 1887. The captain, who heroically saved his passengers and crew after a boiler exploded on his paddle-wheel steamer, Seawanhaka, in the New York’s East River, was made a scapegoat by local politicians. Smith eventually was cleared of any wrongdoing and today, 127 years later, the Masters, Mates & Pilots represents 4,600 captains, deck officers, pilots and other maritime professionals who serve on U.S.-flagged vessels.

Local 333 was founded in 1935 to represent maritime workers in the New York area and elsewhere in the Northeast.

Affiliation with the Masters, Mates & Pilots will give New York and New Jersey mariners access to the union’s resources, including its credit union, legal services, lobbying support and state-of-the-art training facility in Linthicum, Md. They also will be eligible for job openings on inland waters in other regions of the country.

By Professional Mariner Staff