Update on Liberty Lockout: Management and Officers Walking Off

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It has not taken long for the actual facts to get out. The Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association (M.E.B.A.) appreciates the support of all mariners in the United States Merchant Marine and the labor leaders from around the country.

Maritime Union MEBA Workers Fighting for their Jobs

The Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association (M.E.B.A.) has learned that it has not taken long for the members of the American Maritime Officers (AMO) union to stand in solidarity with MEBA members who are picketing Liberty Maritime Corporation. Various AMO members have chosen not to take MEBA jobs aboard Liberty Maritime ships after MEBA officers were locked out of their jobs Saturday morning at 12:01 a.m.

MEBA President Mike Jewell released a letter on http://www.mebaunion.org saying he appreciates this and the support of all mariners in the United States Merchant Marine and the labor leaders from around the country.

However, AMO President Tom Bethel wrote in a letter to Jewell that he supports his own membership filling jobs on the Liberty ships. The letter also stated MEBA should not be picketing Liberty Maritime Corporation because the MEBA collective bargaining agreement had expired and MEBA members were no longer legally assured jobs. But the AMO faced a similar situation when its collective bargaining agreement with American Steamship Company (ASC) expired this summer, at midnight on July 31, 2011 without the parties reaching an agreement. ASC owns and operates 17 ships. On August 1, 2011, AMO went on strike. The MEBA and all other maritime labor unions did not interfere in the labor dispute between AMO and ASC.

Late Friday afternoon, in the Port of Galveston, Texas, a Liberty Maritime Corporation management official walked off the vessel and drove over to the information booth being set up by the MEBA. This person said: “I just spoke with Liberty in New York, and told them I am not going to be part of this. I respect what you folks have to do, good luck.”

On Saturday evening, two U.S. Mariners walked off the vessel in Galveston, Texas with their sea bags packed and draped over their shoulders. They had not even been on the vessel for 24 hours. This morning, another U.S. Mariner walked off the vessel with his sea bag packed and draped over his shoulder. He exited the gate with a nod to the picketers.

Jewell requests all officers in the United States Merchant Marine, whether they went to the same maritime academies, secured their licenses through the Navy or Coast Guard, or worked up through the hawes pipe to stand with the union. He also requests that these mariners call their friends in the AMO and ask them to support the MEBA during this strike.

About the Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association
The M.E.B.A., America’s oldest maritime labor union, supplies U.S. Coast Guard licensed deck and engineering officers in both the U.S. domestic and international trades. The Union was established in1875. Its members serve aboard tugs and barges, fireboats, research vessels and in various capacities in the shoreside industries. In wartime, M.E.B.A. members have sailed in virtually unarmed merchant ships delivering critical defense cargo despite attacks from enemy aircrafts, submarines and warships. In times of peace our members still face dangers such as piracy on the high seas in order to best serve their country.

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