Teamsters seek better deal for Steamship Authority licensed deck officers

Written by Nick Blenkey
Teamsters seek better deal for licensed deck officers at Steamship Authority

The collective bargaining agreement between Teamsters Local 59 and the Steamship Authority is set to expire July 26 and the union wants a better deal for the licensed deck officers working for the ferry operator. More formally “the Woods Hole, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Steamship Authority,” the authority is the statutory regulatory body for all ferry operations between mainland Massachusetts and the islands of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, as well an operator of ferry services between the mainland and the islands.

The following is a statement from Teamsters Local 59 president and business representative Jeff Sharp regarding ongoing contract negotiations with the Steamship Authority:

“For months, Local 59 has been engaging with the Steamship Authority to negotiate new collective bargaining agreements for the hundreds of Teamsters working in and on the vessels.

“The primary concern of Steamship Authority workers has been their scheduling. The licensed deck officers—also known as captains and pilots—are required to work 18 hours within a 24-hour period. With often only having six hours off the clock, it has been extremely difficult to attract new hires and maintain current staffing levels.

“Working beyond 18 hours in a 24-hour period poses a serious safety threat to workers and passengers alike. Industry standard for maritime workers is a 12-hour limit during a 24-hour period, but the Coast Guard granted the Steamship Authority an exemption more than two decades ago that allows them to work more hours.

“The exemption was initially intended to be temporary and now needs obvious updating.

“With the current contract set to expire on July 26, 2024, Steamship Authority Teamsters are urging their employer to negotiate a fair contract with reasonable scheduling that allows for a work-life balance, which would benefit the workers, community, and employer alike.

“It’s time for the Steamship Authority to make a serious proposal that addresses workers’ concerns because it is abundantly clear that the current staffing levels and scheduling are not working for anyone.”

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