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Thanks to unions like M.E.B.A., American mariners enjoy more job security, higher salaries and safer working conditions than foreign shipping workers, as well as generous vacation pay, healthcare, and retirement benefits.

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The U.S. Merchant Marine provides tens of thousands of stable, secure and well-paid jobs that are unparalleled in the global maritime industry and guarantee a steady stream of employment opportunities for Americans. It’s due to unions like the Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association (M.E.B.A) that the U.S. industry can stay ahead of the curve. M.E.B.A. fights tenaciously for its members’ rights and economic well-being, safeguarding the future prosperity of their families, communities and the national economy.

About The Marine Engineers Beneficial Association (M.E.B.A.)

The Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association (M.E.B.A.) is the nation’s oldest and finest maritime labor union, established in 1875. They represent a large and diverse mix of engineers and deck officers, experienced and skilled in all aspects of the maritime workforce. Since its founding on the banks of the Great Lakes in 1875, the M.E.B.A. has been the premier maritime labor union for the officers of the United States Merchant Marine. Today, with thousands of marine engine and deck officers, the members of the M.E.B.A. are unparalleled in maritime training and experience. They crew the most technologically advanced ships in the U.S.-flag fleet, including container ships, tankers, Great Lakes and LNG vessels as well as a cruise ship and research vessels.

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Thanks to unions like M.E.B.A, American mariners enjoy more job security, higher salaries and safer working conditions than foreign shipping workers, as well as generous vacation pay, healthcare, and retirement benefits. They also have access to a wide variety of jobs representing many sectors of the nation’s economy. M.E.B.A.’s approximately 4,000 active members can find employment that fits their location and skills — from shipping ports to landlocked cities, and from deep-sea crews to logistics and human resources.

American mariners also have greater protection from hazardous on-the-job situations that often arise in their arduous line of work. When the Covid-19 pandemic began, for instance, lockdowns and foreign port closures prevented many carriers from rotating their crews, potentially resulting in many mariners remaining on board their ships for months longer than expected. In order to avoid the hardship, fatigue and medical issues that this would inevitably cause, M.E.B.A. worked tirelessly to ensure that every option was exhausted to prevent its members from remaining onboard any longer than necessary. Meanwhile, many mariners on foreign-flagged ships weren’t so fortunate.

Union members are better prepared to navigate unexpected circumstances like port closures because M.E.B.A. sends them to its continuing education school, exposing them to the most knowledgeable and proficient maritime instructors in the industry. The Calhoon M.E.B.A. Engineering School in Maryland allows cadets to obtain real-world experience with cutting-edge technology, while veteran mariners can update their government-required certifications and fine-tune their expertise to meet the extreme challenges of today’s shipping environment. The free access to schooling keeps mariners from having to find training on their own. It also ensures that members have the highest degree of professionalism, which helps U.S.-flagged carriers log the lowest levels of lost time in the industry.

Perhaps most importantly, many American mariners feel like they’re part of an extended family. M.E.B.A. has its members’ backs, using its novel Good and Welfare Fund to provide financial relief to those who fall on hard times. When Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy damaged and destroyed American mariners’ homes, the Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association helped them rebuild. When the widow of a mariner lost the ability to make her mortgage payments, M.E.B.A. came through to support her. When retired mariners are stricken with a terminal illness, the union provides monetary relief — in addition to top-notch healthcare — so they can live more comfortably.

Additionally, as part of its fierce commitment to its members, the union has dedicated itself towards embracing diversity and inclusion. All of these benefits give U.S. mariners the job security and high standard of living they need to provide for their families and live prosperous lives — strengthening the social fabric of our nation and ensuring the shipping industry’s vital contribution to our economic growth.

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