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Mayor Adams, OLR Commissioner Campion Announce Contract to Ensure Fair Wages, More Flexible Scheduling for Staten Island Ferry Workers

September 4, 2023

Contract Is Union’s First with the City in More Than a Decade

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NEW YORK – New York City Mayor Eric Adams and Office of Labor Relations (OLR) Commissioner Renee Campion today announced that the City of New York has reached an agreement with the Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association (MEBA), the union representing Staten Island Ferry licensed officers. The contract — reached through mediation and ratified by MEBA membership on Friday with 94 percent support — is the first one the city has reached with the union since 2010. With this contract, the city has now settled all represented groups for the 2010-2017 round of bargaining, and 81.3 percent of all represented groups for the current round of bargaining.

The contract is retroactive, beginning on November 7, 2010, and expires on January 4, 2027. It provides pattern-conforming wage increases to captains, assistant captains, and mates consistent with the 2010-2017, 2017-2021, and 2021-2026 civilian union patterns. Further, marine engineers and chief marine engineers will receive retroactive wage increases consistent with the prevailing wage determination issued by the New York City comptroller earlier this year. The contract also establishes new salary rates and a 40-hour workweek effective October 1, 2023 — an increase from the current 32-hour work week — as well as a five-step salary schedule for all MEBA employees hired or promoted after October 1, 2023. The parties have also agreed that all MEBA-represented employees will be allowed to take vacation in one-week blocks instead of two-week blocks, providing greater flexibility for these workers.

“Today, we thank our tireless ferry workers, not just with words — but with a contract that delivers the fair wages and benefits they deserve,” said Mayor Adams. “Our nation has been suffering from a shortage of marine workers. We know that to attract and retain a talented workforce we must offer competitive wages and benefits that everyone can agree on. Thanks to this agreement, both our ferry workers and the working people of Staten Island can continue to ride forward without worry or interruptions. I want to thank our mediator, Al Viani, and our indefatigable Office of Labor Relations Commissioner Renee Campion for their efforts in reaching this historic moment.”

“The Adams administration continues to put working people first, and this contract with MEBA — the first in more than a decade — underscores our critical partnership with labor,” said City Hall Chief Counsel Lisa Zornberg. “This contract is fair to the people who run the Staten Island ferry system day in and day out, and will also ensure reliable service for the commuters who depend on it. This contract would not have been possible without the tireless efforts of our Office of Labor Relations Commissioner Renee Campion and the mediator, Al Viani.”

“Thank you to MEBA Secretary-Treasurer Roland Rexha and mediator Al Viani for working tirelessly with us to reach this agreement,” said OLR Commissioner Campion. “We are extremely pleased we were able to settle this contract and finally get these employees raises going back more than 10 years, which will also help us better recruit and retain these valuable workers and ensure our Staten Island ferry system continues to be a vital part of our public transportation system.”

“Today, the Adams administration brings closure to an over a decade-long labor negotiation, during which the men and women who are responsible for the safe passage of thousands of daily Staten Island Ferry passengers continued to steer the ship,” said Deputy Mayor for Operations Meera Joshi. “This represents another important milestone in this administration’s unprecedented labor negotiation accomplishments, which cumulatively are bringing certainty, better wages, and better working conditions to tens of thousands of committed public servants, whose daily work is at the core of what makes New York City the best in the world.” 

“Each year, the Staten Island Ferry transports over 12 million passengers between Staten Island and Manhattan. Completing these trips safely and on time requires a skilled and dedicated team, including the members of the Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association,” said New York City Department of Transportation Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez. “That is why it is important that the members of MEBA have a fair contract. I want to thank Mayor Adams, OLR Commissioner Renee Campion, MEBA Secretary-Treasurer Roland Rexha, and my colleagues across city government who helped us secure a new contract that respects workers and will help provide passengers with the high level of service they deserve.”

“Throughout two previous administrations, it often felt like City Hall and the MEBA were sailing on separate courses. However, today, we proudly announce that we have finally brought this contract to dock,” said MEBA Secretary-Treasurer Roland Rexha. “This achievement is due in part to having a mayor who truly values the hard work of our members and comprehends the challenges our mariners face day in and day out. Mayor Adams, a blue-collar mayor who gets things done, has been instrumental in making this contract a reality. On this Labor Day in 2023, we have achieved a remarkable feat — transforming the lowest paid ferry jobs in the nation into the highest paid. This accomplishment was made possible by our members transitioning to a 40-hour work week, providing immediate relief, and resolving staffing shortages. Now, New York City can offer the reliable service that Staten Islanders truly deserve. As the arteries and veins that keep this city's blood flowing, whether through rail, bus, or ferry, we recognize that New York City is the greatest city in the world. It was built upon the foundation of its exceptional public transportation system, which serves millions daily.” 

“This agreement has been one of the most complex and difficult that I have ever had to deal with in my fifty-plus years of labor relations experience,” said mediator Al Viani. “I commend the city’s representative, Renee Campion, and her staff and the union’s representative, Roland Rexha, and his staff for making the necessary compromises to reach a successful conclusion. This agreement is in the best interests of the city and the Staten Island ferryboat workers. It will ensure safe, reliable, and stable ferryboat service for years to come.” 

The total cost of the agreement through Fiscal Year 2027 will be $103 million, for an additional cost of $53 million. This additional funding will be reflected in future financial plans.
The contract includes:

  • Changes in Scheduling Policies: Effective October 1, 2023, all MEBA-represented titles will work a 40-hour workweek in four 10-hour shifts, an increase over the previous 32-hour workweeks to provide greater productivity to the city. In addition, employees will have the option of taking vacation in one-week blocks, instead of two-week blocks under the previous contract.
  • Five-Step Salary Schedule for All Employees: Effective October 1, 2023, every MEBA-represented employee hired or promoted after that date will have a five-step salary schedule.

 Captains, assistant captains, and mates will receive the following compounded and retroactive wage increases:

  • May 7, 2012 – 1.00%
  • May 7, 2013 – 1.00%
  • May 7, 2014 – 1.00%
  • May 7, 2015 – 1.50%
  • May 7, 2016 – 2.50%
  • May 7, 2017 – 3.056%
  • November 7, 2017 – 2.00%
  • November 7, 2018 – 2.25%
  • December 7, 2019 – 3.25%
  • July 5, 2021 – 3.00%
  • July 5, 2022 – 3.00%
  • July 5, 2023 – 3.00%
  • July 5, 2024 – 3.00%
  • July 5, 2025 – 3.25%

 “The ferry is an essential 24 hours a day service for countless Staten Islanders,” said New York State Senator Jessica Scarcella-Spanton. “The men and women who keep it running deserve a contract that reflects the necessity of their work. I thank the mayor for working with the Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association to give them the fair wages and flexible scheduling that they deserve.”
“Today's announcement ensures the contributions of the Staten Island ferry workers are duly recognized and rewarded,” said New York State Assemblymember Charles D. Fall. “Fair wages are not a privilege but a fundamental right for those who provide such a critical service to our city. These workers have long been the unsung heroes of our transportation system, working diligently year-round to keep our city connected. Their dedication is evident in their tireless efforts, often in challenging weather conditions, transporting passengers to and from Staten Island. This contract agreement is a testament to our commitment in recognizing and valuing the labor of the Staten Island Ferry licensed officers.”

“Finally. We are very pleased that negotiations between the city and the Marine Engineer’s Beneficial Association were successful, and the contract dispute has finally been resolved,” said Staten Island Borough President Vito Fossella. “After more than thirteen years in the making, we are thankful that ferry service can finally return to normal, and that the employees and the city are satisfied with the resolution. Mayor Adams gave us his word that he was going to step in to resolve the ferry dispute, and we want to thank him for following through successfully on his commitment. Additionally, this is very good news for our ferry commuters, who endured some disruptions as a result of these negotiations and now can be sure this impediment is behind them.”

“To most people, Labor Day simply marks the end of another summer, but it’s actually the one day a year our country sets aside to honor and celebrate the hardworking women and men who stood up for so many of the rights we take for granted today. So today, I'm especially thankful the city has finally reached an agreement with the mighty Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association because 13 years without a contract is just too damn long,” said New York City Councilmember Justin Brannan. “This is also a modern-day labor agreement for our nation's oldest maritime labor union that not only includes crucial retroactive wage increases but also takes into account and significantly improves the work-life balance for hardworking union families with a 40-hour workweek and more flexible vacation schedules. Over the past few years, I’ve gotten to know the captains, assistant captains, mates, engineers, and chief engineers on the Staten Island ferry. They are saltwater of the earth people who work hard and fight hard for what they deserve. I’m grateful that the Office of Labor Relations did right by them because New York City is a union town and we value hard work here. Whether it’s the 8-hour workday, weekends, minimum wage, and overtime pay or safe workplace laws, Social Security, Medicare, and retirement plans — none of these things would have been possible without the sacrifice and leadership of the American labor movement. Never underestimate the power of the people and never underestimate the power of organized labor.”

“I am thrilled that a fair contract was agreed to by the City of New York and MEBA. Our Staten Island ferry workers keep this critical mode of transportation running and safe, and they deserve the fair wages and scheduling flexibility this contract provides,” said New York City Councilmember Kamillah M. Hanks. “This retroactive contract is a significant milestone, marking the city’s commitment to equitable compensation and enhanced work-life balance for Staten Island ferry workers. It stands as a testament to our dedication to the well-being of our workforce and the value of fair labor relations.”


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