SIU, MSFSC Reach Agreement on New S&Q Policy for CIVMARS Pending Disciplinary Procedures

November 2010

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At the request of the SIU Government Services Division, Assistant Vice President Chet Wheeler met with Military Sealift Fleet Support Command (MSFSC) representatives to negotiate a comprehensive policy regarding subsistence and quarters (S&Q) eligibility for CIVMARS facing disciplinary action.


The union requested the negotiations to achieve the equal treatment of East and West coast CIVMARS who are pending discipline. For decades, only West Coast CIVMARS were eligible for S&Q while pending disciplinary action. The eligibility difference between East and West coast CIVMARS arose prior to the merger of the SIU and NMU (which took place in June 2001).


The negotiations were conducted in Suffolk, Va. The discussions were combined with the negotiations for Civilian Marine Personnel Instruction (CMPI) 750, Military Sealift Command’s Discipline Instruction.


The parties used interest-based bargaining (IBB) negotiations, similar to the process being used in the CMPI 610 negotiations. IBB is a collaborative negotiating method of identifying interests and seeking solutions which address those interests.


The week-long negotiations, while lengthy and heated at times, were very productive. Issues that have remained unresolved for years are now addressed in this comprehensive agreement.


The new policy, equalizing S&Q pay for CIVMARS pending discipline allows almost all unlicensed CIVMARS awaiting disciplinary action to report to the customer service unit or CSU (the “pool”) if they choose, or take leave. If the CIVMAR does report to the CSU, he or she is eligible to receive S&Q from the time he or she reports until the date of the oral or written reply.


S&Q eligibility will end on the day following the oral or written reply, whichever occurs last. However, in such cases, S&Q shall not extend beyond 21 days after the receipt of the notice of proposed disciplinary action. Extensions may be granted by the MSFSC on a case-by-case basis for good cause and will not be arbitrarily denied.


If a CIVMAR chooses not to reply to the charge, eligibility for S&Q ends one day following the conclusion of the reply period. The MSFSC will issue a decision on the charge within 20 days. If the decision is not issued during that period, CIVMAR eligibility for S&Q will resume until a decision is issued. This significantly helps CIVMARS because the time they will wait for a decision on the disciplinary action may be substantially reduced.


Another positive change involves CIVMAR assignments. Prior to receiving a decision regarding the notice of disciplinary action, CIVMARS may elect to remain in a duty status. At the discretion of the MSFSC, CIVMARS awaiting a decision may be considered for shipboard assignment, training, available for medical examinations, or other duty status-related assignments or tasks.


These negotiations also involved licensed CIVMARS represented by the International Organization of Masters, Mates and Pilots and Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association Government Fleet Representative Randi Ciszewski, who has invoked arbitration over the issue of S&Q eligibility for licensed CIVMARS. To achieve an equitable outcome, representatives from the three maritime unions conferred about the policy objectives during the negotiations. The MM&P and MEBA had not concluded their negotiations as this edition of the LOG went to press. The MOU however contains language which requires that should the S&Q policy for licensed CIVMARS be altered to provide S&Q from the beginning of the disciplinary period through the final decision, unlicensed CIVMARS will be afforded the same benefit.


The following categories of CIVMARS will not be eligible for S&Q while they are pending disciplinary action:


A. CIVMARS who report for duty who are not assignable and are not ready, willing and able to work in accordance with the Notice to CIVMARS regarding S&Q Allowance of 22 April 2009;


B. CIVMARS in a trial period, temporary or intermittent appointment status;


C. CIVMARS who maintain a residence within the local commuting area of the CSU.


Leading the Seafarers negotiating team was Assistant Vice President Wheeler. He was assisted by Counsel Deborah Kleinberg and Associate Counsel Jonathan Madden. Leading the MSFSC negotiating team was Kathleen Giacolone, Director of Labor and Employee Relations DFWP Benefits and Services Division. Also serving on the MSFSC team were Constance Halleen, Branch Head, Labor and Employee Relations; Patricia MacDonald, Labor and Employee Relations Specialist; Purser Susan Myron and MSFSC Counsel Alana Mayer. Andrew Lefebvre represented MSC Headquarters. Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service Mediator Karen Kline facilitated the IBB negotiations for both CMPI 750 and S&Q entitlement.


This new policy will go into effect on Jan. 30, 2011. The parties agreed to meet six months after implementation to review the new policy and identify any issues or problems which may have resulted from the implementation. The MOU is now posted on the SIU web site and will be posted at the CSU. CIVMARS can also receive a copy by sending a request to their Government Services Division representative.


CIVMARS who are facing disciplinary charges are strongly encouraged to seek assistance from their SIU Government Services Division representative.

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