The Federal Mariner — The Official Publication for SIU Government Services Division Workers

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Government Services Division Membership Application and Group Life Enrollment Form

Request for Payroll Deduction for Labor Dues

Orientation Video

CSRA Notice


SIU, MSC Reach MOU on Allowances, Habitability Issues Aboard MSC-Operated Vessels

The Seafarers International Union is pleased to announce that the union and MSC have reached a comprehensive settlement that addresses and resolves outstanding habitability matters aboard MSC CIVMAR-crewed vessels currently operating in MSC’s fleet. This agreement fairly compensates unlicensed CIVMARS sailing aboard vessels where shipboard habitability conditions are overcrowded and/or inadequate.

For many years, the SIU has led the fight to ensure that MSC provide adequate, safe, clean and secure living accommodations for all CIVMARS ashore and afloat. As a result of these efforts, CIVMARS living aboard vessels with inadequate conditions are compensated with quarters pay.

Assuring adequate habitability aboard MSC vessels has been the subject of several lengthy legal battles. The first arbitration case protesting inadequate quarters was tried in 1991. At that time the NMU (which later merged into the SIU) fought for compensation for CIVMARS assigned to open berthing quarters aboard the USNS Comfort. In that case the Arbitrator awarded a $13 per day quarters allowance found in the East Coast collective bargaining agreement.

Since 1991, the union has prevailed in five vessel-related arbitrations, proving that habitability conditions were inadequate.

The issue on which Arbitrators’ rulings have differed is the amount of quarters allowance awarded to affected CIVMARS, with some Arbitrators awarding the $13 collective bargaining agreement rate and some Arbitrators awarding the updated $40 Civilian Mariner Personnel Instructions (CMPI) rate. The May 7, 2010 MOU establishes a quarters allowance rate aboard a covered vessel when more than three crewmembers are assigned to any berthing room or area.

The settlement also resolves all outstanding legal matters, including exceptions filed by both parties pending before the Federal Labor Relations Authority.
These exceptions are appeals for the $13 Grasp award and the $40 Comfort award.

The settlement brings industrial stability to our labor-management relationship with MSC and will allow resources to be used for other, important representation efforts on behalf of unlicensed CIVMARS.

Additionally, the union preserved the current $30 per day quarters allowance aboard the four A-OE vessels (Supply, Bridge, Arctic and Rainier) even though these ships are scheduled to undergo habitability upgrades over the next few years.

The $30 quarters allowance will also be applicable to the sub-tenders (Emory Land and Frank Cable) and the hospital ships (Comfort and Mercy).

The settlement also ensures that CIVMARS sailing aboard three ARS vessels (Grasp, Grapple and Salvor) will receive similar quarters allowances. While there will be a minor downward adjustment of the current quarters allowance aboard the USS Mt. Whitney, the union believes that this overall settlement benefits the majority of the CIVMARS assigned to any ship where living conditions are less than adequate.

Another very important component of this settlement is the establishment of a Labor-Management Habitability Committee, which guarantees the union pre-decisional involvement on habitability conversion plans and other related issues. This includes early involvement in plans for any Navy vessel acquired by MSC or new vessels which may be built for MSC’s CIVMAR fleet in the future.

The union recognizes that the acquisition, transfer and conversion of former military vessels to the CIVMAR fleet has created and will continue to create a significant number of permanent jobs for our bargaining unit members. We welcome the work these ships bring and together, with MSC mariners, we will continue the fight to ensure that all CIVMARS are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve for their hard work, dedication and their efforts to carry out the mission of the Military Sealift Command.

Lastly, the union and the MSFSC have completed a separate, comprehensive agreement covering the inspection of hotel quarters to which CIVMARS may be assigned ashore. The union has been seeking input into the selection of hotels since 2007. The union brought its case before the Federal Services Impasse Panel.

In July, prior to the scheduled impasse proceeding, MSC agreed to allow the union to inspect hotels and submit comments prior to hotel selections. With both these agreements in place, the union will now have complete access to information about CIVMAR quarters afloat and ashore, ensuring that advocacy efforts will begin early and continue aggressively to ensure
that quarters are adequate.

The terms of the Habitability Settlement and the new quarters allowance rates are detailed below. Please review this information. Contact your SIU Government Services Division representatives if there are any questions or concerns.


MSC will continue to pay a $30 quarters allowance aboard all T-AOE class vessels, even when habitability upgrades are completed aboard these ships.


USNS Grapple: Back pay award has been paid in accordance with Arbitrator Herzog’s 2010 award. Beginning May 7, 2010 a $40 per day quarters allowance will be paid to CIVMARS assigned to rooms or open berthing space with three or more CIVMARS in a room.

USNS Grasp: In accordance with Arbitrator Canada’s 2007 award, CIVMARS assigned to four person rooms receive $13 per day. CIVMARS assigned to three-person rooms receive no quarters allowance. Beginning May 7, 2010 a $35 per day quarters allowance will be paid to CIVMARS assigned to quarters sleeping three or more CIVMARS in a room or open berthing space.

USNS Salvor: CIVMARS assigned to quarters with three or more to a room or open berthing space will receive a $40 quarters allowance back pay retroactive to June 2007. From May 7, 2010 forward, CIVMARS assigned to quarters with three or more persons to a room will receive a quarters allowance of $35 per day.


USNS Comfort:
2007 Voyage: CIVMARS will be paid $40 per day quarters allowance in accordance with Arbitrator Williams’s award.

2009 and 2010 Voyages:; CIVMARS assigned to any berthing area with three or more persons will be paid $30 per day quarters allowance.

USNS Mercy:
2008 and 2010 Voyages: CIVMARS assigned to berthing areas with three or more persons will be paid quarters allowance at the rate of $30 per day.


USS Mt. Whitney: CIVMARS quartered more than three persons to a room or berthing area will receive a $30 per day quarters allowance.

No quarters allowance will be paid to CIVMARS assigned to two-person rooms.

To be eligible for quarters allowance CIVMARS must sleep on board the vessel.