SIU boatmen employed by E.N. Bisso & Son have approved a new three-year contract highlighted by annual wage increases.
Negotiations took place Nov. 19-20 in Kenner, Louisiana, followed by ratification on the boats Nov. 20-29. The pact was approved by an overwhelming majority, according to SIU New Orleans Port Agent Chris Westbrook, who headed up the union’s negotiating committee.
Rounding out the SIU bargaining group were Engineer Todd Rabalais, Wheelman Nick Narvaez, Deckhand Jacob Toler and Engineer Kevin Wells.
The contract covers 70 Seafarers who operate the company’s 13 boats in ship-docking and offshore towing. The agreement maintains health benefits at the top level (Core Plus), adds a holiday, and boosts vacation days for longer-tenured employees. It also increases incentive pay with certain manning scales. Wells stated, “Negotiations went well and everybody is pleased with the outcome. As far as the SIU and E.N. Bisso, I’m pretty sure we’re going to have a bright future together – move forward and continue to get better.”
He added, “Bisso was willing to listen; it wasn’t a fight. They understand what we needed, and their willingness to work with the SIU and the employees were the best parts of the experience. The future looks bright, and also, hats off to Chris. He worked hard and did an excellent job.”
Narvaez said the contract’s highlights included getting an extra holiday and increased pay for wheelmen. He described the negotiating sessions as “cordial, professional. Everything went okay.”
Westbrook credited the committee for its work.
“We set out with some specific objectives and were able to attain them,” he said. “We collected suggestion forms from the members along with delegate election sheets, and put a clear proposal forward. This was really a fantastic committee; they did a tremendous job putting the issues on the table and making valid points.”
Westbrook continued, “The contract shows that the company really appreciates the value of tenure and the stability of the workforce. They used to have a lot of turnover, but they’re now on par with our other inland companies in terms of employee retention. Bisso did a great job stepping up to the plate to really show they value the employees and they want to retain and attract qualified, professional mariners. You’ve got to applaud them for that.”
Comments are closed.