A new six-year agreement is in place for Seafarers employed at VanEnkevort Tug & Barge, Inc. (VTB). Members overwhelmingly ratified the pact through a combination of shipboard and remote voting in April.
The contract took effect April 1 and lasts through March 2028. It calls for annual wage increases for the first three years and then a wage and benefit reopener in April 2025. The pact boosts company contributions to the Seafarers Money Purchase Pension Plan (SMPPP), maintains health benefits, and also preserves the Paul Hall Center benefit for training and upgrading.
SIU Assistant Vice President Bryan Powell and Port Agent Todd Brdak negotiated on behalf of the union.
Nearly 50 Seafarers are employed by VTB. They work aboard four state-of-the-art articulated tug-barge units on the Great Lakes, primarily hauling taconite and stone.
VTB was founded in 1967.
Conveyorman Chris Heffernan said maintaining health care coverage and securing yearly wage increases for the first three years are the contract’s highlights.
OS Joshua Childers said he values the boost to the SMPPP “and how every year, there will be pay raises. This was a good step forward, working towards what everybody wants.”
Powell stated, “This agreement provides a robust wage package and various other enhancements for our members working for VTB. It is a fair and reasonable package both for the members and company, which is always the goal.”