Last week, New York City reached an agreement with the Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association (MEBA), the union representing Staten Island Ferry workers, to ratify a new collective bargaining agreement. The contract is the first since 2010 and is retroactive to November 2010.
Unfortunately, the Staten Island Ferry workers’ experience is not unique.
In April, the Police Benevolent Association finally negotiated a contract with the New York Police Department after seven years of trying. And last year, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey reached an agreement with unions after over a decade.
It is common in New York City and elsewhere for union members to be left waiting for years without a contract. In fact, after a union is first certified, it can take over 400 days to ratify the first contract, not to mention future contracts.
Some workers never see a contract.
The Staten Island Ferry workers serve as an important reminder that collective bargaining is a lengthy process. And while unions continue raking in membership dues, members may not realize benefits for years or at all.