Labor Union

Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association

The Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association (MEBA) is a labor union affiliated with the AFL-CIO that represents licensed mariners on U.S.-flagged merchant ships. As of 2019, MEBA reported a total of 24,448 members. [1]

Since its foundation, MEBA has financially supported and endorsed Democratic politicians for elected office along with Republican politicians who support protectionist legislation. The union has faced criticism for lobbying in favor of protectionist legislation to preserve mariner wages and employment at the expense of American consumers. [2][3]

In 1995, MEBA leaders, including a former MEBA president, were convicted on the charge of racketeering after extorting funding from members. [4]

History

MEBA formed in 1875 after the merge of several local labor unions of marine engineers. MEBA originally formed to promote safer conditions for steamboat workers and is the oldest maritime labor union in America. [5]

In 1966, MEBA created the Calhoon Engineering School to continue the effects of Operation Leap, a MEBA program created to quickly train high school graduates to meet the shortage of marine engineers during the Vietnam War. The school continues to offer marine engineer training and certificate programs for both MEBA and non-MEBA members. [6]

American Maritime Congress

The American Maritime Congress is a nonprofit organization that performs research on behalf of MEBA to aid in the union’s collective bargaining and lobbying efforts. [7] MEBA president Henry Ainley and other MEBA board members also sit as board members for the American Maritime Congress. In 2018, the American Maritime Congress reported revenue of $1,000,863. [8]

Protectionist Legislation

Aside from aiding maritime workers in collective bargaining efforts, MEBA has been involved in left-of-center lobbying in favor of protectionist legislation since the early 1900s.

Jones Act

The Merchant Marine Act of 1920, otherwise known as the Jones Act, mandates that vessels used for transport between American ports must be made and owned by Americans and have a crew that consists of at least 75% American citizens. Despite criticisms that the bill damages American consumers and restricts maritime aid during natural disasters, MEBA and the American Maritime Congress support the Jones Act, claiming that it protects national security. [9] MEBA has lobbied extensively to protect the legislation, endorsing candidates, such as 2020 Democratic nominee Joe Biden, who profess support of the Jones Act. [10]

Cargo Preference Laws

Cargo preference laws require that all government-financed cargo ships are owned by Americans. MEBA has extensively advocated to protect cargo preference laws, claiming that the laws are vital to American ship operators. [11][12] Critics have argued that cargo preference laws cause a lack of competition that has resulted in a decrease in production, lower quality of service among cargo ships, and an inability of the American cargo industry to adapt to market changes. [13]

Racketeering Convictions

In December of 1994, MEBA official Donald Kenneth Masingo pleaded guilty to labor racketeering and conspiracy charges. As part of his plea, Masingo later testified against four other MEBA officials on extortion charges related to union activities in United States v. C. Eugene “Gene” Defries, et al. [14] The officials made fake ballots to allow them to maintain control over union elections and misappropriated union property and funds for personal gain. Each convicted official had to pay restitution to the union, including interest, and all but Masingo were sentenced to prison terms. [15]

Financials

In 2018, MEBA reported $226,230 in total revenue, almost all of which came from membership dues. [16] [17] That same year, MEBA reported $226,780 in total expenses, most of which were classified as payments to affiliated organizations. [18]

Between the 2012 and 2020 election cycles, MEBA donated $2,594,938 to Democratic congressional campaigns and $723,880 to Republican congressional campaigns. [19]

References

  1. Marine Engineers AFL-CIO (DOL File Number 000-140), Annual Report of a Labor Organization (Form LM-3), 2019, Schedule 19 https://olmsapps.dol.gov/query/orgReport.do ^
  2. Carey, Teresa. “The Jones Act, Explained (and What Waiving It Means for Puerto Rico),” September 29, 2017. https://www.pbs.org/newshour/nation/jones-act-explained-waiving-means-puerto-rico. ^
  3. Glass, Pamela. “Made in the USA: The Jones Act.” WorkBoat, September 4, 2020. https://www.workboat.com/news/government/trump-biden-support-the-jones-act/.    ^
  4. Shorrock, Tim. “JURY CONVICTS EX-UNION LEADERS OF RACKETEERING DEFENSE LAWYER VOWS AN APPEAL.” Jury Convicts Ex-Union Leaders of Racketeering Defense Lawyer Vows an Appeal, July 6, 1995. https://www.joc.com/jury-convicts-ex-union-leaders-racketeering-defense-lawyer-vows-appeal_19950706.html. ^
  5. “MEBA History.” MEBA Union. Accessed November 4, 2020. http://www.mebaunion.org/about-us/meba-history/. ^
  6. “School History.” Calhoon MEBA Engineering School. Accessed November 4, 2020. https://www.mebaschool.org/about-us/school-history. ^
  7. Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990). American Maritime Congress. 2018. Part I, Line 1. ^
  8. Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990). American Maritime Congress. 2018. Part I, line 12. ^
  9. Carey, Teresa. “The Jones Act, Explained (and What Waiving It Means for Puerto Rico),” September 29, 2017. https://www.pbs.org/newshour/nation/jones-act-explained-waiving-means-puerto-rico. ^
  10. Glass, Pamela. “Made in the USA: The Jones Act.” WorkBoat, September 4, 2020. https://www.workboat.com/news/government/trump-biden-support-the-jones-act/. ^
  11. “Cargo Preference / Food Aid Issues.” AMERICAN MARITIME CONGRESS, January 9, 2020. http://americanmaritime.org/cargo-preference-food-aid-issues/. ^
  12. “Cargo Preference.” MEBA Union. Accessed November 2, 2020. http://www.mebaunion.org/cargo-preference/. ^
  13. Gitomer, Charles S., and C. Ford Runge. CARGO PREFERENCE IS BAD POLICY, June 28, 1990. https://www.joc.com/cargo-preference-bad-policy_19900628.html. ^
  14. “Union Official Pleads Guilty in Marine Engineers Beneficial Association Case.” Justice. United States Government. Accessed November 2, 2020. https://www.justice.gov/archive/opa/pr/Pre_96/December94/716.txt.html.[/note] Masingo and the other officials, including former MEBA presidents Clayton Defries and Alexander Cullison, were found guilty of committing mail fraud and extortion to enrich themselves. [note]Shorrock, Tim. “JURY CONVICTS EX-UNION LEADERS OF RACKETEERING DEFENSE LAWYER VOWS AN APPEAL.” Jury Convicts Ex-Union Leaders of Racketeering Defense Lawyer Vows an Appeal, July 6, 1995. https://www.joc.com/jury-convicts-ex-union-leaders-racketeering-defense-lawyer-vows-appeal_19950706.html. ^
  15. Shorrock, Tim. “JURY CONVICTS EX-UNION LEADERS OF RACKETEERING DEFENSE LAWYER VOWS AN APPEAL.” Jury Convicts Ex-Union Leaders of Racketeering Defense Lawyer Vows an Appeal, July 6, 1995.  https://www.joc.com/jury-convicts-ex-union-leaders-racketeering-defense-lawyer-vows-appeal_19950706.html. ^
  16. “Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association.” Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax, Form 990. 2018.Part I, Line 12. ^
  17. “Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association.” Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax, Form 990. 2018.Part IX, Line 21. ^
  18. “Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association.” Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax, Form 990. 2018. Part IX, Line 21. ^
  19. “Organization Profiles.” OpenSecrets. Center for Responsive Politics. Accessed November 2, 2020. https://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/marine-engineers-beneficial-assn/recipients?toprecipscycle=2020.   ^
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