About Us

What is the M.E.B.A.?

The Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association (M.E.B.A.) 

The Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association (M.E.B.A.) is the nation's oldest and finest maritime labor union, established in 1875. We represent a large and diverse mix of engineers and deck officers, experienced and skilled in all aspects of the maritime workforce. 

Since its founding on the banks of the Great Lakes in 1875, the M.E.B.A. has been the premier maritime labor union for the officers of the United States Merchant Marine. Today, with thousands of marine engine and deck officers, the members of the M.E.B.A. are unparalleled in maritime training and experience. We crew the most technologically advanced ships in the U.S.-flag fleet, including container ships, tankers, Great Lakes and LNG vessels as well as a cruise ship and research vessels. We sail aboard Government-contracted ships of the U.S. Navy’s Military Sealift Command and the Maritime Administration’s Ready Reserve Force, on tugs and ferry fleets around the country and in various capacities in the shoreside industries.

In the late 19th century, the forefathers of the M.E.B.A. fought to eradicate dangerous and deadly working conditions on early steam-powered vessels – conditions that threatened not only our M.E.B.A. brothers and sisters but all passengers at sea.

The heroic actions of the Merchant Marine during both World Wars galvanized the union to right other wrongs that had long endured on the sea. M.E.B.A. was the first union to bargain for a 40-hour work week while at sea. M.E.B.A. secured overtime pay and night relief, won the right to man their own hiring halls and to have union representatives visit ships to ensure proper working conditions. The tenacity and vision of M.E.B.A.’s founding members has led to the Union’s recognition as a champion of seafarer rights.

M.E.B.A. officers have continued to offer substantial contributions to our nation’s defense both in times of peace and in war.

M.E.B.A. members braved the waters of the North Atlantic and the dangers of the Murmansk run during World War II. We served in every US conflict since 1875 from Korea, Vietnam, and the Persian Gulf to Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. We brought critical food-aid to starving people in Ethiopia, Somalia and in dozens of other regions around the world. As America watched the tragedy of September 11th unfold, M.E.B.A. was there, ferrying thousands of people to safety in New York. During the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the tsunami in Southeast Asia, and countless other disasters M.E.B.A. was there, with the professionalism, pride and patriotism that has long been the hallmark of the American mariner.

M.E.B.A.’s expertise and proven track record of readiness, safety, and loyalty in answering America’s call to action is unrivaled in the world. While the future of the maritime industry is in question, one thing is certain. The members of the Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association will unceasingly fight to preserve America’s fourth arm of defense – the U.S. Merchant Marine. 


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