MM&P Calls For Danger/Hazard Pay For Civil Service Mariners Working “In Line of Fire”
MM&P has called once again on Military Sealift Command (MSC) to adequately compensate Civil Service mariners for the dangers many of them are now facing as they carry out their jobs.
“MM&P is very concerned about the safety of our members,” Randi Ciszewski, the union’s Government Fleet representative, told MSC officials in an e-mail exchange written on the heels of the Jan. 9 clash between USS MAHAN and a group of Iranian attack boats.
At the time of the attack, USS MAHAN was escorting fleet oiler USNS WALTER S. DIEHL, which is operated by Civil Service mariners, including licensed deck officers who belong to the MM&P Federal Employees Membership Group (FEMG).
U.S. Navy officials said in statements that four Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps boats approached to within 900 yards and did not respond to MAHAN’s attempts to make radio contact.
The destroyer responded with a progressive set of warnings including the ship’s siren, ship’s whistle, flares and a helicopter-launched smoke float.
The incident is the latest and most dramatic confrontation between Iranian and U.S. forces near the Strait of Hormuz, and it follows a pattern of high-speed approaches by Iran’s patrol craft.
In a separate incident, in October of last year USS MASON responded in kind to missile attacks from the Red Sea coast of Yemen.
According to a U.S. military spokesperson, the crew detected multiple missiles fired toward MASON, which responded with onboard countermeasures.
The guided missile destroyer was accompanying a group of ships that included USS PONCE, which is operated by licensed deck officers represented by MM&P.
“MM&P submits that Civil Service mariners in the line of fire qualify for a vessel attack bonus or other form of danger pay/differential,” Ciszewski says.
“The Navy is knowingly sending civilian workers into combat where they are facing hostile forces (aka being shot at) and they’re risking life and limb. What monetary recognition and other benefits can be awarded to these members?”
An MSC request that the Department of Defense (DOD) rule on hazard or other danger pay for Civil Service mariners is reportedly pending.
Ciszewski says she has been informed that the timeframe for filing a grievance or grievances on behalf of MM&P members assigned aboard ships experiencing hostility will be extended until DOD responds.
MM&P officials have asked MSC to immediately schedule a time to discuss the union’s concerns and negotiate over allowances, hazard bonuses or pay differentials.