Title: Employer and Union
This proceeding is in accordance with the parties’ Agreement. A hearing in this matter was held on March 8, 2000 and the record closed upon receipt by the Arbitrator of post hearing briefs on May 18, 2000. The parties stipulated the issue for decision as:
Pertinent Agreement Provisions
The mission of the Employer is to supply U.S. Naval ships with fuel and provisions while they are at sea. Some of the vessels used by the MSC to accomplish this mission have highly automated engine rooms that are unmanned by the engine crew members outside of the day shift from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
The deck crew is typically comprised of three persons per watch and is responsible for lookout, steering and safety checks of the vessel. It is uncontested that prior to the advent of automated engine rooms that the deck crew did not check or otherwise inspect the engine room while doing their safety rounds.
The Union contends that MSC has directed deck crewmen assigned to rounds to do work not performed by deck crews in the private sector or which was formerly done by engine crew members on MSC vessels. It argues this assignment of work requires the payment of one hour of overtime to the deck crew members so assigned. The Union maintains the deck crew is doing engine room work when they check the engine room for hazards during their rounds while the engine crew is absent.
The Employer contends the engine room visits during rounds by the deck crew is inherent to the duties of a watchstander. It argues it is not asking the deck crew to perform engine room work, but simply asking them to check for fire and flooding in the engine room during the 16 hour period it is unmanned each day. The Employer maintains such safety checks is precisely what the deck crew has traditionally been doing while doing rounds of the vessel.
Analysis and Conclusions
The record discloses that the precise complement of duties and responsibilities of private sector deck crews are not identical to MSC deck crews. For example, Vincent Coss testified that the deck crew of an MSC oiler does rounds while the vessel is underway but that the deck crew of comparable private vessels do not do rounds while the vessel is underway. (Tr. 123) The Arbitrator therefore concludes that performance of the deck crews responsibilities for the “safe navigation” of the vessel does sometimes vary in significant ways between the MSC and private sector vessels. Accordingly, the fact that private sector deck crew do not do rounds in the engine room cannot support a finding that premium pay is due MSC deck crew members just because the engine room was added to the rounds on MSC oilers.
The record also discloses that a deck crew member spends one third of his twice daily four hour watches on rounds of the ship looking for safety hazards such as fire and flooding. Captain Butterfield testified that only five to eight minutes of this time is required to walk the engine room to check for safety hazards such as fire and flooding. There is no evidence deck hands doing the engine room walk through are directed to engage themselves in any way with the mechanical equipment and/or control panels within the engine room. The Arbitrator therefore concludes that the work performed by the deck crew while in the engine room is “watch work” clearly contained within the job description of deck hands (U11).
Moreover, Section 610 of CMPI states clearly that deck crew members will receive overtime only if required to perform work “other than normal watch work” (U14). The Arbitrator finds no persuasive evidence that deck personnel on the vessel in question were required to perform work other than normal watch work. Accordingly, the Arbitrator concludes they are not due one hour of overtime for simply doing watch work in the engine room.
The Arbitrator is aware this conclusion differs from the opinion expressed by Marilyn Mullen in 1994 (U6). However, absent other evidence that her 1994 opinion was accepted by the parties as the way watchstanders would henceforth be compensated this single event cannot be construed as anything but the opinion of one compensation administrator. It is woefully insufficient proof of a binding past practice.
In light of the foregoing, the Arbitrator concludes the Employer was not obligated to pay overtime to the deckhand assigned to rounds which included the same safety inspection in the engine room that was done elsewhere on the vessel during rounds. Grievance denied.
1. The Military Sealift command is not obligated to pay deck crew employees overtime when they are required to perform rounds in the engine room.
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