400 Alaskan Ferry Workers Walk Off The Job To Protest Their Contract, Shutting Down A Key Transportation Network During Peak Season
(THE GULF OF ALASKA) - Four hundred Workers who operate the 13 ferries in coastal communities along the Gulf of Alaska walked off the job, shutting down a key transportation network during peak season.
Members of the Inlandboatmen’s Union (IBU), including Cooks, Deckhands, Engine Workers and Pursers, tied up their ships in harbor and set up picket lines in ports like Ketichikan, Juneau, Kodiak, and Valdez.
Some carried homemade signs with the IBU logo and the slogan: “We Believe in Ferries.”
The Strike completely shut down the system within 24 hours, as ships arrived in port.
The State has already had to pay upwards of $2 million in refunds to people who are unable to use their tickets.
Some Members of the Unions that aren’t on Strike - the Masters, Mates, and Pilots and the Marine Engineers Beneficial Association - are on-board the ferries, supposedly ready to go at any time if a crew assembles.
Supervisors have been trying to pressure individual Strikers to sign a paper saying they’ll resume work, sometimes claiming there’s a full crew of picket line crossers on the ship already - but the Strikers have been able to call their allies in the other Unions and get firsthand reassurance that’s a lie.
Ferry Workers stress their Strike is over their contract, not the cuts to the system - but the Strike comes in the middle of a crisis over the future of Alaskan ferries.
The Workers are facing huge budget cuts - set to lay off half of them and eliminate winter ferry service to many communities - and threats that the whole system will be privatized.
With routes running from the Aleutian Islands to the city of Prince Rupert, in Canada’s British Columbia, and south to Bellingham, Washington, the ferry system is an artery for commerce in communities that have limited or no other transit options.
Many towns are completely inaccessible by road - leaving only ferries, industrial barges, and planes, which is more expensive and not an option for transporting many goods and personal vehicles.
To Continue Reading This Labor News Story, Go To: https://labornotes.org/2019/08/we-believe-ferries-alaska-ferry-workers-walk-job