LET THE PEOPLE HAVE THEIR PFDS
By ARTHUR MARTIN
EDITOR, POW REPORT
The Juneau Empire reported Wednesday that the Department of Transportation intends to sell the fast ferries F/V Fairweather and Chenega in the coming months.
Ferry staff will be reassigned without any expected job losses, although they will technically be laid off this month.
The newspaper reported officials saying the state will begin operating at least one new ship this year, the F/V Tazlina, and expects to save about $400,000 in fuel costs by retiring the 15-year-old Fairweather.
Let’s be frank here for a moment: The Alaska Marine Highway System’s union model is outdated and once again shows how the tyranny of a small fraction of overpaid public employees are terrorizing the majority of us who barely make ends meet from month to month.
That’s the truth. I worked for the AMHS for one week. My entire job was to make sandwiches and salads and I was earning $21+ an hour.
Does that make sense to you?
During that week I also racked up a bunch of overtime and my paycheck for that week was more than most people make in a month.
Does that seem fair to you?
I was the bottom rung-entry level position employee, so, take a moment to imagine how much the rest are paid.
I wrote an editorial here responding to a citizen who made the crazy claim that “oversized PFD payments the governor proposes will harm Alaska…”
Read that again: “oversized PFD payments the governor proposes will harm Alaska…”
Let’s take our emotions out of the budget argument for a few seconds. Southeast, Alaska and Prince of Wales Island in particular has the highest unemployment rate in the state. We also have the lowest income in the entire state.
So, when it comes to getting $3,000 dollars in the Fall vs $0 because a minority of over-paid state employees want to keep their cushy jobs, the answer for what makes a difference to the poor and under-paid Islanders is easy:
$3,000 makes a huge difference.
When is the last time you used the Alaska Marine Highway? Once in the last five years? Does that merit you losing $3,000 a year?
Now, I get our kids use the ferry system for sporting events, however the kids in sports are a minority of the school population. Is it worth your child losing $3,000 for someone else’s kid to go to a basketball tournament in Petersburg?
These are all fact-based questions that we should be asking ourselves instead of getting emotional because you read some article from a newspaper and heard some talking points from a paid news anchor.
The AMHS, needs to change. And it will be difficult. It’s better to make the hard decisions now then keep kicking the hard decisions down the road like cowards.
The fast ferries should never have been built. We all know this. They cost too much, can’t navigate the channels efficiently, and are run by over-paid employees who constantly complain they don’t get paid enough.
As far as i’m concerned, good riddance! I’ll take my $3,000 dividend so I can pay off my credit card after paying to get my car fixed that broke down unexpectedly. Nobody expects me to get a bailout, so why does the AMHS expect the same?
Arthur Martin is the editor of POW Report on Prince of Wales Island.