Ferry workers ponder strike - Must Read Alaska
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Friday, October 22, 2021
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Ferry workers ponder strike

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The Inland Boatman’s Union hasn’t actually taken a strike vote since earlier this year, although it’s been negotiating a contract with the state since way back in the Walker Administration.

The ferry workers’ union could, however, take that vote at any time, now that it has decided it can’t get any more concessions from the State of Alaska. That’s the leak, anyway. The union has begun to negotiate via the media.

Once a strike vote takes place, ferries get tied up, cargo and passengers get stranded, food spoils, building materials can’t make it on time, and Alaskans will realize how much they are held hostage by state employees who run the ferries.

We pulled a list of typical wages for job classifications on the ferry system. These are enviable jobs, and the list doesn’t include the signing bonuses or the generous benefits. Workers often work two weeks on, with two weeks off, and make money whether or not they are on a four-hour shift.

Note, the wage-and-hour schedules are exceedingly complicated. This chart is only a surface-skimming example:

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • I worked on the ferries. My husband worked on the ferries. My father worked on the ferries. These are jobs on the sea. You can’t just go home at the end of the day. You are at work ALL THE TIME. You get callouts during your time off. Sometimes you go for hours with no breaks. You are only off shift when you get off the ship and someone boards to replace you for one week or two weeks. Most stewards department workers and deck crews work a week on and a week off. Many engineers opt for two weeks on and two weeks off. Some of them don’t live in the state and travel to go home. It’s difficult to keep a normal home life with this lifestyle and there is a lot of attrition in married life and time with kids. The number of staff on the ship is dictated by U.S. and international law. There were many times when the union negotiated with good faith on wage increases but it was not funded by the legislature. Don’t start talking about gravy train wages until you realize just how difficult this job is.

    • Every time I’ve ever bargained with them I got some variation of the standard rant about how we keep them captive on our slave ships. If I ever do a highlight film one of the things on it will be the union rant about the misery of life on the fast ferries because they had to go home every night and nobody cooked for them or served their meals or made their beds and cleaned up after them; there was even the possibility that they might have to mow the lawn or other such domestic slavery.

      It is a given that at some time in any conversation with an activist AMHS employee or a union rep you’re going to get a rant about how they “many times” made reasonable deals with the State that the State then refused to fund. The union reps will always work in something about how the State still owes them a 3.6% general increase from 1986, and 1986 is the one and only time the State ever had an executed agreement with them and the Legislature refused to fund it, but the AMHS never learns and never forgets. The State, the Legislature actually, has refused to approve agreements that the Executive Branch has negotiated with them. They can’t seem to grasp that the Legislature gets to ratify contracts the same way the union’s membership does.

      When you are dealing with the unlicensed employees, you are dealing with people for the most part whose knowledge, skill, and ability would get them a job in food service or retail where they would work for little if any more than the minimum wage and have no benefits. And don’t chime in about licensure and training; I have a Master’s license and I know what it takes to get an MMC and a TWIC and go to a few classes at employer expense.

      The big advantage the IBU has had in dealing with the State is that most of them live here because they don’t make enough to commute to work from Costa Rico or some other warm place. So, if they got laid off or struck they could whine to legislators and their not getting paid did have some economic impact on towns in Southeast, especially Ketchikan and Juneau. The licensed guys don’t care they can go to the hall and sail blue water and they’ll strike until the last unlicensed employee starves to death. Anyway Governors got a lot of pressure from legislators from coastal Alaska to get them back to work. When they struck in ’77, it was like the Ransom of Red Chief to get them back to work and nearly 30 years later we were trying to take or buy back stuff they were given to end that strike. But times have changed since ’77 and Southeast and Coastal Alaska has nothing like the political power it had back then. The vast majority of Alaskans live on the road system and if they have a choice between having their road plowed and the potholes fixed and paying to make sure a Steward with a bid job can make the better part of $100K/yr., the Steward loses.

      • Unlimited Ocean Master with Federal Pilotage Endorsments for 36 areas of Alaska Art? or a 100Ton license?
        You’re experience is with what the USCG considers a “lower level license” Upper Level Licenses require far more training and regulatory commitment to obtain and maintain.

        Like I tell everyone I meet, “If the “Captain” is actively engaged in steering the ship while underway” They are a skipper and it’s a boat, not a ship. The only exception to that would be while docking or undocking the vessel. 😉

        I never introduce myself as Captain despite earning the right by actually sailing as Master for over a decade on ships of all types. The reason is because the FUD you spread has everyone believing that Captain “Rick” on the halibut charter boat is the same as Captain “Keith” on the 905ft 65,000ton container ship. Your comments prove this ridiculous assertion.

        • Now that you’ve had fun pounding your chest and telling everyone how special you are, and that sure isn’t the first time I’ve heard the spiel about how special Masters are, there was no reference to the licensed engineers and deck officers, I was only referring to the unlicensed deck employees. I once spent several bargaining sessions listening to the MM&P whine about how only deck officers should wear shoulder bars so nobody would confuse the deck officers with the mere mortals. That’s your insecurity and ego showing; maybe there should be special shoulder bars with more than four bars so everyone can recognize the “real” Captains.

          • I’ve often said Art that you can dish it out but can’t take it. This guy really handed you your own medicine and you can’t accept it-that is your problem as one who regularly pounds his own chest here IMO.

          • To second what Keith said, you are not a real captain, Art. You should be embarrassed to be claiming to have a “masters license” in this discussion, in this context.

          • Keith A and Sam A.
            you should Cower down before the Great Captain ART CHANCE 100 Ton Master of the Bayliner the know all and see all of everything maritime and ship related, oh the sea tales he tells at the triangle and the lucky lady from his years sailing around Auke bay or his wishful trips while sitting in his Bayliner Yacht moored in ABY harbor. Look on the bayliner forums for his years of wisdom on everything boat related.
            the deck officers never whined about everyone wearing shoulder bars. the complaint was the pursers wanted Gold bars and both MMP and MEBA said they should keep the Silver bars. there you go again Art chance leading the Public in the wrong direction.

      • Some math for you kind sir…
        1 week on 1 week off work schedule = 26 weeks worked per year.
        7 days at 12 hours of work per day = 84 hours worked per week
        26 weeks of work at 84 hours per week = 2184 hours worked per year
        2184 hours worked x Stewards wage of 23.73 per hour = $51826.32 per year.
        Would you be gone from home for half the year, sleep in a room with a co worker in the bunk above you, clean toilets and make beds for 52000? If this sounds like a good deal we have an open position in the stewards dept for you. We cant find enough people willing to crew the boats.

        • C’mon, I actually have some familiarity with those agreements. Add in the OT, the late arrival pay, the off-watch call out pay, all at time and a half. And a bazillion other ways for the sea lawyers to try to pick the employer’s pocket.

        • Oh, and some math for you, genius; in addition to all the premium pay, there is a benefit cost of roughly 40%, so I stick by the “better part of $100K” statement.

          • Thank you so much for recognizing my genius. Late arrival pay is very rare and stewards typically only get ot pay if they are forced to work on their off week which is due to not enough stewards being employed by the state. As for the 40% benefits, I’d say you are being pretty liberal there but definitely at least 30%. So after the employer matched contributions to retirement union dues and mandatory SBS deductions and federal taxes, the stewards “take home pay” is a more like 35000 a year. Again, thanks for the compliment and the state would love to put you to work as a steward. Oh, but you have to have your twic card food workers card tams card and merchant mariners credential before your fist day of work. Good luck and god bless

          • Oh yea… the math. 40% of 52000 is 20800 for a total of 72800. Thats 27200 less than 100000.

      • Art. Nice spin. As a current employee of the system and having been in a few negotiating sessions, I can’t recall any whining or complaining. I also don’t know any steward s that make 100K a year. Also, it takes a little more than a twic and mmc these days to operate a ship.

      • Mr. Chance
        As usual you and the SOA over inflate and lead the Public to believe that All Stewards make 100K a year They do not. you further mislead the Public by your comment about non IBU unions living in Costa Rico. 85% of the 2 licensed union members live in ALASKA. and concerning the IBU Most of them do live in Alaska. there are a few members in all of the 3 unions whom chose to “live” in some other place than the US or Alaska. but to Blanket statement that we Licensed guys live out of the US is also misleading. After 24 years with AMHS I know very few union members whom live outside of Alaska.

        • I spent a few years chasing licensed residency cheaters back in the ’90s. Maybe that was enough to most of you to at least make it look like you live in Alaska.

          • Mr. Chance.
            yes you are correct, as in every organization there are those who try to work around the system. it does not matter who the Employer is. the AMHS is even more hard nosed about the residency requirements at this point and time, they are far more effective at this than you were. Mr. Chance please remind us what labor union you worked for where you sat on the other side of the table before you decided that being a union busting SOA labor relations person was a better deal. were you upset that you had to wait your turn before you could make the big money like those of the members before you had to? I found it absolutely wonderful that you thought you had your moment to shine again with the Dunleavy team, but only to have the rug yanked out from under you in a big public way it was very satisfying. Speaking of Dunleavy, He also worked the union system in education and received his SOA PERS retirement, How soon he forgot where his bread was buttered. just like you.

  • You mean the guy that rang up my coffee on a recent ferry trip, who couldn’t muster a smile, eye contact, or any other form of appropriate customer service communication, or make correct change, pulls in this kind of money as a clerk? I’m guessing he loves his paycheck more than he’s loving going on strike. No one else would or should hire him in the private sector.
    .
    AMHS went on strike in 1977 but can’t exactly recall what they were whining about then.

    • Garnet
      That Guy that could not give you customer service, Was probably exhausted, these crewmembers do not get 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep, their sleep is broken many times a day and they have to sleep in a bed made for children. What the traveling public does not understand is living on a noisy vibrating ship, working 12 to 18 hours a day and hoping that someone will relieve you after your week or two weeks on the ship is not an easy life. One of my fellow crewman has been held over with no relief for 8 weeks. That is 8 weeks of Sleeping 6 hours and working 6 hours but his 6 hours of sleep are broken by callouts to tie the ship up so in reality he gets about 4 hours asleep a day. and I have yet to see him complain. Most ferry workers have a Thankless job and usually get no more than 4 to 8 hours of sleep a night. Most of us are not on a ship that we can go home every night. we do not have internet, we do not have recliners to sit in after our hard days/nights work. And if there is an emergency, we do not get to call the fire dept. we are the fire Dept. we are the Damage control people. we are the first aid people, We are your neighbors who rescue you when your boat overturns or when there is a fire on the ship we are the crew who handle it. There are so many aspects to these jobs that the general public does not know, Even the Dishwasher and that cashier are trained to don a fire suit pick up a fire hose as well as provide first aid to an injured Passenger. ARE you trained for these things?….. My Apologizes for this person who was less than friendly to you. Not All AMHS Ferry workers are like that. Many are very helpful and very friendly. Maybe the Guy that was not friendly with you had just been berated by the passenger before you telling him how worthless we ferry workers are and how its because of us that everyone does not get their $3000 PFD. I hear this at least 3 times a week from friends, passengers. Art chance would have you believe working life on the ferries are all unicorns, lollypops, and roses. Ferry boat is none of these things. So Again I apologize for this GUY. I hope your next trip has a different experience.

  • So strike already. Get it done if you got the chutzpah.
    .
    Imagine what happens to the Inland Boatman’s Union if they stop ferry service mid-summer and Governor Dunleavy responds by implementing Frank Murkowski’s idea of leasing or contacting out Alaska’s ferry service to Sealaska?
    .
    Frank said this: “Perhaps one of our major corporations whose shareholders live in the impacted areas would take over a part of the underwriting along with the communities themselves. For example, Sealaska Corporation could lease one of the two inter island ferries or one of the new state day boats for the next two years and operate the service for the summer months, say April through October.”
    .
    (https://www.juneauempire.com/opinion/frank-murkowski-heres-how-to-fix-the-alaska-marine-highway-system/)
    .
    Another benefit might be: Union threatens the State, the state “negotiators” just give them more money. Union threatens Sealaska, things may not end well for IBU.
    .
    This could work.

    • With all due respect to my old boss, Governor Murkowski, there is little likelihood that Sealaska could operate it even as efficiently as the grossly inefficient AMHS management does, and Sealaska has much more political power so the likelihood is that the costs and subsidies would go up.

      • Art: thanks for the commentary and your analysis. I agree with you wholeheartedly. Allen Marine is fully capable of running a ferry service in Southeast Alaska. I believe Southeast Alaskans would find the service to be good and perhaps even better than the state run system. When Allen Marine tried this years ago they found they couldn’t compete with the State subsidized ferry system. Now is a good time to give private business a chance to pick up the pieces.

        • Art Chance was in labor relations and has no idea as to the operation of ships. Operating inspected passenger ships is not cheap, there are very few private ferry systems in the US, the few that are out there operate in High passenger count routes thus they are profitable. Wash. state ferries have huge passenger and vehicle loads thus the revenue their system brings in is far larger than the revenue AMHS brings in. AMHS ferry system was started for the needs of Alaskans with a small landing craft. there is an amazing history to the AMHS. however the AMHS ferries of today are a different program. Regulatory compliance for ABS, USCG, and such are a huge cost to running this ferry system. Truly the SOA would love to privatize the whole system, they have RFP`s out as I write this looking for a private carriers to pick up routes. Years ago they even went so far to subsidize the POW ferries and paid for the second POW ferry, and the POW ferries use AMHS docks and facilities. to this day the Pow ferries overhauls are subsidized through AMHS funds as well as the port stops of the POW ferries. Yet even with all the back handed funding Non union crews for the POW ferries they still do not operate in the Black, The Pow ferries were a failed Experiment as to the viability of privatizing of routes

      • Point well taken…
        .
        One would think somewhere on this planet, maybe even in America, somebody knows how to operate and manage a reasonably efficient, profitable, ferry system and might be receptive to operating AMHS on contract.
        .
        Wonder if IBU could be broken by driving negotiations to impasse, letting the union support its strikers for a while, especially where they’re stranded when their strike starts.
        .
        Another option might be installing Art Chance as Grand Vizier or Chief of Staff…

  • The state should do a request for proposals, allow sufficient time for due diligence and privatize this system.
    Do it now before it’s value is eroded to “0” and there is nothing to sell. Advertise in the Economist, the Wall Street Journal and two major maritime publications. Forget the money invested in subsidy. Focus on maximizing the sales price and minimizing the contingent liability of continued ownership.

    • Nobody with a brain would buy it unless they thought they could buy it cheap and then slither around handing out contributions and get the State to subsidize the operation. There isn’t an unsubsidized passenger line in the US that I know of. The cruise ships can operate profitably because they don’t use US-built vessels and don’t have US union crews

      • It would probably be cheaper to just “give” the assets to the private company.

        • Operating inspected passenger ships is not cheap, there are very few private ferry systems in the US, the few that are out there operate in High passenger count routes thus they are profitable. Wash. state ferries have huge passenger and vehicle loads thus the revenue their system brings in is far larger than the revenue AMHS brings in. AMHS ferry system was started for the needs of Alaskans with a small landing craft. there is an amazing history to the AMHS. however the AMHS ferries of today are a different program. Regulatory compliance for ABS, USCG, and such are a huge cost to running this ferry system. Truly the SOA would love to privatize the whole system, they have RFP`s out as I write this looking for a private carriers to pick up routes. Years ago they even went so far to subsidize the POW ferries and paid for the second POW ferry, and the POW ferries use AMHS docks and facilities. to this day the Pow ferries overhauls are subsidized through AMHS funds as well as the port stops of the POW ferries. Yet even with all the back handed funding Non union crews for the POW ferries they still do not operate in the Black, The Pow ferries were a failed Experiment as to the viability of privatizing of routes

  • This is a out and out lying attempt to again destroy our State resources the leak was from the State. In there attempt to bully them

  • The AMHS was funded by Governor Dunleavy, when other state funded operations were cancelled or dramatically shortened. Now, the ‘ferry workers’ want to blackmail the state. Over what? Isn’t their state funded monstrosity burning up enough Alaskan $$? If they do strike, it would be a good time to dock the entire system and reconsider their value. The only citizens they would hurt are the very ones who support them most, freeloading tourists and themselves, at subsidized expense. Maybe they can move into “camp berkowitz” and strike from there. Their job does entail time away from home, just like many other Alaskan jobs. No one is forcing them. To land those jobs takes considerable effort and connections. The jobs are replete with exorbitant wages, working conditions and benefits. Not many jobs come with 50% time off with pay. All the more reason for privatization, if they do strike.

    • Ben,
      My boyfriend is one of these employees you are speaking of. First, They are not paid for their time off. They are paid for their 12 hour shift a day for 7 days with no overtime paid. If they have a relief, they are then allowed to go home. If their relief does not show up, then they have to remain on board for an additional 14 days. They do not have the comforts of home. No television, no internet. Often they do not get to communicate with their loved ones. Their bunks are a small cubicle in which they are allowed to listen to the engines running and try to sleep. Yes they have health benefits and can pay into a retirement plan. This is no different than the average American at an average job.
      This state funded monstrosity as you describe it is the only mode of transportation most of Southeast Alaska has for services the rest of Alaska takes for granted. In the winter when there are no flights available, we have to depend on this ferry system for medical care, major grocery shopping or traveling to a larger city for connections to a major airline. Yes we Southeast Alaskans realize this is part of living where we do, but we live here and should be allowed the ability to receive services the same as the rest of our state.
      With all of that being said, the employees on my boyfriends ship have no idea about this “strike”. When I mentioned to him last night I had read a story about a pending strike, he asked coworkers and no one has any idea this is happening. So how can we hold them responsible for a decision made by the union?

  • I work on for the ferry system and I’d like to offer Suzanne Downing a tour on the ferry I work on. AMHS is not the best paying maritime job, actually it’s on the low side of the scale. Most of the maritime world works a 4 hours on 8 off schedule but on the SE ships we work a straight 12 or a 6 hour on 6 hour off shift. A good portion of us work here because we believe that we are providing a service to our communities. SE Alaska, Prince William Sound and SW Alaska have grown due to the ferry service provided by the state for over 50 years. Thats much longer than our PFD.

    • I dealt with the AMHS and the maritime units for most of thirty years. I’m still waiting to meet that vessel employee who is working for the AMHS so s/he “can provide a service to our communities.”

      • Mr. Chance
        you are a very unhappy person I have met you in the past and followed you on your bayliner forums. Your little 100 ton license is nothing. You were never qualified nor could you have ever worked in any capacity on the ferry system, simply this, if you could have you would have worked on the state ferry system. You are jealous. You spew your anti union venom from only one side of the fence not ever having to work on a real ship. you might have lasted one day. You and the state have amazing ways of over inflating the wages of the workers of the AMHS. Yes they are great living wage jobs that support other families and business in Alaska. Further, operating inspected passenger ships is not cheap, there are very few private ferry systems in the US, the few that are out there operate in High passenger count routes thus they are profitable. Wash. state ferries have huge passenger and vehicle loads thus the revenue their system brings in is far larger than the revenue AMHS brings in. AMHS ferry system was started for the needs of Alaskans with a small landing craft. there is an amazing history to the AMHS. however the AMHS ferries of today are a different program. Regulatory compliance for ABS, USCG, and such are a huge cost to running this ferry system. Truly the SOA would love to privatize the whole system, they have RFP`s out as I write this looking for a private carriers to pick up routes. Years ago they even went so far to subsidize the POW ferries and paid for the second POW ferry, and the POW ferries use AMHS docks and facilities. to this day the Pow ferries overhauls are subsidized through AMHS funds as well as the port stops of the POW ferries. Yet even with all the back handed funding Non union crews for the POW ferries they still do not operate in the Black, The Pow ferries were a failed Experiment as to the viability of privatizing of routes. Mr. Chance you are not a Stupid Man. You are just not versed in the grand scheme of how the AMHS ferry system works. You are versed with your specialty view of a very small sliver of the AMHS. After 30 years don’t you get tired of your Anti Union anti Ferry Nonsense. When you sat across the table on the other side of the fence you were nothing more than a COG in a very political office, certainly mostly part of the problem and none of the solution. I have 24 years with AMHS and Every day I work my goal is the safety and comfort of the traveling public, further I and many of my co workers every day deal with the negative remarks and the naysayers and the just mean people like you while we provide a service to our communities both while working on these ships and while at home supporting our local communities and businesses. Maybe if you came off your high tower of know all see all anti union institution and got to know some of the ferry workers you might have a different view. From a ferry workers perspective its hard to explain to people that we are here to serve our communities when we are constantly having negative remarks thrown at us by people like you.

  • Goodness, there is not a dry eye in the crowd. I am shocked that anyone would even think about taking such a job. I think a Strike is in order. Go for it! I’m sure you will get your way.

  • I have tried to remain supportive of the AMHS in my 25 plus years in Alaska. Like the rest of the state agencies, during the times of high revenues from the oil patch, most of us didn’t care about who got what. I try to ride the ferry at least once a year because I like traveling on boats. But I and most of the state live on the road system and we need work on our roads. There are more imports to the islands than exports from there ( finished goods not people) so the AMHS exists to get a very small percentage of the States population to and from home where you have chosen to live. The AMHS has always had a disproportionate percentage of the transportation money available to spend on infrastructure projects. PRIVATIZE NOW. Remember, we are talking about an operation that can’t figure out how to make a profit on a bar on a boat. Give me a break.

  • @Bill Yankee; thread got too thin.

    No, Bill it’s not that I can’t take it, it’s that I won’t take it. I’ve dealt with lefty a**es for almost fifty years now. Whether it was at a bargaining table years ago or on FB or a blog today, lefties universally believe that they can be a arrogant as they please and hurl insults and condescension at anyone who disagrees with them and that person is supposed to do something between meekly accept it and perform some act of contrition. Say anything the lefty punks don’t like and the media is screaming for an apology.

    I went to the same school as Comrade Obama; you bring a knife, I bring a gun. Be assured, I’m as contemptuous of lefties as you are condescending towards people like me. If you’re more than about five years out of government school, still a lefty, and not being paid to be a lefty, you’re an idiot.

    • I was wondering whether you would get into the Lefty stuff and you never disappoint. And that Master who put you in your place did not mention Leftys either.
      Whatever your point is here it’s lost on me. You still can’t take it IMO.

  • A strike vote of yes doesn’t mean a strike will happen. I’m really surprised that so many people are upset about someone working for a living wage. I moved up to Alaska after working for the system for several years. I like it. As a licensed engineer I’ll be fine. The number of licensed Mariners is in decline in the US, pay is just a matter of supply and demand. For some, you think a large ferry system can be run without proper licensed officers and crew. That’s up to the United States Coast Guard, not the Alaska dept of administration. To add, I get very little overtime, and have never heard of a signing bonus. I spend 180 days a year on the ship. Can I go and make more money somewhere else? Probably. That’s not what I want, as I like living in Alaska. As far as I know the IBU isn’t asking for anything other than they don’t want a pay cut to fund an increase in health insurance costs. Trust me, the state is fighting hard to lower costs, the union I belong to offered the state a direct rollover of our contract, no cuts, no pay increases. They turned us down.

  • So now MRA is up in arms over salaries that appear to average $30/hour. Good grief. These are not exceptional wages in any respect. Maybe the real issue is that they are higher than those earned by the people writing for this website. Give the ferry workers folks a break – they’re just trying to raise families like the rest of us. And remember, you all don’t pay a dime of their salaries. Start paying some taxes, and then maybe you’ll have a right to complain.

    • But we all DO pay state taxes, it’s just not “income” or “sales” tax. There’s two State taxes on my monthly cell phone bill. Electric companies pay state taxes and pass that right along to my electric bill. Gas taxes don’t only affect people with cars. The gas tax is also on boats and airplanes, so any boat or air trip you take, you’re paying that gas tax, too. How about the tire tax? Haven’t you ever had to buy tires and wondered why they’re so expensive? The state also has it’s own alcohol and cigarette tax, and that expense is passed on to consumers. There’s a slew of commercial fisher taxes that are passed on to consumers, as well. And if your business is a Corporation, you’re paying the State Corporate tax (one of the highest in the nation, by the way). There’s all sorts of insidious taxes that we are paying. People just don’t pay attention.

      • Well, you got me there!

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:State_and_local_taxes_Per_capita_by_type.png

        And the chart above doesn’t include the free PFD that everyone gets. It must be such a heavy burden to bear…

      • And BOOM, Whidbey gets schooled! Fact is, no matter how much tax you pay, those like him will still talk to you the same way. As is the way in California with their exorbitant taxes, smugness and condescension.

  • The state runs the ferry system because it isn’t economical for any other organization to do it. No private firm is going to take it over without a generous subsidy from the state. Maybe that’ll work out to be cheaper for the state to do, I don’t know? But because our capital is located on an island, the ferry service will remain in one form or another.

  • So now MRA is up in arms over salaries that appear to average $30/hour. Good grief. These are not exceptional wages in any respect. Maybe the real issue is that they are higher than those earned by the people writing for this website. Give the ferry workers folks a break – they’re just trying to raise families like the rest of us. And remember, you all don’t pay a dime of their salaries. Start paying some taxes, and then maybe you’ll have a right to complain.

    • You do realize the job posted are basically bottom rung Labor, these folks have no real job skills besides being able bodied, the big qualification the USCG requires is that they be US Citizens take that requirement away and you can cut the pay by 75%.

      • No, Art. They have to qualify for US Seaman’s card, take lifeboat (and in order to advance) ETT or EMT training, and they have pass drug tests and a real security background check. It’s not trivial, and for deck folks, not easy. Since you never worked a lick in your life at anything physical, you little weasel, you wouldn’t know.

        • Don’t call me ART and I know all about getting an MMD, it’s not tough. The biggest requirement is being a citizen and yes passing a drug test. It IS NOT SKILLED LABOR by any means; no matter how you try to spin it otherwise.

          • are you for real? not skilled labor? steer the Wrangell Narrows on a real ship, not Capt. Art Bayliners boat. you are an idiot by ALL means

          • Mongo, being a US citizen is not a requirement to obtain a Merchant Mariners credential. Most people really have no clue about what is required. Being a US citizen is a requirement for licensed positions. If you have any questions I will try and answer them.

  • 50 thousand people cross the southern border each month and I’ll bet most of them are qualified to work on the ferries.
    I wish the Governor would print each boat’s passenger numbers for each run on a weekly basis. Is it a secret?

  • Let me get this straight, state employees want to threaten the livelihood of everyone living on the ferries system so that they can live better? But the people who live and rely on them will have to give up their quality of life because of the cost increase do to higher wages for state employees who don’t want to work for the money that they are getting now!
    I think maybe It’s time for none government ferries to start running in alaska, maybe it’s even time for none union ships to start using city and state docks on a permanent basis so that they can supply a more economic resource to those who rely on ships for their livelihood.
    Right now as it stands, the unions have a noose around the necks of everyone who relies on the ferry system, maybe it’s time to deregulate the docks and open them up to free enterprise, and deregulate the ferry system too. Cut the noose and let none union ships operated thus taking away the power of the unions to hurt hard working Alaskans…

  • BLS wages data for this class of Sailors: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes535011.htm

  • My posts are having a tough time getting through the right wing filter, Google ” Dunleavy take a big chance on Art Chance” to get a little background on the man. Unfit for public service.

    • Oh my God, I Googled that . I can’t believe Dunleavy stooped THAT low.

      • Wow…. Yeah… the guy is a disgrace. Oh except for being a licensed master. Respect the position, not the man, right?

  • Interesting stuff about Art Chance.

  • Mr. Chance apparently struck something flammable, no?.
    .
    Rather than resolving the merits of the debate, the one side felt compelled to recoup losses by shifting to ad hominem attacks.
    .
    Discrediting the position by discrediting its supporter may win the day in some venues.
    .
    But not here.

    • I shouldn’t have to point out here that Mr. Chance rarely makes a comment without his own ad hominem attacks on anyone who disagrees with him. His boogeyman (Lefty) under his bed comes out at every chance and occasionally he gets paid back, as in these posts IMO.

  • It’s important for the ferry system to work for the coastal communities. Without this, many places, like Cordova, would go without any means of transportation. (Unless one takes the exorbitant flight to Anchorage)

  • Sounds like a great job, running empty boats.

  • This is going to hurt those that live on islands such as my son does
    (Metlakatla,AK) because the people from Metlakatla use the ferries to
    board their cars to drive in Ketchikan so now they will have to resort
    to (Taquan Air) bush planes and some of the natives also use the ferry to get to K-Town for doctor’s appt’s and those that are pregnant.

  • I drove all the way from Buffalo, NY with a new vehicle (first one owned in ten years) to get aboard the Columbia in Bellingham and sail to Ketchikan, then taking the short ferry trip over to Metlakatla, where I live and work.

    I find out that en route, on the 24th, the union decides to strike. Therefore, all the ferries stop operating. Now I’m stuck here in Bellingham with no family or acquaintances to fall back on, paying for hotels, barge costs for the car, a flight, more hotel costs in Ketchikan, and no clear way to get my vehicle over to the island.

    And that’s not even the worst of it. I feel for the tourists, the residents of all our island communities, and the commerce that are being hurt by this strike.

    I am 100% against unions. Having said that, I feel for the workers, but a strike is not the correct answer. You are damaging the lives of over 100,000 Alaskans to serve your own self interests. Do you need better working conditions and wages? Yes, I’m sure you do, and I’m all for that. But striking is not the correct answer.

    I hope the state fires you all and gets our ferries up and running ASAP. There are tons of families who don’t have the luxury of salaried work. You should be fortunate that you have what you do.

    • Tim ye dont have any family/friends I take it in WA?
      Ye probably know my son then (Cory Atkinson) and driving from Buffalo is a feat in itself,I live in Watertown,NY which is a 4 hour drive from there to Buffalo,I hope this strike ends soon,wot about family/friends in Met that could help ye out financially ?

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