The Inland Boatman’s Union has called a strike, as a result of the impasse between the State and the union. Word has reached Must Read Alaska that the ferries are being tied up as they reach their next port.
A letter from Commissioner of Administration Kelly Tshibaka was sent to the IBU workforce today saying that she hopes the strike will not take place before efforts to reach an agreement are “fully exhausted,”
“In my opinion, a strike should be an action of last resort, not first resort,” she wrote.
Tshibaka’s letter continued:
“As you may know, the Department of Administration (DOA) has been in negotiations for a new contract with the IBU for some time now. While no new contract agreement has yet been reached, I hope that the IBU will continue meeting with the State and we will soon have our agreement.
“On multiple occasions over the last week, in a spirit of good faith, we asked IBU leadership for another meeting with us and the Federal Mediator and suggesting the State had some new ideas to bridge our differences. The IBU has chosen to not meet with us, and instead focus more on an unnecessary strike vote.
“If we have a strike, the Alaska Marine Highway system may well be shut down and many State residents and visitors may well be adversely affected, some in a very serious and hurtful way. It is unfortunate that such unnecessary harm will be put upon on our friends, fellow employees, neighbors and visitors. We urge all employees to report for work as scheduled.
“We have been asked what happens to employees’ pay and benefits during a strike and how long thestrike may last. First, an employee on strike will, of course, receive no pay from the State for any time spent on strike. Second, employees on strike may have to pay all their premium costs for their health insurance through COBRA, or possibly lose their entire coverage, depending upon circumstances. Third, we have no idea how long a strike will last.
“Finally, the State believes that any strike is unlawful and unprotected. If this is true, then striking employees could be subject to discipline, including termination, for striking in support of illegal bargaining proposals.
“If you have questions about the open issues in the negotiations, please contact your IBU leadership.
“I hope this communication answers some of the questions you may have about possible personal impacts of a strike. If you have further questions, please submit them in writing to the Division of Personnel and Labor Relations (DOA.DOP.LaborRelations@alaska.gov) for our response and answer.