(Editor’s note: Updated below)
The Inland Boatmen’s Union and the State appeared to have come to terms on a contract. No picketers were observed at the Auke Bay ferry terminal Friday morning, although their tents and debris were still there. Sources tell Must Read Alaska that the contract is now being voted on by the rank-and-file members of the union.
The strike was called by IBU leaders on July 24, after the union said it had reached an impasse with the State. It is the first strike affecting the Alaska Marine Highway System in more than 40 years and has cost the State more than $3 million in fare refunds, while inconveniencing Alaskans who live in coastal communities served by the ferries.
The union was demanding a 9 percent raise over three years, free health care, the authority to dictate work schedules, and free coffee, among other things.
IBU leaders admitted, however, that the strike was in opposition to the reduction of the State budget, which included a $46 million reduction to the ferry system, a deal negotiated by Sen. Bert Stedman of Sitka.
Department of Administration Commissioner Kelly Tshibaka released the following:
Department of Administration Commissioner Kelly Tshibaka and her negotiating team reached a tentative agreement late Thursday night with the Inlandboatmen’s Union of the Pacific (IBU) on a new three-year contract. The agreement ends the 9-day strike, and striking employees will return to work so the Alaska Marine Highway System can prepare for the resumption of ferry service to coastal communities as quickly as possible.
“I want to thank IBU leadership, Commissioner Tshibaka and her team for their tremendous effort to reach an equitable compromise that treats our hard-working employees fairly while recognizing the State’s current fiscal situation,” said Governor Michael J. Dunleavy. “Strikes are tough on all sides, so it is especially gratifying to see this one come to an end so we can get the ferries back out on the water serving Alaskans.”
“This new agreement addresses many of our members’ concerns,” said IBU President and chief negotiator Marina Secchitano. “We are very pleased with our new tentative agreement and we appreciate the efforts of the State’s bargaining team in helping to bridge our differences to reach a fair resolution.”
The new contract is the result of more than two years of negotiations between the State and the IBU. Terms of the tentative agreement will be released once the contract is ratified by IBU members.
“We spent a lot of long hours and late nights at the negotiating table, but it was worth it,” said Commissioner Kelly Tshibaka. “I want Alaskans to know both the IBU and the State made concessions and compromises to reach this win-win agreement. This deal is both good for employees and good for Alaska, and that is what really matters.”
The Alaska Marine Highway System will not be able resume service immediately but will immediately begin the process of preparing the ships to begin service for Alaskans and visitors from around the world as quickly as possible. The earliest ships will sail on Saturday. The full ferry schedule is posted online at http://www.dot.state.ak.us/amhs/.
“We’re glad to have our IBU employees headed back to work. We are moving as quickly as possible to restart Alaska Marine Highway operations and get our ships ready to sail to serve our coastal communities,” said DOT Commissioner John MacKinnon. “I thank everyone who worked hard to reach this agreement, the crews who kept our fleet shipshape these past nine days and those behind the scene who kept the lights on and managed all the cancellations. I also thank those private sector businesses who altered their normal course of operations to accommodate the stranded passengers and cargo.”