Strike over: IBU negotiators and State have a deal


(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

“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.”


    • There are not many of these people around. As we are seeing, many, if not most, Alaskans work for government, non-profits and Native entities. And I would throw the medical profession in with those three, given how dependent the docs are on government largess. A relatively small fraction of Alaskans have experience matching expenditures to available revenues. It will be fun to see the terms of the IBU deal.

  1. They threw a hissy fit, violated their obligation to Alaskans & tourists, cost millions, inconvenienced many: fire them but at least don’t reward them! At the least, they should have to pay the $3 million before being allowed back to work!

    • Now settle down, Michael. On their wages, there’s no way they have 3 mil, so that’s never gonna happen. Time to move on.

  2. RW, The strike wasn’t illegal and there are not people banging down the doors for these jobs. The reality is many do weeks at a time because there are not enough people around to fill the jobs. That’s just one reason why the state has hired people from out of state.

    • Patrick, the strike was illegal; IBU committed multiple unfair labor practices which would have been a bar to impasse and thus a bar to a strike You got a deal because one was scared and the other was glad of it.

      And it isn’t true that there aren’t people who’d want the jobs, its just that so many of Alaska’s trust fund babies are degenerates and can’t pee in a bottle or pass a background check.

      • Art,
        The more comments of yours that I read, the more I start to believe that politics in Alaska has become a modern “fight club” for Old Geezers!

        • In my observation so much of the younger population is either pig ignorant, stoned, or both that only we “old geezers” have a clue what is going on. Generally we don’t believe that late night comedians deliver the news.

          • Well Art,
            Much of your generation was drunk and that is how we got to this mess to begin with.
            Younger (non retired) folks do not have months and months to debate the same issues over and over each year, therefore most of us just put our heads down and make life work with the alms left out on the table by the power brokers.
            Problem is as more and more younger residents pack up their bags and head south, Alaska will no longer have the needed work force for the future.
            At some point the AARP crowd needs to understand that generations change and this will not be the same place as it was 30 years ago…hence you may need to adjust those parameters on the government “piss test” like the FBI has had to.
            “…groups like the FBI may be forced to turn to people who like to get a little heated to stay ahead of the curve.”

      • Wow! Way to go Art, one of the chosen who managed to work the state into a situation where it couldn’t move forward or backward (except into the middle ages) because of his, and his cohorts, ideology.
        Nothing personal. I’m sure your (sic, in respect for Ben Stevens) a great guy to do barbeque with.

        Just sayin’

  3. I really hope the state presses charges against the union. If they just gave in to their demands, it is a sad day for Alaska.

    It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out, because if the union “wins,” there’ll be no stopping them in the future. They’ll keep doing this to Alaska time and time again every time they get unhappy.


  4. 1. The strike wasn’t illegal
    2. Healthcare is part of their
    compensation, the state was trying
    to reduce that part of their benefits
    3. Business does not have a seat at the
    table. If you want representation
    call your legislature, many did, in
    support of the ferry system
    4. There are not people banging down
    the doors to get hired, that’s why
    the ferry system has to hire some
    people from as far away as Florida.
    5. If your complaining about others
    making a living wage, get your life
    together, educate yourself, jump
    through the hoops, your effort
    should be spent on lifting yourself
    up, rather than bringing others

    • I would phrase number 5 differently but yes, why do some people hate good jobs with good pay? Why should all the money go to the wealthy — don’t working people deserve good wages?

      • Ed: Ignitz said public unions should be banned. That’s a dim bulb comment from a legal perspective. What’s there really to debate about Iggy’s call to”ban” public unions?
        There is a constitutional right to association involved or are we going to ignore the constitution?

        • You know better Joe, Constitutional freedom of association has never been the basis for collective economic activity.

    • IGNUTZ, what a name. Why should public employees not be able to be in a union. As a union member, and by the way, the three maritime unions are not ” public employee unions” , why should I expect less pay just because I work for the state.? I hear allot of “privatize the ferries”. Do you think just because they are private they pay less? It doesn’t matter if it’s private or public, employers are still competing for the same people. Your comment sounds like you support more government control (banning unions), but I bet your a republican cries for smaller government.

    • Uh, why? What other recourse do they have except slavery?
      You do realize that if the workers had been treated fairly from the beginning, the unions never would have materialized?
      And you do know the meaning of materialized?

  5. ‘re has a point… Failure to do the right action should result in the known, stated consequences. Otherwise it just rinse and repeat behaviour in the future …. Just look at the impact Reagan had with the FFA, another union in the travel industry!

  6. I hope the IBU was cognizant to the possibility of being set up here. By adding to the debt obligations the state has to the ferry system in the way of wage increases and medical coverages, they may have further hindered the fate of the state ferry system and only put a bigger target upon itself.

    • The Alaska Marine Highway System is in a serious downward spiral and has been for more than a decade. In no small measure this is based on ineffective management that is most obviously exhibited by the current General Manager, John Falvey, who was a dud when hired by Frank Murkowski when he was governor.

      • You could be correct about Falvey, but “a dud” is not much to go on IMO.
        I’ll just say that AMHS is regularly bounced around by the political whims of whomever is in charge and often the folks given powers over it are given as political favors by then-Gov. after a new election.

        • Falvey was originally hired to be the Port Captain for the Fast Ferries. At the time there was almost nobody in the US with an HSCC credential and he had one. I don’t know who promoted him to System Director; I know I wouldn’t have.

  7. I never thought of this before, Adam. How about a national maximum wage. Whatever you do, you don’t get paid more that that amount per hour.
    And three martini lunches are off the clock.

    This changes everything!

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