IBU spokesman tips the hand of the union: Strike is about budget cuts - Must Read Alaska
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Sunday, December 15, 2019
HomePoliticsIBU spokesman tips the hand of the union: Strike is about budget cuts

IBU spokesman tips the hand of the union: Strike is about budget cuts

In two instances this week, the spokesman for the Inland Boatmans Union of Alaska has said the strike is about budget cuts, and that wages and health care benefits are side issues.

In an Associated Press news story, Robb Arnold let it slip: Wages and other conditions are side issues compared with how workers are frustrated by the lack of communication on what cuts to the ferry system budget could mean to them.

[Read the story at News of the North, KINY]

Side issues? That explains why, after the state negotiators agreed to four items on the list of six, the union just backed away from the table and called a strike.

They said it was about a 9 percent raise they are demanding. And free coffee. And free health care insurance, without any copay.

But in fact, Arnold has shown that the strike is about the overall budget cuts to the ferry system, which will greatly reduce ferry runs this winter.

It wasn’t a misquote. Arnold on Thursday wrote a bylined story published in the Alaska Native News blog, in which he again made the point:

“A key issue in the dispute is drastic cuts in service for dozens of Alaska communities that depend on the State’s legendary Marine Highway. Ferry workers have joined with those community leaders and small business owners to keep ferries running in remote areas of the state that have no affordable transportation alternative,” Arnold wrote.

“Instead of working on a contract settlement that can keep the ferries running, the administration wants to slash service and leave thousands of customers in those communities stranded. Alaska can’t work if dozens of communities lose their lifeline to keep businesses operating and medical appointments from being canceled. We’ve been standing-up to help ferry service survive, and today’s action is part of that commitment,” he wrote, quoting himself in “Ferry Workers Take Strike Action after Governor’s Negotiators Frail to Act” (sic).

[Read the Robb Arnold story here]

Commissioner of Administration Kelly Tshibaka  has already called the strike unlawful because one of the union’s stated points — the Cost of Living Differential — is on the strike justification list, making it an illegal strike.

She has called them back to the table to continue negotiations and said she doesn’t want to escalate the matter by taking the union to court. Arnold, however, said the state has escalated the strike already by calling it illegal.

If Arnold is telling the truth in his statements, then the strike is evidently not about what is on the list of grievances the union has published, but has to do with expressing displeasure over the Fiscal Year 2020 budget cuts.

And that may also make it an illegal strike.

[Read: Joe Biden tells Gov. Dunleavy to fund ferries fully]

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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

  • Fire the lot of them – been one of the biggest money rat-holes in the state for many decades.

    Let the private sector do the transportation and save a pile of money.

    Sell all the assets.

  • I just took a group of tourists on the Kennicott ferry from Whittier to Homer on July 18 – 19. Perfect day! There were 3 cars on a ferry that probably holds 100 or more cars. There were about 35 passengers, including my group of 15. We stopped in Chenega and offloaded one vehicle. Basically we had a whole ship to ourselves. When I made the reservation there were only 3 outside cabins with bath available, but when we boarded they had dozens of them available. The purser said it must be a reservations glitch – hah! At least I was able to switch my guests.

    These tourists were amazed that we would run a whole ship with so few passengers and vehicles. I was appalled at the waste. We had a great time, but this is an extremely inefficient way to make sure a village like Chenega has service. It could be much better served by private ferry transport. The entire system needs to be re-configured. If it is supposed to cater to tourists then the operation leaves a lot to be desired – the food service and bar service is just plain weird. I’m a tour operator and do dozens of cruises and boat trips and the AMHS operation is not up to par. Their guest service is good but bogged down by dozens of rules developed by a government that needs to get out of the customer business. A private operator would be much more efficient and would offer much better service.

    I suggest privatizing the entire system and authorize the operator to come up with a plan. Incorporating tourism into the ferry operation, like we used to do with the Columbia Glacier run, would be a great start. The captain should call out the whales we see, and a slight diversion to see islands and glaciers wouldn’t cost a thing. The current ride is boring for tourists, and watching Mission Impossible in the movie lounge is not exactly what they are looking for in an Alaska experience. Bring back the naturalists and partner with the feds and state parks to see Kenai Fjords, Prince William Sound, and other beautiful parts along the way. Get DOT out of this business and eliminate the state employees. We might even make $$ if we do it right! And we’ll provide better service to the communities.

    • Thanks, Fred, for a great comment – good information, thoughtful insights, and great recommendations.

    • Fred, they’re not intended to be cruise ships; think waterborne Grayhound busses. As to the empty vessel; that isn’t Kennecott’s normal run; she was filling in for M/V Tustumena, a much smaller vessel. The AMHS has only two true blue-water vessels, Kennecott and Tustumena, and when one is out of service, the other has to fill in.

    • You’re only getting a small part of the picture. The Kennicott arrives in Whittier on its cross gulf trip from Southeast Alaska to Southwest Alaska and I’d be surprised if they didn’t bring a lot of traffic on that cross gulf leg. Typically that run is packed. Then it goes to Chenega since its on the way to Homer. Chenega is tiny so there’s never much traffic there but it’s on the way so they drop in to service that community. The next stop is Homer and since Homer and Whittier are connected by road there usually isn’t much traffic there either but that’s not the reason it goes to Homer. It goes to Homer to do a side trip to Seldovia but the main load with the most traffic over there is from Homer to Kodiak. That is where the Kennicott picks up another revenue leg and it does that leg because the Tustumena is out of the area servicing the Aleutian chain. So the main revenue run for the Kennicott is from South East to South West Alaska doing the cross gulf that is usually packed and since its in the South West before they load up to go back to Southeast they do a another revenue run to Kodiak from Homer, also usually packed. It’s like ridding a bus that goes from Houston to Chicago, the bus fills up and empties along the way and the farther you get from the main hubs the lighter the traffic but by time you get to Chicago the bus is packed again. You just happen to be on the in between leg of that run.
      As far as the naturalists, federal funding was cut for those positions since those are federal employees not state employees not much Alaska can do there but they are definitely missed. Glacier tours would be awesome but unfortunately it’s a bus and operates like one. The Columbia Glacier run was shut down because private tour operators argued that it hurt their business and the ferry system is to facilitate economic growth and to provide infrastructure for private business not compete with it. The AMHS can’t be privatized because the nature of the operation. Ferry systems aren’t money makers. Their service providers like other public services. It would be great if the AMHS wasn’t part of the DOT but unfortunately it’s a part of Alaska’s road system and the federal funds that Alaska gets for roads wouldn’t go to the AMHS and vice versa and with more people living on the hard surface road system competing for those funds AMHS gets left behind.

      Even with all that, it’s been the best job I’ve ever had and I love doing what I do. I’ve invested over 60k so far in my career with AMHS and I still have a ways to go. I’ve seen ships almost empty but most of the time their pretty full and I’m glad tourists ride our ships and would like to see more of them but my service is primarily to the people of Alaska and when the tourists go home I need to get the locals where they need to go because for them Alaska isn’t a part time gig. Generations of them grew up with this system and these communities flourish in part because of the infrastructure. Despite hearing over and over that I should of never been hired and shouldn’t have a job and being the political punching bag for nefarious politicians and a segment of the public that is ill willed and uninformed I know the people who actually depend on me are grateful for my service and I am proud to serve them.
      I’ll do better on calling out those whales for you, I have to admit I could definitely step up my game there.

      • Well said. Thank you.

    • See MAC’s comment below

  • Poor poor pitiful them.

    Does the union call $340.00 for a total of a 150 mile round trip ticket reasonable? That’s quinhagak-bethel.

    • To put a truck on a barge AML (Alaska Marine lines) from juneau to Haines one way it is $927 and almost 4 days after you drop it off!

      Same truck from juneau to Haines on AMHS (Ferry). Is $150 one way and 6 hours same day

  • Absolutely !

  • All of the passenger refunds are coming out of the Ferry operating funds. Does IBU union boss Arnold not understand that this strike is counter productive.m? It is not popular with most Alaskans many who would love to have the jobs being vacated. It is cruel to strand innocent passengers in communities with only expensive options. And it further justifies the Administration’s objectives. It is just stupid. And as the comedian says
    “ you can’t fix stupid”.
    An illegal strike To begin with and not associated with pay or benefits should result in making permenant replacements. And quickly!

    • dunleavy want’s to get rid of the ferry system so this is what it looks like.
      Alaska Airlines, PML, Allen Marine and other operators can move people and cars around but none can do both like AMHS can. No one! The state runs the ONLY roll on/roll off fleet in the state period. Keep that in mind when dunleavy willfully lies to the public about the private industry taking over for the AMHS because it cant and he knows it. Now the rest of Alaska knows it too.

    • Well said – I agree!!

  • Every public highway, bridge, tunnel, ferry, light rail or bus service that serves the public costs money.

    They are public services that lay the groundwork upon which the entire community is able to use their entrepreneurial skill to build businesses on reliable networks. It is these reliable networks upon which communities are built, long term residences are set up, schools are built and lives are arranged.

    The Alaska Marine Highway is part of that. The workers are part of that. You are part of that. That some of the people of Alaska can be so selfish to think every entity they don’t use can be trivially tossed away because they personally have other options is they height of hypocrisy. Take away THEIR essential community grid and these same people will whine to high heaven.

    Oh please folks wake up. Pay some taxes to support your infrastructure like the rest of the free world and fight for something that benefits mankind. geeez, why does this even have to be said?.

    • So there is no way to gain any efficiency in the AMHS? Maybe if the AMHS wasn’t so heavily subsidized by the state and those who used it paid some actual fees to support their infrastructure like the rest of the free world we wouldn’t be having this conversation…geeez, why does this even have to be said?

      • Four-flusher, your comment does not have any response to the poster other than just your ideology about AMHS.
        That’s your problem, not Bob’s.

        • I really enjoy when you post unintentionally ironic statements Bill.

          • I suspect you meant “ionic” Four-flusher.

          • “Ionic” as in you are an ion, or you are from Ionia in ancient Greece? Haha good one Bill. Dunning-Krugered yourself again didn’t you.

          • Well said. Thank you.

  • Two Words
    Ronald Reagan

  • It is a shame that apparently nobody in the Dunleavy Administration knows anything about Alaska collective bargaining law. A few longer term employees in labor relations and law should know but either aren’t being asked or are possibly sandbagging the Administration. I’m reticent to give them any advice since in their eyes I’m not nice enough to leftists and some union leaders, but I do care about my State.

    I don’t know who told the commissioner that she has to go to court over the illegal subject unfair labor practice. Since there is apparently no knowledge of labor relations practice at the State, I’ll spell it out for them. The Public Employment Relations Act (PERA) requires a cost of living differential (COLD) in all labor agreements based on the difference between “Seattle” and “Alaska.” It is dated and vague language but it has been in place since the Seventies and has been observed since the Seventies. The parties can agree to vary the COLD, and have, but there must be a COLD. IBU’s proposal is to remove the COLD and that is an illegal proposal because the law requires one.

    It is per se unfair labor practice, technically a refusal to bargain, to persist to impasse on an illegal subject of bargaining. Since a valid state of impasse is the factual predicate of the right to strike, the existence of the illegal proposal is a bar to a valid state of impasse and therefore IBU has no legal right to strike.

    Unfair labor practice complaints are adjudicated by the Alaska Labor Relations Agency, the entity that administers and regulates bargaining practices under the PERA. If the Commissioner showed up at Court today, the Court would likely tell her she had to exhaust administrative remedy with the ALRA first. The complainant fills out a simple form stating its cause for the complaint. The ALRA investigates and if the facts as asserted constitute an unfair labor practice, the ALRA will issue a probable cause finding and set the matter for hearing. The ALRA can order a party to return to negotiations and to cease economic actions such as strikes or lockouts, but normally it will only do that after a hearing but it does have the power to seek an injunction from the courts after investigation.

    In any event, it is probably too late and unfortunate that nobody in the Administration saw this coming or knew what to do. The IBU is out on strike and it is unlikely that the ALRA will take any action to force them to return to work without a full adversarial hearing and that could take weeks. I would still file the ULP to get the finding and then use it as the predicate for seeking damages from the union. The State may be liable for tremendous costs to get passengers and goods to their ultimate ticketed destination. I don’t know what if any notice the AMHS gave to passengers of the likelihood of the voyage not being completed; I heard no news of any notice, but ferry doings don’t attract much attention in Anchorage. It is relatively easy, if expensive, to get the passengers to their ticketed destination; just buy a plane ticket. Getting their vehicles and goods is another matter altogether. The only way to the road system from any ferry ports other than Haines, Skagway, Whittier, Seward, and Homer is a tug and barge. So, the State has to either accept the PR hit from leaving people to their own devices to move their goods and vehicles or start spending money to make barges available. I know what it was like to try to provide a replacement for one vessel when the M/V LeConte was grounded; it was almost impossible and cost us a fortune, then we had to pay the unions a fortune because we didn’t use a bare boat and a crew made up of their members. Somebody is in for quite a management exercise.

    One possible alternative is to go to court under AS 23.40.200(a)(2) and assert that the strike is a threat to the public’s safety and seek an injunction ordering the IBU back to work. I always thought it would be all but impossible to get the courts to conclude that a ferry strike was anything more than an inconvenience and an economic blow, not a threat to public safety. It might be worth a try; the State has dozens of lawyers with little else to do. However, in some ways winning would be a huge loss for the State. If the State gets an injunction, it has to submit to interest arbitration. If anybody knows how, they’ll have to file ULPs to get the union’s proposals on illegal and permissive subjects of the table and prevent them from going to the arbitrator; that’s a bunch of time and money. Then it is likely that IBU will up the ante on its proposals to try to get at least as much as other unions got in Walker’s sweetheart deals he made on his way out the door, and that is going to cost a bunch of money.

    Another alternative and my preferred one now that the damage is done, is to just accept it. Lay off all the licensed employees other than such crew as is necessary to keep the ships safe and warm during layup over the winter. There’ll be a fight with the licensed employees but the State should win. Then the IBU can contemplate a long, cold, hungry winter, since strikers aren’t entitled to unemployment insurance unless the Governor and commissioner of Labor have an attack of stupid, a possibility. The heavily subsidized AMHS has chased most other shipping away from locations served by the ferries, the absence of AMHS competition will bring back some shipping though it will be more expensive. Maybe the shipping and travel paradigm in coastal Alaska changes. Maybe the ferry system goes back to work under changed conditions sometime over the winter or next spring.

    Some posters have suggested that I might be able to unravel the mess if the Dunleavy Administration and I liked each other, but the reality is that the only thing I could do is try to get them back to work at as little cost as possible, and even that would be a lot like “The Ransom of Red Chief.” That’s the reason that every head of State labor relations since the ill-fated 1977 strike has done everything in his/her power to avoid a summer Marine Highway strike.

    • Addendum: There are some subtleties to how a COLD proposal could be handled under modern conditions, starting with the fact that Seattle is no longer served by the AMHS but rather Bellingham is the WA port and the cost of living there is different from downtown Seattle where the ferries docked at the time the language was enacted. But I’m not getting paid, so I’m not going to sort it out for the State.

    • Thanks for that explanation Mr. Chance.

    • Thanks, Art. Your analysis and wisdom are greatly appreciated here in MRAK.

    • Art, we heard you use the word “layoff.” What about, “you’re fired.”
      If it’s an illegal strike and bound to disrupt commerce, Dunleavy should be able to fire all of the striking state employees at AMHS.

      • I only used the word layoff regarding the non-striking licensed employees; they are under contract, however, there is no work for most of them because the vessels can’t sail without at least some of the unlicensed deck employees.

        That said, the unlicensed deck employees have a legal right to strike. I believe the current strike is illegal on highly technical grounds that can be remedied by the Alaska Labor Relations Agency but this is nothing like the Air Traffic Controllers strike in which they had no legal right to strike and were fired. Oh, and the whole point of a strike, any strike by anybody, is to disrupt commerce.

        • Good points, Art. Thank you. Appreciate your knowledge and input.

  • seemed obvious to me , what an opportune time to stick it to everyone. i say, YOUR FIRED.
    the private sector ( non unionized ) can and will do better, just a matter of time. your true colors come shinning through, if you cant have it your way then screw everyone. dont let the hatch hit you in the head as you exit the ship wog.

    • WRONG
      IF THE PRIVATE SECTOR COULD DO IT …. then it would be done!

      Even Mr. Chance has stated that

      • The private sector has been in competition with a highly subsidized government that until now has had limitless pockets. Truth be told the private sector has been squeezed out of the market almost to the point of monopoly status, by way of government. There really is no competition with unlimited pockets.
        The last 40 years should never be considered a fair playing ground wherein the free market could be heard when dealing with this subject.

        If the private sector was allowed to without government intervention they would do it better and it would be less costly overall, maybe not for each and every passenger but overall the cost would be less.

  • Selfish state ferry workers. They want to disrupt Alaska commerce and transportation on the backs of other Alaskans.
    .
    Dunleavy: Be strong! Give them one warning to go back to work with a deadline date. If they don’t return to work……FIRE THEIR A$$ES! Be like Ronald Reagan. This is your pathway to ferry privatization. And, there are many qualified captains, mates, etc waiting to go to work, FOR LESS MONEY, happy to have employment.

    • They will have a six-month career in the ferry service before the next round of cuts.

        • I think IAL was trying to say he only had six beers and he was going to cut himself if he couldn’t get anymore……

        • Thanks Suzanne.

          .

          …they will have a six month career in the ferry service before the next round of cuts.

          .

          Where do I sign up?

          • Working 6 months and making $50-60 grand, I know plenty of people who will sign up for that. Themes teachers wages except you don’t have to work the extra 3 months!

          • Have your friends sign up, Four-flusher.

          • Bill Yankee, MRAK’s pet chiwaaaawaaaa, yips again…. yip yip…

    • Yeah….They’re going to come up here and work for less…and you realize there’s a mass shortage of qualified mariners in the industry…especially on ships?! Seems that less and less people want to be gone at sea half their lives to make a living.

  • Dirty tricks by IBU, mayor of Anchorage.

  • For all the labor relations experts yelling for firing them all: The Air Traffic Controllers that President Reagan fired and replaced did not have a legal right to strike under any circumstance. They tried it because they thought the President wouldn’t dare fire them; he fired them. In this case the employees of the Alaska Marine Highways system have a legal right to strike and have had that right since the system was created in ’61. In the early days bargaining was strictly between the unions and the Commissioner of, then, Highways. When the Public Employment Relations Act was enacted in ’72, the maritime unions resisted being covered by it and it took a Supreme Court decision, IBU v. Halfling, to put them under PERA which somewhat restricted their almost unlimited bargaining rights.

    As I talk about above, I don’t think this particular strike is legal because of the particular circumstances here. That is a technical issue that can be cured by the Alaska Labor Relations Agency.

  • Just my opinion here but, having spoken to an acquaintance who is part of the union that is striking last Tuesday before they walked out on Wednesday, I asked how was moral in their bunch and was told it was in the toilet.
    This may have been due to budget cuts or other issues relative to the strike but under the circumstances it’s easy to see how the two things go hand in hand and it’s easy to see how both things are involved. While the union may want to have things separate, for their strike vote, it just may not be possible IMO.

    • Bill, morale at the ferry system has NEVER been good. Most of them are only happy when they get off the ship and head to the nearest liquor store.

      • Last time I was on the ferry I had a wonderful time. Sat on the solarium, watched the waves and stars and the porters were quick to take care of anything I needed.

        • Tom, I agree with your first sentence; the marine highway employees have never been happy in my twenty odd years with the State. Too much time on their hands studying their contracts playing sea lawyer trying to figure out yet another way to be aggrieved and to get their hands in the employer’s pocket.

          As to the rest, I don’t know that they’re any more inclined than lots of other people who head to the bar or liquor store at quitting time.

        • Cannabis and a bong too?

      • Your attempt here is BS, Tom. I’ve lived in Juneau for almost 50 years and have known quite a few over the years and not a single one with a liquor problem. Further they’ve been proud of their employ.
        I’m curious as to why would someone make such a comment-what is your expertise, here? My comment above was just relative to those striking but you seem to be talking the entire ferry system. If yours was an attempt at a joke, it fell flat IMO.

        • Back off, Yankee. Tom did employment background checks before he joined the FBI.

          • Alaska has a ferry system?

          • Say Tim, does Tom also depend on your defending his expertise here? Heheh!

        • Bill,
          Tom’s response was to elicit a response, he is good at the “put downs”…
          As for Morale, I believe the whole “shit show” has Morale in the toliet per se.
          Looking at the year of dead lock, bipartisanship, terminations, lawsuits, unwillingness to compromise and the potential for a recall movement within the first year of office, I truly wonder the future of this great state?
          I think history would tell us that if you want to know the future than look to the past.
          All of these “services” we came to enjoy as Alaskans are byproducts of revenue generated by oil royalties of which it seems we are nearing the end.
          Ernest Hemingway said it best in his classic novel:
          “The Sun Also Rises”…
          “How did you go bankrupt?” Bill asked.
          “Two ways,” Mike said. “Gradually and then suddenly.”

          • Further Steve, I would not be surprised that these strikers will find themselves having shot themselves in the foot for this strike that was more about the overall “shit show” than contract issues.
            Wrong time for a strike unless your ducks are aligned perfectly and this strike has not been handled perfectly IMO.

  • “A key issue in the dispute is drastic cuts in service for dozens of Alaska communities that depend on the State’s legendary Marine Highway. Ferry workers have joined with those community leaders and small business owners to keep ferries running in remote areas of the state that have no affordable transportation alternative,” Arnold wrote.

    What kind of logic is this? They’re going to keep the ferries running by going on strike and stopping the ferries from running?

    I was a clerk for Amtrak for 31 years. The situation was similar in that we were working for a transportation company that didn’t make money. Amtrak isn’t
    managed by the Federal Government, but it is subsidized. On the railroad we threaten to strike as a negotiating tool, but strikes are very rare. Ordinarily when there’s a strike against a railroad, the President orders the strikers back to work, and negotiations continue.

    We knew we couldn’t strike because it wouldn’t diminish the company’s profit. And clerks can’t stop a train. But we negotiated. When I hired on in 1978, Amtrak just went along with whatever agreement (railroad unions make agreements rather than contracts) the other railroads made.

    Then Amtrak started negotiating. They said that since they weren’t making money, they couldn’t afford to pay the wage increases the other railroads did. So our wages fell behind other railroads. But our union negotiated the best they could. Often we would be the first union to make an agreement and put a clause in the agreement that, if any union received a better deal, we would receive the same.

    If I were a member of the IBU and still had a job with the AMHS after this mess is over, I would start campaigning for different union leaders.

    • These are words of wisdom from a fellow union worker who has traveled a similar path. Sadly I doubt many, if any, of these strikers will have a job since they don’t offer a skilled service or something that anyone else can’t do with a couple days training.

  • The private sector has been in competition with a highly subsidized government that until now has had limitless pockets. Truth be told the private sector has been squeezed out of the market almost to the point of monopoly status, by way of government. There really is no competition with unlimited pockets.
    The last 40 years should never be considered a fair playing ground wherein the free market could be heard when dealing with this subject.

    If the private sector was allowed to without government intervention they would do it better and it would be less costly overall, maybe not for each and every passenger but overall the cost would be less.

    • What a crock!

  • On one hand say how vital the ferries are and then shut down the vital ferries. Like doctors saying how vital it is to treat heart attacks and then refusing to treat them. “Alaska can’t work if dozens of communities lose their lifeline to keep businesses operating and medical appointments from being canceled.” The union is doing exactly what they accuse administration of doing.

    • The only reason you need the ferry to go to a medical appointment is so you can take your vehicle, go shopping, and do a little “medical tourism.” To the extent that the ferry brings freight, it is a direct and heavily subsidized competitor to private shipping lines.

      • Art, surely you know about flights being cancelled regularly during winter in Southeast-wouldn’t be surprised it’s the case in Kodiak as well.

        • And getting cancelled or overheaded doesn’t happen nearly as often as it used to and it certainly doesn’t happen as often as people claim it does. I flew in and out of Juneau at all times of the year two and three times a month for over twenty years and I could count on my fingers the number of times I didn’t get there on the scheduled day, not necessarily the scheduled hour, but at least the right day. If you know that, you fly the day or at least the evening before.

          • Art, I suspect you are speaking about Alaska Airlines, rather than the smaller planes without the special technical additions.
            So much of SE that is dependent on these ferry sailings are small planes and some even float planes. And when the winter weather is bad it’s often bad for several days.
            Anyway, your experience with AA out of Juneau is not in the slightest comparable to many folks attempting to get to Juneau from smaller communities without jet service.

  • Fake news by a phony scumbag reporter that is nothing but the slime from beneath the rocks where encrusted whores are buried. Give me a shovel and I’ll plant you. You write lies and are a disgrace to the media. It’s surprising how many gullible suckwads believe the crap you write.
    Do the world a favor you republicunts and go jump off a cliff.

    • Some people are a credit to their cause, making well thought out arguments and advancing the narrative. This is clearly one of those people…what exactly is your cause Heimlick B?

  • All the private sector does to drive down cost is start passing out H1B visas and start the process of importing another couple million people that are “natural conservatives”.

    .

    What happens when you worship the dollar and disdain any allegiance. To Christ, nation or family.

  • Alaska doesn’t need a State Run Ferry System. For those who say otherwise, I say plenty of remote villages survive without a Ferry System.

  • We were on board as the ship docked in Ketchikan, where 70% of crew members apparently live, and the Purser prompted all Stewards to disembark – abandoning their ship – without any consideration to passengers.

    I find it in very poor taste that as a crew, as professionals, that you would embark on a journey with the intention of strategically disrupting and using a whole ship full of people as bargaining chips — I understand they have families; I understand that they have to feed their families. I feel for them in that, but this is not a noble way to do it.

    May be the last sailing of the Columbia under AMHS https://youtu.be/8k-o1-ccafM

    • Interesting Ernie, but I read yesterday that the ship in Ketchikan is accommodating travelers, without other accommodations, by letting them stay on-board in staterooms and allowing showers, to boot.
      I have no idea about how smoothly things are going on board but these Stewards would have had not authority to do any of this IMO.

      • Facts are we were allowed to stay for one night only, given food from the cafeteria, and showers worked, but all vehicles and people were told to disembark – without any further assistance given – the Captain and remaining skeleton crew refused to even help 80-year old folks to get their luggage off (they did not want to cross picket lines) – all were offered black garbage bags, because it was raining out.

        • Thanks Ernie, I suspect they were required to remove vehicles for liability reasons and frankly allowing folks back on for one night was pretty generous IMO.
          Strikes are serious business for all concerned and hopefully some progress to settling this dispute takes place soon. I’m of the opinion that this strike was not handled properly but this will eventually get sorted out.

          • “…frankly allowing folks back on for one night was pretty generous” – seriously…? Come on – 80 year old people, families with children, some folks had dogs…where are they all suppose to go on short notice – unexpected, at own expense – even after an additional night? People were planning on getting off at Bellingham on Friday only. Now, on top of it – at short notice, in the middle of summer – they had to find plane tickets to travel mostly to Seattle…and some with RV’s paid $2,000 for a barge then had to wait 8 days for it’s arrival. So, no – I do not think they were cotton-picking big hearted at all! Let’s be real.

          • Remember here Ernie that those who made the decision to allow those folks back on for one night were letting the State be liable for anything that could go wrong-this is not something that officials are good at and they very well could lose their jobs. I suspect that some attorneys forced their hands after the one night and stopped further nights.
            Who was going to be responsible? Do you think the Commissioner was going to get down there and keep watch during the night to make sure everything is OK? I suspect they were taxed at just getting a few folks to make sure the vessels were OK.
            Anyway, it’s not something that anyone was prepared for but finding fault will be difficult IMO.

  • Stop defending the AMHS like you have some vested inside interest or something, Bill – it is what it is, and wasn’t done in a noble manner by IBU members. If their concerns was for all Alaskans, AND tourists, they could have declared a strike ahead of time with forewarning – instead of abandoning ships, blindsiding everyone. Enough said!

    • Where do you get that I’m defending AMHS, Ernie??
      I believe IBU blundered here, along with State, but 86% strike vote by members is something that can’t be ignored. Their concerns are for their livelihood and they voted accordingly-the rest is just something that labor relations and strikes are wont to do.
      I personally believe those IBU members were sold a bill of goods by their union when they were particularly down due to budget cuts, but that’s water under the bridge. It’s not their responsibility to warn tourists, either-it could have been handled better by the union IMO but the abandoning ships was required of them once the strike was announced.
      You don’t like that “tough noogies.”
      We’ll see how it all shakes out.

    • Further Ernie, here is a post of mine in Juneau Empire that appeared right above your own post there: “Why is it that this union couldn’t accept the language the other marine unions accepted? I’m afraid that this issue alone will cause more backlash from the public than these strikers bargained for. Granted, moral is low due to budget cuts but that must be removed from their reasons to strike IMO.”
      I ask you here, does that post sound like someone defending AMHS or someone with a “vested inside interest or something?”

    • Ernie,

      I’m sorry you had to deal with such an unprofessional situation that clear should have been handled better with advance notice. This strike was put on to cause the most damage possible. I’m also sorry that you are being harassed here for simply recounting your firsthand experience. Some people just have too much time and not enough sense. Thanks for sharing your firsthand experience with how this shook out. I can only hope that the rest of your stay here in our great state is better than the treatment you’ve received so far.

      • Four-flusher, you have an interesting concept of “harassment” as it is Ernie that is accusing me of defending AMHS.
        You also consider yourself an expert in labor relations with your comments that are nothing but your opinions. What is your expertise here?
        My opinion, and I’m an expert in my opinion, is that you are nothing but a “blowhard” in addition to being a liar.

  • Since those privileged few who depend on the ferry system are getting more than a $5.00 per vehicle mile travelled subsidy for their travels the “fair” solution would be to pay the same subsidy to those of us who have to actually drive our cars to our destinations. I figure that if that were to be the case I could make a great living just travelling around the State and enjoying the scenery. A mere 20,000 miles would thus generate $100,000.00 of subsidy income. I could add to my income by becoming an UBER driver at the same time and deduct most of my operating expenses. Don’t you love government subsidies….

  • @Bill Yankee; the thread got too skinny.

    I have been from Ketchikan to Barrow and from the Bering Sea to the Canadian Border in C-207s, Beavers, Otters, Twin Otters, Pilatus Porters, and all sorts of other nondescript aircraft. You can say you’ve see Alaska when you’ve seen it hanging upside down from the seat belts of a badly bent C-207. When you’ve slept on school floors and lived off Pilot Biscuits and peanut butter, talk to me about travelling in rural Alaska.

  • IF THE STATE IS GOING TO SUBSIDIZE FERRIES BECAUSE PEOPLE WANT TO LIVE IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE ALASKA ……..

    WHY NOT SUBSIDIZED …..
    AIRPLANES!
    TRAINS!
    TAXIS!
    CITY BUSES!
    MOTORCYCLES!
    BIKES!
    (((( FOR EVERYONE! ))))

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