JUNEAU – Public ferry workers who operate Alaska’s vital Marine Highway announced a strike Wednesday afternoon, following the failure by Governor Dunleavy’s negotiators to offer any meaningful compromise prior to a 2pm AKST deadline.
The action had an immediate impact on the MV Columbia, located in Ketchikan. Workers assigned to that vessel will not be working and have organized a picket line. Workers belonging to other unions have pledged to honor picket lines.
“We didn’t want to take this action and urged the Governor’s negotiators to work with us to get a contract,” said Trina Arnold, Director of the Alaska Region Inlandboatmen’s Union of the Pacific, an affiliate of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union.
“This strike action is just beginning, and we stand ready to return if the Governor’s negotiators want to get this resolved with a contract,” Arnold added.
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.
“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,” said Arnold. “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,” said Arnold.