Ferry Workers Take Strike Action After Governor’s Negotiators Fail to Act
FVF Chenega, one of the shuttle ferries in the Alaska Marine Highway fleet.
JUNEAU—Public ferry workers who operate Alaska’s vital Marine Highway announced that they are striking, following the failure by Governor Dunleavy’s negotiators to offer an acceptable compromise prior to a July 24 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 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.”
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The Marx Bros. Café
Jack Amon and Richard “Van” Hale opened the doors of the Marx Bros. Café on October 18, 1979; however, the two had already been partners in cuisine for some time, having created the Wednesday Night Gourmet Wine Tasting Society and Volleyball Team Which Now Meets on Sunday, a weekly evening of food and wine. It was actually the end of the weekly event that spurred the name of the restaurant: hours after its final service, Amon and Hale were hauling equipment and furnishings out of their old location and to their now-iconic building on Third Street, all while managing arguments about equipment ownership, a visit from the police, and quite a bit of wine. “If you’ve ever seen the movie ‘A Night at the Opera” starring the Marx Brothers, that’s what it was like,” Hale explains.