State negotiators and three labor unions operating the state's second fast ferry, Chenega, said they reached a final contract late Friday that included agreements on crew size and schedules.
Up to six University of Alaska Southeast students a year can be accepted as oiler interns in engine rooms of state ferries under an agreement signed recently. Oilers maintain the engines.
The contract ratified Monday by members of the Inlandboatmen's Union of the Pacific calls for no wage hike, said Bob Poe, commissioner of the Department of Administration. Two other contracts reached with state employees' unions this year had similar terms.
That doesn't mean a strike is imminent, however, said Bob Provost, regional director of the Inlandboatmen's Union of the Pacific, Alaska region. A strike vote could be used as leverage in negotiations. The union's executive committee is actually recommending a ``no'' vote, Provost said.
Members of the Inlandboatmen's Union of the Pacific, which provides most of the crews on Alaska ferries, have voted down a tentative contract and have returned to the bargaining table.
University students will get their sea legs and the ferry system could find much needed workers under a new type of internship.
Gov. Tony Knowles put the Alaska Marine Highway System's first fast ferry out to bid today.
A demonstration run of a fast ferry between Juneau and Sitka on Thursday showed the vessel could make the trip in the advertised four hours each way and navigate Sergius Narrows with minimal discomfort for passengers.
It appears the order from the governor's office is to go on the offensive to repair the public-relations debacle Murkowski finds his administration in.
A tour vessel picked up some travelers in Gustavus this week, but transferred them to a state ferry for the return trip because seas were so rough. Is it a lesson for state transportation planners?
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