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State, second ferry union reach deal

Deal closely resembles first union's agreement with state

Posted: July 1, 2014 - 12:04am
The Alaska State Marine Highway Ferry Fairweather pulls up to the Auke Bay Terminal in June.  Michael Penn | Juneau Empire
Michael Penn | Juneau Empire
The Alaska State Marine Highway Ferry Fairweather pulls up to the Auke Bay Terminal in June.

The State of Alaska and the International Organization of Master, Mates and Pilots union announced a tentative agreement Monday on a new labor contract. The deal includes a 1 percent pay increase next year and another 2 percent bump in 2016.

MM&P is the second of three ferry workers unions to strike a deal with the state after the sides were unable to come together by the original March deadline this year.

“Given the current budget outlook the focus of the tentative agreements reached with the marine unions will help the Alaska Marine Highway System (AMHS) remain sustainable for communities that rely on the service while minimizing the subsidy from state coffers so that other essential state services can be maintained,” Department of Administration Commissioner Curtis Thayer said in a statement. “We look forward to member ratification of this balanced and fair tentative agreement.”

The deal, which still must be ratified by the union workers, also includes a provision that will require ferry workers to pay $100 for an annual ferry-use pass that they previously got for free. Charging some amount for this offering was a priority for the State.

The original deadline for resolving the contract dispute was the 60th day of the 2014 Legislative Session, which was in late-March. The Legislature must approve monetary components of state contracts, and missing that deadline all but eliminated the workers’ chances of receiving a raise this year.

The ferry pass cost and pay increases match the terms in the state’s agreement with the Inlandboatmen’s Union of the Pacific that was tentatively agreed on last month.

“The Masters, Mates and Pilots members who serve as Deck Officers aboard the vessels of the Alaska Marine Highway System provide a valuable service to the citizens of and visitors to Alaska,” MM&P Representative Ron Bressette said. “We have negotiated a Tentative Agreement with the State and will present it to our members for ratification.”

Originally, state officials were hoping to see a change to the cost of living differential that gives Alaska residents significantly higher pay than out-of-state residents, but the state backed off on that front.

The unions had worked together to defeat a Senate bill that was introduced during the Legislature this year that would have eliminated ability for the state to offer a cost of living differential for union workers.

The Marine Engineers Beneficial Association is the final union the state needs to comes to terms with.

• Contact reporter Matt Woolbright at 523-2243 or at matthew.woolbright@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/reportermatt.

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