One more state ferry union has reached a labor agreement, and in time for the Legislature to approve funding for raises this year.
The Masters, Mates & Pilots union, whose 110 members guide the ships of the Alaska Marine Highway System, has been working without a contract since July, when its last contract extension expired.
The new contract, on which the union and the state reached agreement last week, will cover the period of July 1, 2008 to June 30, 2011, said Nancy Sutch, labor relations analyst for the state's Division of Personnel.
The contract calls for a one-time cash payment of $2,381 for this year, and then a five percent wage increase beginning on July 1. On July 1, 2010 they'd get an additional four percent increase for the final year of the contract.
In the negotiations, union members gave up the right to file grievance if the Marine Highway System contracts out ferry service to a private company in an emergency.
That issue became controversial last year after it was revealed that ferry union members won awards from an arbitrator after the ferry LeConte ran aground in Peril Strait, and the system contracted for replacement service without asking the union.
State officials said at the time that they'd received union approval in similar circumstances, and assumed approval would be given and didn't provide notification.
Sutch said the new contract language still requires consulting with the union, but simply removes the union's ability to file a grievance over the issue if that fails to happen.
"We removed the hook to the grievance procedure," Sutch said.
Union members also get additional money for health benefits, equivalent to other state employees, and increased money for lodging.
Another contract change eliminates the Navigational Equipment and Maintenance Fund for those members who wanted to purchase their own equipment, such as binoculars, but in exchange creates a fund for training. Sutch said that may help members develop skills that will allow them to advance through the ranks.
"It's a new program, so we're going to see how it works through this contract," Sutch said.
The Office of Management and Budget submitted to the Legislature an amendment to the 2010 budget by adding $926,600 to pay for the raises, said Karen Rehfeld, the office's director. This year's proposed supplemental budget will be amended to include an additional $408,200 to cover this year's one-time bonuses, she said.
The Inland Boatmans Union of the Pacific contract was approved earlier, and the proposed budget includes money for the raises it negotiated. The third ferry union, the Marine Engineers Beneficial Association, is getting close to an agreement, Sutch said.
Contract reporter Pat Forgey at 586-4816 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Juneau Empire ©2013. All Rights Reserved.