Agreement prevents port strike

Posted: Friday, March 31, 2000

ANCHORAGE - A longshoremen's strike in Alaska was averted, at least temporarily, by a tentative agreement reached Thursday night in Anchorage.

``The strike will not be happening,'' said Mike Ellers, business agent for the International Longshore and Warehouse Union local in Juneau.

Members of the union's Alaska Longshore Division had been prepared to walk off their jobs beginning at 6 p.m. today. The strike would have affected 15 ports from Ketchikan and Juneau to Dutch Harbor, but not Anchorage.

Representatives from the dock workers union proofed the contract agreement this morning, and were expecting to bring it to another vote by the general membership late tonight, or Saturday, when their representatives returned from the negotiations in Anchorage.

Details were not available this morning.

The strike wouldn't have affected Juneau unless it extended into the summer, Ellers said. There are seven union longshoremen in Juneau, who pull lines on cruise ships. The two barge lines in Juneau use nonunion workers.

In other cities, union dock workers would have continued to off-load essential supplies such as groceries and medicine during the strike, labor officials said Thursday.

Union leaders and a half-dozen shipping and service companies have been negotiating for the past nine months. Labor leaders said they reached an impasse when the latest contract did not include wages and benefits comparable to those given to some 10,000 dock workers in the Lower 48 and Canada.

The union said it was seeking a comparable agreement for both registered and casual longshore workers under the All Alaska Longshore Agreement.

Empire reporter Eric Fry contributed to this article.

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