Denali bus drivers take strike vote

Posted: Sunday, July 20, 2008

ANCHORAGE - Bus drivers who take thousands of tourists over the road threading Denali National Park are voting on a possible strike, according to officials from the Teamsters Union.

Teamsters Local 959 represents 121 drivers who operate all of the shuttle and tour buses that operate in Denali, home to Mount McKinley, North America's tallest peak at 20,320 feet.

If the Teamsters go ahead with the strike, tourist traffic through the national park could be in jeopardy, according to union officials.

A collective bargaining agreement with Aramark/Doyon Ltd., the joint venture that runs lodges, bus tours and other services in the park, expired Feb. 1.

Efforts to renegotiate the drivers' wage contract have been unsuccessful but negotiations continue, according to union and company officials said. Still undecided is back wages owed to drivers as the result of a May 2 arbitration agreement, according to the Teamsters.

"It's an issue that's been burning with the drivers for 10 years," said Rick Boyles, chief negotiator for the bus drivers.

The vote will be counted at noon Monday, he said. The proposal is to authorize the union to call a strike if contract negotiations are unsuccessful.

If drivers authorize a strike, "We would try to ensure continued service," said Kristin Growe, a spokeswoman for Philadelphia-based Aramark.

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