Alaska’s ferry system was shut down for a second straight day last week, due to a boat workers strike, who protest about stalled contract talks and big budget cuts imposed by the governor. Namely, about 420 members of the Inlandboatman’s Union of the Pacific (IBU) walked off the job on July 24, after three years of labor negotiations with the state-run Alaska Marine Highway System hit a dead-end.
As Reuters reports, the strike comes at the peak of summer vacation season, a fact that could damage tourism across the southeastern Alaska.
Commenting on the strike, Governor Mike Dunleavy’s administration decried it, saying that ‘it will be detrimental to negotiations and is going to seriously harm the communities and Alaskans served by the ferry system.’
On the other hand, IBU President Marina Secchitano, said that Dunleavy, a Republican who took office earlier this year, tried to roll back concessions previously won by the union while cutting $44 million from the ferry’s operating budget.
Namely, Dunleavy suggested a reduction in ferry system spending about twice as deep, as well as a complete shutdown of ferry service in winter, according to Secchitano.
Moreover, a further $440 million in state spending cuts that Dunleavy imposed through line-item budget vetoes last month are also beginning to show their impact.