Skagit County Seeks Partnership to Move Toward Ferry Union Resolution

Skagit County Seeks Partnership to Move Toward Ferry Union Resolution

On May 1, 2023, the Guemes Island Ferry did not operate due to a strike by the Inlandboatman’s Union of the Pacific (IBU). The Union’s self-proclaimed one-day strike to deny service came without advance notice to the County, and after the County submitted a request for mediation on March 7, 2023.

Reliability of the Guemes Island Ferry and safety for the workers and users of the ferry is of the utmost concern for Skagit County.

Skagit County is deeply frustrated that the strike occurred after the County had asked repeatedly for mediation of the contract and addressed the issue of scheduling.

The Coast Guard long ago made a determination about the appropriate staffing levels and hours of work to maintain safe operation of the ferry service. The County remains committed to providing appropriate staffing and scheduling of ferry workers.

The ferry manager expressed to all staff and union members on April 18, 2023, that the request for review of the schedule concern claims would be undertaken and the matter would be resolved through the appropriate legal process.

The County has made an unprecedented comprehensive offer of wage increases and is willing to mediate to reach a contract with the Union. The amount paid to a consultant over seventeen years of service for assistance in negotiation of numerous county contracts is not a misuse of public funds and does not limit the County’s ability to provide a fair wage to the ferry workers.

“The County does not take this situation lightly,” said Ron Wesen, Skagit County Board of Commissioners Chair. “We understand that this unexpected service closure has greatly impacted those living on the Island. The County is doing everything in our power to ensure that ferry workers and residents of Guemes Island are provided safe and dependable transport.”

Said Commissioner Peter Browning: “It is imperative that IBU join us at the table. The only way forward is through open communication between the parties involved.”

“Our focus continues to be on resolution,” said Commissioner Lisa Janicki. “We are incredibly disappointed that IBU has not joined us in working toward this goal. We are hopeful that, following this event, the County and the Union will be able to work toward common ground.”

The County remains committed to the process of providing fair wages and working conditions with appropriate scheduling that provides for safety of ferry workers and users now and for the future. The County hopes the Union will join in using the legal methods available to complete that process.

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County Commissioners: Lisa Janicki, Peter Browning, Ron Wesen
1800 Continental Place, Suite 100
Mount Vernon, WA 98273

Source: Email Skagit County 05.01.2023 3:01 PM