Tentative deal reached on ferry union contract

JUNEAU (AP) — The state announced Monday that it had reached tentative agreement on a new, three-year contract with the largest union representing Alaska Marine Highway System workers. Terms must be approved by the Inland Boatmen’s Union of the Pacific and the state Legislature.

A Department of Administration spokesman said talks were continuing with the other two marine unions, the International Organization of Masters, Mates and Pilots and the Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association.

The tentative agreement calls for a 1-percent pay raise starting July 1, 2015, and a 2-percent increase the following year. It also calls for members to pay $100 annually to use the ferry on stand-by status, a benefit the regional director of the Inlandboatmen’s Union of the Pacific, Ricky Deising, said extends to immediate family. Previously, workers and retirees and their families received free passage on ferries on a stand-by basis. He said the proposal would not affect current retirees.

Administration Commissioner Curtis Thayer said workers would not have to pay the fee unless they wanted the pass.

The union represents about 600 crewmen on the ferries. Members had authorized a strike, if one was deemed necessary.