Friday, July 26, 2019

Travellers on both sides of the A/B line caught up in the middle of labour dispute at Alaska Marine Highway System

The road was clear all the way to the AMHS gates this afternoon in
Prince Rupert with usual Friday line up of cars waiting to board nowhere
in sight owing to the disruption of Ferry service this week due to a strike

There was supposed to be a ferry sailing out of the Prince Rupert AMHS terminal today, part of the usual summer ritual of a Friday arrival/departure for the MV Malaspina.

However all was quiet at the Fairview Bay location this afternoon, the terminal gates open for customer inquiries, but the usual line up for departure non-existent after a Wednesday strike brought the service to a halt.

As we outlined on the blog on Wednesday evening, a walk out by members of the Inlandboatman's Union of the Pacific has brought the transit of ferry vessels along the Alaska panhandle and beyond to a halt, with the strike now entering its third day.

That job action has left for stranded passengers at both ends of the Prince Rupert - Ketchikan connection and as we heard through our twitter feed yesterday, the disruption has made for some frustration for those caught in the middle.

In a response to our Wednesday story on the strike, a twitter user from Calgary offered a glimpse of the situation from the Ketchikan end of the story, where he has been stranded and trying to find an alternative arrangements for both his family and that of his vehicle.

In subsequent updates, he has since noted that AMHS has not contact them since the original refund and offered no other assistance towards their situation. Noting that they have now decided to leave the State, rather than to wait to see what the eventual outcome of the dispute may be.

So far the running total to return home is $2,000 dollars for flights, $400 dollars in hotel room stays and $1000 to ship their car to Washington state where it can be retrieved.

In one of their observations on the theme, they noted that they would have preferred to have been able to put the car on a barge to Prince Rupert, but no service is available as far as they have been advised.

The AMHS Terminal at Fairview Bay was open but had few cars on site
as a strike has brought he service to halt along the coast

At the Prince Rupert end of the AMHS system, there are no doubt other similar stories evolving, where the gates to the Terminal were open today for customer inquiries as to what the state of the service was on what was supposed to be a sailing day out of Prince Rupert.

Passengers would not seem to have many options at the moment, some perhaps could begin the long journey along Highway 37 towards the far northern Alaska border, but that really won't be helpful for those living in coastal communities along the panhandle which rely on the AMHS service.

There was a large volume of campers in place at the Park Avenue
Campground today as travellers bound for Alaska re-evaluated their
travel plans on the third day of the AMHS strike

The situation does seem to have provided for some extra business for both the campground and area hotels, with a number of campers to be found at the Park Avenue campground today, the nearby Totem Lodge Motel on Park Avenue also had the Sorry No Vacancy sign lit up for those that may be looking for accommodation to ride out the strike.

Labour troubles for the AMHS system have rarely escalated to a full blow strike, with the last time the system faced a shutdown was over forty years ago in 1972.

But as the strike continues, there is little new information to be had for travellers as to the state of negotiations and the fate of the service, with no new advisories released through the AMHS site.

Updates on whether negotiations are set to resume also seem few and far between, with little in the way of guidance from the State government for residents of Southeast Alaska, or those travelling through it available.

Some of the impact of those caught in the middle of the dispute can be reviewed below:

Stranded family impacted by ferry strike
IBU strike shuts down Alaska ferries
Alaska ferries remain docked as strike over union contract endures
With statewide strike underway, legislators fear for Alaska ferries' long-term existence
As strike continues, ferry service stoppage has a big impact on coastal Alaska
Ferry strike disrupts travel to and from Southeast Alaska State Fair
Alaska ferry workers go on strike for first time in 42 years: 'We have tried and tried to work with the state'
Ferry workers strike continues; State says strike 'illegal'
All Alaska ferry service suspended as largest shipboard union strikes for first time since 1977

For more items of note related to the AMHS service in and out of Prince Rupert see our archive page.

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