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Port of Seattle looks to protect workers by delaying cruise season indefinitely

A cruise ship on the Seattle waterfront. (KIRO 7 image)

The Port of Seattle announced earlier this week that the cruise season is being delayed indefinitely because of this health crisis. That could be a $900 million hit to our economy.

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Port Commissioner Peter Steinbrueck said there wasn’t any other option but to close the cruise season. Canada had already shut down its season until July 1, so ships that would have left here would not have had any stops in Vancouver, B.C.  This was the only move, despite the cruise industry supporting 5,500 jobs.

There is also the freight side of port operations. Steinbrueck said the doors are open, but the prospects aren’t great.

“We are operational and functioning, but the business of the Port is experiencing a significant downturn,” he said.

The Port of Seattle is expected to get some money from the federal bailout package. Steinbrueck said that will go a long way to help the bottom line, especially at the airport.

“We’re seeing as much as an 80% drop-off in passenger emplanements at Sea-Tac,” he said. “There’s huge significant impacts there, and this $10 billion package, we expect some of that will come to help us.”

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So, what about employees?

Steinbrueck said they are working on plans to protect as many employees as they can.

“We have just passed a revision to our employment policies that allows for extended leave and extended sick leave, and we will do everything possible to retain all of our workforce at the Port.”

He doesn’t expect any layoffs, with Steinbrueck intimating that he wants to avoid them at all costs.

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