Ross: We need our ferries fully staffed to stay afloat, even if it means dropping vaccine mandates

Aug 3, 2022, 6:47 AM

ferries vaccine mandate staffing...

(Photo by Karen Ducey/Getty Images)

(Photo by Karen Ducey/Getty Images)

Yesterday it happened again – the already-crippled ferries running from West Seattle had to be cut down to one boat because of mechanical problems. The Cathlamet’s fender-bender has revealed what ferry workers, and legislators from ferry-dependent districts, have been warning about for years:

The ferry system has no real backup plan.

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And losing 132 ferry employees to the vaccine mandate obviously made it worse. It doesn’t matter whether those fired workers were in the wheelhouse, or on the car deck. The Coast Guard rules say if you’re missing a deckhand–you can’t sail.

And there’s been a lot of not-sailing going on lately.

I remember we used to take pride in having the largest ferry system in the US – and how we treated the ferries like just another highway.

But these days it’s a highway that’s suddenly missing a lot of its bridges.

I know it would be hard for the governor to change his mind and drop the vaccine policy. I know it would look like he’s caving to his conservative critics.

But the way I see it – those critics are the ones who’ve given in. They’re the same people who’ve been arguing for years that you could cut the state workforce by – name your percentage – 15%, 30%, 40% – and no one would notice.

Well, the vaccine mandate cut state employment by about 4%. Not 40, not 14, just 4%. And even with that measly 4% cut – we’re all noticing!

Turns out we need those government employees after all! The state troopers. The prison guards. The social and health workers, and the deckhands.

A measly 4% cut and even conservatives now want more government employees.

Which is even more surprising when you consider those government employees were basically saying “my body my choice.”

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News with Dave Ross and Colleen O’Brien weekday mornings from 5 – 9 a.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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