Ross: Failing to rehire unvaccinated WSF workers more about saving face than lives

Aug 24, 2022, 6:25 AM

(Washington State Ferries)...

(Washington State Ferries)

(Washington State Ferries)

Every time I hear about a ferry trip being canceled due to a crew shortage, I feel sad. Because I know there are crew members who could still be working if only they’d gotten vaccinated two years ago.

And I don’t see why they can’t just be rehired.

Ferry riders aren’t expecting a return to the old schedule. They know ridership is still way down. But to have to cancel runs even on the reduced schedule – for lack of crew – tells me something’s not working. Delays are part of the ferry lifestyle – that’s why you keep a few books in the car – but lately, you need an encyclopedia.

Staffing woes to blame for ‘chaotic’ weekend of Washington ferry cancellations

And while I appreciate the effort to recruit new employees for the future – you need something now.

So, my suggestion would be to send a bouquet of roses to each of the 121 ferry system employees who were separated for lack of a COVID shot and attach a fancy card offering to rehire them.

This might be awkward. Not all will accept. But even if it brings back only ten or 20 – it means fewer runs have to be canceled.

I realize most Democrats won’t like this idea, because Republicans, of course, will say, “told ya so – the vaccine mandates went too far.” But Democrats can simply remind them that they’re the party that’s been claiming you could cut state government by 30% and everything would be fine. Well, the ferry staff cuts were only 10% – and things are clearly not fine.

WSDOT accounts for 21% of state employees fired over vaccine mandate

So, you’re even.

The vaccine policy may have been necessary in 2019. But now? It looks like it’s more about saving face than solving the problem.

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Ross: Failing to rehire unvaccinated WSF workers more about saving face than lives