MYNORTHWEST NEWS

Guemes Island Ferry staff strike for one day, back in service Tuesday

May 2, 2023, 12:26 PM

skagit guemes fery shutdown...

Guemes Island ferry terminal (Photo from Flickr)

(Photo from Flickr)

The Guemes Island ferry was out of service Monday due to a worker’s strike.

Skagit County’s transportation managers said it is supposed to be a one-day labor action, and the ferry should be running again Tuesday.

Starbucks union calls for strikes, pickets ahead of shareholder meeting


Ferry workers with the Inlandboatman’s Union of the Pacific (IBU) say that county managers are illegally changing the ferry crew’s schedule, which they said threatens the health and safety of the crew.

“Crewmembers are forced to quit over County managers’ chaotic and unprofessional scheduling, switching crew from days to nights with little or no notice or chance to adequately rest to maintain safe working conditions,” the union said. “The county threatens our Guemes Island Ferr service we all count on- how long until inadequate staffing through mismanagement means a reduction in ferry service or worse.”


The IBU has been operating without a contract in Skagit County since its contract expired in 2019 without a new agreement. A Memorandum of Agreement was reached in 2020, which had a slight boost to wages, about 2%, and started a compensation program for adequate footwear on the job.

The memorandum expired in 2022, and the union and the county have been negotiating a new contract since.

In February, the union voted unanimously to reject the latest contract offer from the county.

“The ferry’s negotiating team and the (Inlandboatmen’s Union) said the county has long failed to manage ferry revenue and expenses in a way that has affected its ability to provide wages that keep pace with the cost of living,” the union said in a statement.

A big sticking point for the union has been the contract’s inability to meet the region’s rising cost of living, which has forced some employees to live further away from the station. This can cause issues, as the ferry is not staffed full-time, which in an emergency, can cause ferry workers to have to rush back to work, which could delay critical service.

Crew members said other county workers are being offered 3% raises while ferry workers only get 2%.

The county said they did not receive any advanced notice of the strike. The county recently submitted a mediation request scheduled on March 7.

Contract negotiations are underway between the county and the Inlandboatman’s Union of the Pacific.

WA ferry system peak season surcharges begin Monday

Ferry management said they talked to staff and union members about scheduling concerns and that the issue would be resolved through the appropriate legal process

“The County does not take this situation lightly,” said Ron Wesen, Skagit County Board of Commissioners Chair. “We understand that this unexpected service closure has greatly impacted those living on the Island. The County is doing everything in our power to ensure that ferry workers and residents of Guemes Island are provided safe and dependable transport.”

“Our focus continues to be on resolution,” said Commissioner Lisa Janicki. “We are incredibly disappointed that IBU has not joined us in working toward this goal. We are hopeful that, following this event, the County and the Union will be able to work toward common ground.”

The ferry is back up and running on its normal schedule Tuesday.

MyNorthwest News

Photo: The Kent refugee camp on June 3, 2024....

Sam Campbell

‘Food is finished:’ Refugees in Kent call for help as health, food struggles remain

About 170 asylum-seeking refugees living at a camp in Kent have been moved into temporary housing over the course of a week.

6 hours ago

Image: A sign for a Big Lots store can be seen from outside the location June 7, 2024 in Hercules, ...

Steve Coogan

Big Lots to close 12 stores in Washington, about 140 nationwide

Discount retailer Big plans to close over 140 stores nationwide, including 12 out of 26 locations in the state of Washington.

7 hours ago

Image: Matt Driscoll, a columnist for The News Tribune, died suddenly at the age of 43 in July 2024...

Bill Kaczaraba

Columnist Matt Driscoll, the face of ‘Tacoma and Pierce County,’ dies at 43

Matt Driscoll, a fixture in the Tacoma newspaper community, has died. A columnist and opinion editor for the Tacoma News Tribune (TNT), Driscoll was 43 years old. “The humor, the witty banter, and wry observations are what brought us together,” Matt Driscoll’s wife Jennifer Driscoll told The Tacoma News Tribune. “We really clicked in that […]

9 hours ago

Tacoma woman refused TB treatment...

Julia Dallas

Tacoma woman who refused tuberculosis treatment now healthy: ‘She’s cured!’

A Tacoma woman who refused TB treatment for months last year is now healthy. Health officials announced she is officially "cured."

10 hours ago

Commercial truck narrowly misses oncoming traffic in Bellevue....

Bill Kaczaraba

Watch: Wild ride from commercial truck driver leaves Bellevue drivers holding their breath

It was a close call at Main Street and 112 Street Northeast in Bellevue Tuesday morning, leaving Bellevue drivers feeling lucky they were not hit.

11 hours ago

lea hill shooting...

Luke Duecy

1 injured as shooting erupts in Auburn’s Lea Hill neighborhood; arrest made

The Auburn Police Department is investigating a shooting early Tuesday in the city's Lea Hill neighborhood that left one woman injured.

14 hours ago

Guemes Island Ferry staff strike for one day, back in service Tuesday