Ferry riders upset over delays, canceled sailings

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by ERIC WILKINSON / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on October 25, 2012 at 5:15 PM

Updated Thursday, Oct 25 at 5:18 PM

People reliant on Washington State Ferries are complaining that canceled sailings are biting them where it hurts most ... in the pocketbook. 

“Yesterday, the most recent cancellation, the boat starts pulling away and we're sitting there in our vanpool. And as it's pulling away empty they make the announcement that the run is cancelled because of staffing issues,” regular ferry rider Frank Jacobson said Thurssday.

Like many riders, Jacobson counts on the ferries to get him to work at Boeing. Runs on the Mukilteo-Clinton line  were cancelled 6 times in 17 days this month. That means Jacobson missed meetings and business was delayed.

What's more, if you're more than 6 minutes late for work at Boeing, it comes out of an hourly worker's pay -- even if it's the ferry's fault.

“That hits them in their hourly salary,” said Jacobson. “They have to deduct that time from their sick or vacation time to get paid.”
 
The KING 5 Investigators found 58 ferry runs were delayed or cancelled this summer due to workers not showing up on time, compared with just 4 the year before.

Some believe ferry workers are engaging in a deliberate slow down in response to recent pay cuts. Others blame staff cuts and a Coast Guard rule that says a ferry can't set sail if just one member is a few minutes late.

On Wednesday, Gov. Chris Gregoire took the unusual move of ordering the head of the ferry system to report to her on a weekly basis. Today she told KING 5 the state can't keep letting the people down, saying, "The public needs to rely on that system, and we need to make sure it happens."

A joint letter from Washington State Ferries and the International Longshore Union reminded ferry workers to set their alarm clocks to help avoid further delays. (Read below.)

Joint WSF IBU Letter PDF PDF

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