Winter in Unalaska by Sam Zmolek
Your voice in the Aleutians.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
The KUCB Newsroom provides newscasts Monday through Thursday at noon and 5 PM on KUCB Radio. You can find many of our local news stories here.

Alaska longshore union votes to ratify new contract

Hope McKenney
Approximately 140 members of the union work in the International Port of Dutch Harbor, with around 200 more workers around Alaska.

The International Longshore and Warehouse Alaska Longshore Division voted late last week to adopt a new contract after nearly two years of negotiations.

Union leaders reached a tentative agreement in June, but union members are the ones who ultimately voted to approve it.

“All ports have voted in support for ratification,” said Alaska Division President Dennis Young in a statement.

The statement said over 70% of rank and file members voted in favor of the agreement.

Approximately 140 members of the union work in the International Port of Dutch Harbor, with around 200 more workers around the state.

Eric Southworth, the president of the Dutch Harbor local, said that while Dutch Harbor voted in favor of the agreement, it was a close vote.

“In Dutch Harbor alone, we had 60 ‘yes’ votes and 47 ‘no’ votes,” Southworth said. “Honestly, I was expecting it to be about 50/50.”

Southworth said it was a challenge to accommodate multiple industries across such a large state, where work varies greatly from port to port. For example, while work in Southeast Alaska may involve a lot of cruise ships, other communities rely on industries such as fishing or shipping.

“Due to this vast array of work in different ports all over the state, it's really hard to have one blanket contract that covers the needs of everybody,” he said.

The new contract reflects considerable increases in wages and benefits, including a nearly $15 raise in the base rate, plus a significant increase in pension benefits.

Not everybody got what they wanted, however. Southworth said there were some high expectations among members that were not met, but said he’s happy with the result.

“I feel good about what we got,” Southworth said. “We got a lot more than I was even expecting sitting there at the table.”

Union representatives are expected to meet again in the coming days to finalize the contract, which will last through June 2028.

Theo Greenly reports from the Aleutians as a Report for America corps member. He got his start in public radio at KCRW in Santa Monica, California, and has produced radio stories and podcasts for stations around the country.
Related Content
  • The union representing longshore workers in Dutch Harbor — as well as the rest of the state — reached a tentative bargaining agreement Friday evening, following nearly 18 months of negotiations.
  • Lila Roll has been with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union since 2001. It’s taken her years to climb the ladder to become a road driver, the highest qualification for drivers. She says that qualification is the prerequisite to train to operate a top pick, a large piece of machinery designed to pick up and move large shipping containers. Roll has spent the last two weeks learning how to operate the machine. And even though it’s taken her years to qualify for this training, it will still take a number of years to truly become proficient. The union is racing to train people for all sorts of equipment, because many of the top-skilled workers are retiring.
  • The International Longshore and Warehouse Union announced in a statement Thursday that they won’t touch Russian ships or cargo. ILWU President Willie Adams said in the statement that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine prompted the action. “With this action in solidarity with the people of Ukraine, we send a message that we unequivocally condemn the Russian invasion,” Adams said.