Alaska longshore union votes to ratify new contract
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.