The potential for a work stoppage on the White Pass & Yukon (WP&Y) Route, a tourist railroad that operates between Alaska and Canada, has drawn the attention of media in Alaska as the results of a strike authorization vote are awaited.
SMART Transportation Division members in Local 1626 who work for the carrier and General Chairperson Jason Guiler have been negotiating a new contract with WP&Y since November 2017.
Union members want wages that keep pace with the inflation-fueled increases in the cost of living as well as retroactive pay for the nearly six-year period that the contract has been stagnant.
Meanwhile, the carrier is seeking to hike healthcare costs for its workers and to eliminate the brakeman position, thus reducing its workforce by one third and giving the conductor double the duties.
“Safety is the highest concern for SMART-TD, and we refuse to endorse or agree to the carrier’s proposal that puts passengers, employees and the public at risk,” Guiler said.
The ongoing strike vote has drawn the attention of regional media outlets in the area. Both KHNS and KTOO have reported on the potential of a work stoppage. Results are of the authorization vote are expected on Friday.
WP&Y is the largest private employer in Skagway, with a population of close to 1,200 people in southeast Alaska. The carrier is owned by an investment group that includes the Carnival Corp. cruise line.