Conservative Political Action Conference Cruise Picketed over Labor Dispute

The cruise ship Westerdam anchored in Gastineau Channel Monday. Photo by Casey Kelly, KTOO - Juneau.

Unions chose to picket the a cruise ship full of well-known conservatives when it docked in Juneau yesterday.  The Westerdam is carrying Donald Rumsfeld, Grover Norquist, Ralph Reed and other political conservatives and their fans through Alaska waters.  And members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 200 were there to say Holland America Lines ought to be using union boats to bring their passengers to shore.  Dennis Young, President of Local 200’s Unit 16, says the cruise lines have been using crew members instead and the union wants that practice ended:

“They can continue to stall spit and sputter, but we will be taking this as far as we have to to protect our U.S. long shore workers’ rights.”

Alaska Cruise Association President John Binkley says the cruise lines are in compliance with federal law and the union is trying to get something back it bargained away.

“My understanding is that through the collective bargaining process, they’ve agreed not to do the work on the tenders and the smaller vessels and that was bargained away for other wages or benefits over the years, and now I think they want to go outside the collective bargaining system to try and take over that work.”

Young disputes that and says there is a point of law involved:

“They’re picking and choosing how to follow the contract when they hire a stevedoring company to perform U.S. long shore work, and they’re picking and choosing how they’re going to follow immigration act law.”

Cruise ship crew members are not necessarily U.S. citizens.

Among the activities for the conservative cruisers yesterday was a speech by Governor Sean Parnell.

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Casey Kelly is a reporter at KTOO in Juneau.