October 26th 2016

A delegation of union officials met with Alaska Governor Bill Walker and a top aide last week in Anchorage to discuss the controversial decision by Alyeska Pipeline to outsource the jobs of Crowley Maritime workers on Prince William Sound to a Louisiana firm with a disgraceful safety record.

MM&P President Don Marcus and International Boatmen’s Union (IBU) President Alan Coté were joined at the meeting by MM&P Regional Representative Shannon Adamson and IBU Regional Director-Alaska Joshua Stephenson.

Also present was Jim Whitaker, the governor’s chief of staff. The meeting took place on Oct. 17 in the governor’s offices.

The unions are asking Alaska public officials to intervene in Alyeska Pipeline’s bid to outsource the jobs of the Crowley workers who for three decades have manned the ship assist and oil spill prevention services in Valdez.

Pipeline management wants to replace Crowley with Edison Chouest, a non-union company whose last foray into Alaskan waters ended in the grounding of an oil rig, the KULLUK, in 2012.
In a related case, in 2010 an Edison Chouest subsidiary was found guilty of knowingly discharging waste oil in Antarctica. To settle that case, the company agreed to pay a $2.1 million criminal fine.

Alongside the risks to the environment, the unions say, the loss of 250 jobs would cause significant damage to the local economy of Valdez, which is home to many of the Crowley workers.

The union representatives pressed the governor to hold public hearings to determine on what basis the decision had been made to bring in the Louisiana firm—in particular in view of its spotty history–to replace Crowley, an incumbent with an excellent safety record.

“We are wondering why Crowley’s exemplary safety record and years of experience have been ignored,” said Coté.

“There is a disgraceful lack of transparency in the vetting process for this contract and there has been little or no input from the many stakeholders who rely on the resources of Prince William Sound.”

“The cumulative local knowledge of the current Crowley compliment of officers and deck crew and the proven capabilities of their equipment have a value far exceeding any perceived benefit of cost savings resulting from this reckless decision,” Marcus said.

In their fight to defend the jobs of union members on Prince William Sound, MM&P and the IBU have the full support of their partner unions in the Maritime Labor Alliance (MLA): the International Longshoremen’s Association, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, the Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association and the American Radio Association.

Presidents of the MLA unions have written to the Alaska Congressional delegation asking them to reverse the decision.