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“DEFUNDING ALASKA FERRIES WILL CAUSE LONG-TERM HARM TO THE STATE AND ITS CITIZENS,” MARITIME LABOR ALLIANCE WARNS

November 14th 2019

The campaign by Alaska’s Republican governor to defund and privatize the Alaska Marine Highway System will do irreparable harm to residents of coastal communities and to the state as a whole.

The Maritime Alliance unions warn of the consequences of the plan—which is already being put into effect–in the November 2019 issue of their newsletter, “Delivering the Goods.”

Today, all but three of the 11 AMHS ferries have been laid up, and the future of the entire system is in doubt.

Critics say Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R)–now the object of a recall campaign–pushed through the defunding plan to further his own short-term goals.

“It doesn’t take a political scientist to understand his motivations,” the MLA unions write.

“It is all too clear that the ferry system—a first-rate government service–is losing the funding it needs to serve a portion of the state population that in many locations is isolated, underprivileged and less vocal.”

“In short, it is an easy political target.”

Ferries are the only transportation available to many residents of Alaska’s island communities.

Hundreds of Alaskans have rallied in the state capital, Juneau, to protest the cuts and the governor’s plan to privatize the AMHS.

“A privately operated for-profit ferry service of sufficient magnitude to serve these communities is destined to fail,” the unions say.

“Public services are just that—services to the public. Ferry services, like highways, city transit systems and public services, are rarely positioned to be self-sustaining or to generate profits.”

The governor has also pushed through deep cuts in education, health care and other social services.

In the meantime, Alaskans have set a record with their “Recall Dunleavy” campaign, collecting over 49,000 signatures in just four weeks.

The MLA member unions are: the American Radio Association, the Inlandboatmen’s Union of the Pacific, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, the Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association and Masters, Mates & Pilots.

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