Golden Gate Ferry service resumes; Strike cancelled

July 1, 2011 11:35:34 AM PDT
Golden Gate ferries are running today after a one-day strike was called off at the start of the morning commute.

However, there were a lot of mixed signals and it was a confusing day for riders. Behind the scenes contract negotiations went public in a disastrous confusing way. The strike was announced late Thursday, so commuters like Ken Hartley did not find out until they arrived at the ferry terminal around 4:30 a.m. Friday.

"That's bad. So then, I can't get home today. Well, I guess I better drive in today," he said when he found out about the strike.

Just as he was driving into the city, the situation changed again. Chris Yoshida was listening to the news in her car, so she was able to adapt.

"I was on my way in. I heard there was going to be a strike and then wasn't going to be a strike," she recalled. "I don't know. It was crazy. I don't know even why they were striking. It was just flash news. It wasn't well-publicized I guess."

Commuters were not the only ones confused. Some ferry employees showed up for work and they did not even know there was a strike. It turns out the threatened strike was really a negotiating tactic.

"It was to get an agreement," IBU spokesperson Marina Secchitano said.

However, it did not work. After the union put out a press release about the strike, bridge officials announced service was cancelled for the day because of the strike. Union officials were stunned.

"In my 30 years, I've never seen an employer take that tact," Secchitano said.

They called off the strike saying they did not want to inconvenience anyone, but of course by then, commuters were caught in the middle.

"They issued a press release that stated they would be on strike this morning from 4 a.m. to 10 p.m.," said Mary Currie with the Golden Gate Bridge District. "Apparently, through the evening, they had a change of heart and they are not going to strike today, and we will be running service. And, we just want to say how unfortunate it is for our customers, that the Inland Boatmen's Union felt it was the right way to go and call a strike, then call the strike off."

Ferries ran without any problems, but commuters say that in the future, they would really rather not be part of these labor negotiations.

"I depend upon this mode of transportation to get to work so, they just need to work it out. Work it out on a Saturday or Sunday if you can," said commuter Pete Scanlan.

The sticking point is that in about one week, people will soon be replaced by machines. Passengers will not see the ticket takers any more, but they will see a ticket machine. Both sides are expected to return to the negotiation table next week.

No further strikes are being threatened or planned.


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