Alcatraz ferry workers strike for fair wages as SF summer tourism season starts

Luz Pena Image
Tuesday, May 28, 2024
Alcatraz ferry workers strike as SF summer tourism season starts
Alcatraz City Cruises workers are striking for fair wages as San Francisco's summer tourism season is just getting started.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Alcatraz Island attracts more than a million visitors to San Francisco every year.

The Rock is a dream destination for many tourist like Sean Thompson from Maryland who waited decades for this. "Probably 25 years," said Thompson.

We met Jennifer Scott from Florida right after she made that dream a reality with her family. "This was kind of one of families bucket list trips that we wanted to do. Alcatraz was the main thing we wanted to accomplish while we were here, said Scott.

Brian Dobruck is one of the captains for the cruises. On Saturday, 94 union workers went on a four-hour strike to push Alcatraz City Cruises to listen to their demands.

"We are just asking for fair wages. Throughout the Bay, most of the other ferry companies are represented by unions and they all have a decent pay, and we would like to maintain or keep up with what other companies are getting paid," said Dobruck.

Robert Estrada, national president of the Inlandboatmen's Union of the Pacific explains the groups demands. "We've had our economic proposal on the table literally for months now and they were supposed to bring an economic response to us on the 23rd and they did not," said Estrada. "Combination of things between wages, benefits, medical and simple things like scheduling. These folks don't know what their schedule is a week in advance. They cant plan their lives, they cant take vacations."

In a statement, Antonette Sespene, general manager for Alcatraz City Cruises said in part: "We are disappointed the Union would threaten our passengers, partners and the community with a potential disruption of those services."

Supervisor Aaron Peskin represents the district where the cruise line is located. He views these negotiations as vital for San Francisco tourism.

"It is time for Alcatraz Cruises to stop stalling and to enter into a contract. The labor folks have been extremely reasonable. We need peace on our waterfront," said Supervisor Peskin.

Luz Pena: "Are you concerned that there could be another strike?

Aaron Peskin: "Yes, I'm very concerned. Its not good for the workers, its not good for the tourists and for San Francisco's economy. The union is hoping to reach an agreement by June 4."

Alcatraz City Cruises full statement:

"Attributed To Antonette Sespene, General Manager Alcatraz City Cruises Alcatraz City Cruises is currently engaged, and have been since January 2023, in negotiations with the organization representing our valued crew members. We are disappointed the Union would threaten our passengers, partners and the community with a potential disruption of those services. Please take comfort that this had no impact on our operations. We are committed to continuing to bargain in good faith and are working diligently with our crew to reach a mutually beneficial agreement. Indeed, at our last bargaining session, the parties reached an important Tentative Agreement on how we will operate and provide our excellent service to Alcatraz Island. Our goal is to ensure the best possible outcome for our Crew and the millions of guests we serve each year, maintaining the highest standards of service and experience for our guests."

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