The sea has the last word | Guest Column

There are numerous reasons why the ferry system is all screwed up. To blame it all on the pandemic is a stretch. The problems were online long before the pandemic and the mask issue. This mess all started with Tim Eyman and I -695. I -695 stripped Washington State Ferries of its entire operating budget. Car tabs were supposed to be $30 across the boards. Instead, I’m paying anywhere from $90-$300 to register my vehicles and ferry fares have increased eightfold to try to make up the difference. This was a Republican-championed initiative.

After the 2008–2009 Wall Street debacle, the Washington state legislature decided that people in the unions that run the ferries were the enemy. Cost of living, increases were dismissed as were pay raises. Seamen around the world traditionally get double time for holidays, pay and overtime. And in its infinite wisdom, the legislature decided to nix that and pay people time and a half as if working in a 7-Eleven. Furthermore, they said they would not help pay for license upgrades to mate or captain or chief engineers. That mistake was huge! Needless to say, employees were pissed. It’s not like you were getting rich working for WSF.

Once again, this was a big ha ha to the Republicans in the legislature who got their way. Next came the Supreme Court decision gutting public sector unions. Another Republican brain fart, aptly named “right to work law,” and another attempt to curtail union activity by depriving the union of dues money. Where are the new ferries people ask? How come there are no crewmembers to work the ferries people ask? How come there are no ferries at the ready in case one goes out of service? At the federal level, the Republicans don’t wanna vote for sleepy Joe’s build-back better infrastructure plan. Maybe they think the ferry system has some sort of socialist agenda.

Anyway, this little synopsis of mine comes way before the pandemic. As far as the pandemic is concerned, and the people who refuse to be vaccinated, – that was their decision. The only albatross you might be able to hang around the neck of a Democratic governor of the state is that they always appoint their friends to be CEO of the ferry system. And, by and large, these people have zero experience, running anything, let alone a system of boats and the inherent problems therein. Someone, somewhere in this schematic thinks that you can run this like a private corporation. You can’t. The sea always has the final Word.

Me? I’m just gonna blame the whole thing on Anthony Fauci…

Mike Herko,

San Juan Island