Ferry Union Statement

Skagit County managers are risking the health and safety of ferry crew and passengers through illegal changes to crew scheduling, for which the County now faces state charges brought against it under state law. Crew members are forced to quit over County managers chaotic and unprofessional scheduling, switching crew from days to nights with little or no notice or chance to adequately rest to maintain safe conditions. The County threatens our Guemes Island Ferry service we all count on. How long until inadequate staffing through mismanagement means a reduction in ferry service or worse? Enough is enough! The County should stop breaking state law and sign a fair union contract with ferry workers that prevents such legal violations in the first place. Let's retain enough crew members to serve the public. That's what our tax dollars pay for. We should invest in adequate staffing, not the County's expensive lawyers and consultants who have already cost us almost $500,000 over a decade. Please call the County Commissioners and tell them to Save Our Guemes Island ferry: stop breaking state law and sign a fair contract with crew members now.


Please join our union brothers and sisters and our allies in speaking up for fair wages and a fair contract.

Ferry workers’ starting wage up $2.95 an hour since 2009

FACT 1: Guemes Island Ferry crew members have been working without a contract since Jan. 1, 2022.

FACT 2*: Ferry workers’ wages do not come from fares, but from other county revenues. [See note below]

FACT 3: Our proposed contract includes a wage adjustment for 2022 to make up for past substandard increases. But the county offered ferry workers a 2 percent wage increase for 2023 and 2024 while offering workers in other county departments 3 percent. 

FACT 4: The starting hourly wage for ferry workers has increased $2.95 in 14 years. The starting wage was $18.43 in 2009; $19.56 in 2016; $20.15 in 2019; and $21.38 in 2021, according to past labor agreements on file. 

FACT 5: The county’s lead negotiator, Robert Braun, who has been paid about $500,000 over the last 10 years to negotiate the county’s union contracts, has resorted to various tactics to wear down union workers. In past negotiations, he’s threatened to withhold retroactive pay if workers didn’t approve the county’s offer; he’s failed to show up at scheduled negotiation sessions; he’s sought mediation instead of negotiation; and he’s now sitting on the ferry workers’ latest counteroffer.

FACT 6: In negotiating the 2022-24 contract, the county has withdrawn an increase in pay for responding to after-hours emergency callouts. 

FACT 7: Ferry workers’ wages have not kept pace with the cost of living in Anacortes, making it difficult to recruit and retain deckhands. Several crew members live farther away where housing is more affordable. One consequence of that is it takes longer for us to respond to after-hours calls, something that concerns us as maritime professionals.  

FACT 8: The median rent in Anacortes in 2017-20 was $1,360, according to the 2020 U.S. Census. A worker earning a starting hourly wage at the ferry could, according to U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development standards, afford monthly rent of $1,111 at the time. Housing costs have increased since 2017-20 while wages have remained stagnant.

FACT 9: The current starting hourly wage at the ferry, at 40 hours per week, equals $44,470 a year. The average income in Anacortes in 2017-20 was $46,107, according to the 2020 U.S. Census. 



Please write or call your county officials and tell them you want Guemes Island Ferry workers to be paid a livable wage: 

Commissioner Ron Wesen, District 1: 360-416-1300, commissioners@co.skagit.wa.us

Commissioner Peter Browning, District 2: 360-416-1300, commissioners@co.skagit.wa.us

Commissioner Lisa Janicki, District 3: 360-416-1300, commissioners@co.skagit.wa.us

Human Resources Director Bonnie Beddall, 360-416-1381, bonnieb@co.skagit.wa.us

Public Works Director Grace Kane, 360-416-1456, 360-333-9246, gracek@co.skagit.wa.us


*FACT 2: Ferry workers’ wages do not come from fares, but from other county revenues.

FACT 2 is an incorrect statement... User Fares are responsible for 65% of Wages and Benefits of crew and administrators.

$1,279,921 for 2021
Div. 004 - Ferry (page 14)
Expenditures 2021 Actual
Obj. 510 - Salaries & Wages $899,302.68
Obj. 520 - Personnel Benefits $380,619.76
-Allen Bush, Ferry Committee
Tags: ferry