Several weeks ago we posted a request from Dan Twohig, an employee of WSF. Dan and other employees were invited to meet with our governor to brainstorm ideas for ways WSF could save money. In turn, Dan asked for public input, promising to share what was shared with the governor. Dan sent out following update last night.
As you know, a few weeks ago, the Governor met with the maritime unions to address problems at WSF. We met specifically to see if we could find ways to reduce or eliminate the missed sailings due to crewing issues that have plagued us all summer after the vessel crew reductions in June which produced considerable bad press damaging our relationship with the public. She also talked about the increased manning that was coming due to a review by the USCG that was requested by WSF management and how we would pay for it.
After the disastrously ill-conceived push by WSF management to get the USCG to lower the manning on the ferries. The Coast Guard did their job in an appropriate manner and analyzed our manning based on a new metric that took into account the r egulatory changes since the Exxon Valdez incident in 1989 and the increase in safety and security duties following 9/11. Then, instead of lowering the manning, they increased the minimums according to the new guidelines. The results of this manning review will make the ferries and the travelling public more safe and secure for decades to come.
The new minimum manning Certificate of Inspection (COI) levels go into effect across the fleet this week and will result in the creation of about 60-70 family wage jobs aboard the vessels when running at peak service levels in the summer. Creating jobs in this economy is a good thing; however they must be funded from the already thin WSF operating budget. These new crew members will not come without cost. In fact the cost is significant. Finding places to conserve our resources will be increasingly important.
The Governor asked the maritime unions for suggestions to save money at WSF to help pay for the increased manning and she asked that this paper be placed on her desk and not filtered through WSF HQ. It is my understanding this paper was delivered to her in Olympia last week.
The maritime unions (MM&P, MEBA and IBU), with the assistance of the public ( the FACs and the Ferry/Community Partnership) gathered ideas, categorized them, evaluated and fleshed out the winners for the first round of money saving suggestions. These ideas if implemented could more than pay for the additional crew that have been mandated. Attached are the money saving suggestions that were sent to the Governor last week along with some back-up data. Just item number one, if implemented fleet wide, would save tens of millions of dollars in the operating budget annually.
You asked to see these suggestions when they went out and here they are. Thank you for your assistance in compiling them; this was truly a cooperative effort. There are many, many more good ideas in the pile and we will continue to develop them as we continue to try to improve WSF. We are all stewards of the tax payer’s dollars and I hope that when they come up again, you have the opportunity to ask the right questions and find support for these changes at WSF.
Please do take the time to download the linked file of suggestions. There are some very interesting ideas here. Thanks to all of you who took the time to share your thoughts with Dan.