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HomeNewsArchivesVIPA Marine Employees Return to Work After Talks With Lt. Gov.

VIPA Marine Employees Return to Work After Talks With Lt. Gov.

V.I. Port Authority Marine Division employees who did not report to work Tuesday morning returned to work Tuesday afternoon after a noontime discussion with Lt. Gov. Gregory R. Francis.
The result of the absenteeism created havoc on St. Thomas and angered passengers of the five ships calling that day, according to merchants. (For more information, see "Five-Cruise Ship Day Jeopardized by VIPA Employee No-Shows.") Weddings scheduled for Tuesday almost didn’t happen, passengers did not have time for excursions, and merchants said they hadn’t yet tallied the toll on purchases.
Francis said in a telephone interview that he and the employees reached a gentleman’s agreement in which he would air the group’s grievances with being unable to reach a contract resolution with VIPA if they would get back to work.
Later Tuesday, marine employees did return to work, according to VIPA Executive Director Kenn Hobson.
The event had the attention of the territory and dominated Tuesday’s discussion over the airwaves, on the sidewalks, in jewelry counters and over meals, but without word from the employees, their grievance was the object of speculation.
A port employee, who spoke only on condition of anonymity, told the Source in an interview Wednesday that many nonmanagement employees in the Marine Division are troubled by the lack of resolution with their contract.
The Marine Division employees are represented by the Seafarers International Union of North America AFL-CIO (SIU). It has been four years since their contract expired, and many of the employees affected make less than $25,000 annually and have not received a raise or any bonus in the last four years, the employee said.
“First, we need to address the unfair attitude and outlook in blaming these employees,” the employee said. “No one has taken time to realize that these people are suffering. The whole crux is the negotiations. They were close to finalizing the contract, and the Port has refused to come to the table.”
Hobson concurred that, with the exception of economic issues (i.e., raises), most of the new contract negotiations are complete. Hobson said he believed the period since the old contract expired had been three years.
“Everybody is bound by the remaining articles of the agreement.” Hobson said.
The employees are dissatisfied with what they called the authority’s failure to return to the negotiating table and filed an Unfair Labor Practice Charge, despite orders from the Public Employees Labor Relation board for VIPA to return.
Hobson said that this order did not involve the SIU employees, but another union.
The marine division employees also sought the assistance of Sens. Louis P. Hill and Carlton Dowe over the lack of contract resolution, and they met with the governor as he disembarked from a seaplane trip to discuss the issue, according to the port employee.
These efforts did not yield any results, the employee said.
“This thing didn’t happen overnight,” the employee said. “This is a culmination of years of frustration, to go to all these sources looking for assistance and they don’t deliver.”

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V.I. Port Authority Marine Division employees who did not report to work Tuesday morning returned to work Tuesday afternoon after a noontime discussion with Lt. Gov. Gregory R. Francis.
The result of the absenteeism created havoc on St. Thomas and angered passengers of the five ships calling that day, according to merchants. (For more information, see "Five-Cruise Ship Day Jeopardized by VIPA Employee No-Shows.") Weddings scheduled for Tuesday almost didn’t happen, passengers did not have time for excursions, and merchants said they hadn’t yet tallied the toll on purchases.
Francis said in a telephone interview that he and the employees reached a gentleman’s agreement in which he would air the group’s grievances with being unable to reach a contract resolution with VIPA if they would get back to work.
Later Tuesday, marine employees did return to work, according to VIPA Executive Director Kenn Hobson.
The event had the attention of the territory and dominated Tuesday’s discussion over the airwaves, on the sidewalks, in jewelry counters and over meals, but without word from the employees, their grievance was the object of speculation.
A port employee, who spoke only on condition of anonymity, told the Source in an interview Wednesday that many nonmanagement employees in the Marine Division are troubled by the lack of resolution with their contract.
The Marine Division employees are represented by the Seafarers International Union of North America AFL-CIO (SIU). It has been four years since their contract expired, and many of the employees affected make less than $25,000 annually and have not received a raise or any bonus in the last four years, the employee said.
“First, we need to address the unfair attitude and outlook in blaming these employees,” the employee said. “No one has taken time to realize that these people are suffering. The whole crux is the negotiations. They were close to finalizing the contract, and the Port has refused to come to the table.”
Hobson concurred that, with the exception of economic issues (i.e., raises), most of the new contract negotiations are complete. Hobson said he believed the period since the old contract expired had been three years.
“Everybody is bound by the remaining articles of the agreement.” Hobson said.
The employees are dissatisfied with what they called the authority’s failure to return to the negotiating table and filed an Unfair Labor Practice Charge, despite orders from the Public Employees Labor Relation board for VIPA to return.
Hobson said that this order did not involve the SIU employees, but another union.
The marine division employees also sought the assistance of Sens. Louis P. Hill and Carlton Dowe over the lack of contract resolution, and they met with the governor as he disembarked from a seaplane trip to discuss the issue, according to the port employee.
These efforts did not yield any results, the employee said.
“This thing didn’t happen overnight,” the employee said. “This is a culmination of years of frustration, to go to all these sources looking for assistance and they don’t deliver.”