Connect with us

Bay Area

Alcatraz Ferry Workers Want to Unionize

If the workers do secure a union, it won’t be the first time Alcatraz ferry workers have been unionized. The companies that had operated the ferry from its opening in 1973 until 2006, had always hired union workers. But when Hornblower Group took over the ferry in 2006, they set up Alcatraz Cruises, an operation that representation for ferry workers, and the Alcatraz ferry workers have been nonunion since then.

Published

on

“I’m concerned for the safety and well-being of my co-workers and the guests,” said an Alcatraz ferry worker, who asked not to be named due to fears of retaliation. “I really feel the union would have our back and give us an added protection.” (Photo: iStockphoto / Post News Group)
“I’m concerned for the safety and well-being of my co-workers and the guests,” said an Alcatraz ferry worker, who asked not to be named due to fears of retaliation. “I really feel the union would have our back and give us an added protection.” (Photo: iStockphoto / Post News Group)

By Zack Haber | Post News Group

Workers who operate and provide services to customers riding the ferry that runs from San Francisco’s Pier 33 to Alcatraz Island are attempting to form a union.

“I think if we formed a union this would be a happy place,” said Erik Anfinson, who works as a captain with Alcatraz Cruises, which operates the ferry. “We used to have that, but now it’s gone.”

Anfinson feels that working conditions and morale have deteriorated since the ferry reopened post-COVID. He’s one of 68 workers who signed a letter in mid-July asking Hornblower Group, the company that runs Alcatraz Cruises, to recognize their union. About 85 employees, according to Anfinson, work at the ferry. These employees include other captains, as well as deckhands, maintenance, ticket booth, and food and beverage workers.

Hornblower Group has chosen not to honor the workers’ request for them to voluntarily recognize their union.

“We enjoy and value being able to directly communicate with our employees, and believe that the company, our employees and our guests are better served when such communications occur directly between the company and its employees rather than through any third party, including a labor organization,” reads a statement that Hornblower Group Vice President of Communications Melissa Gunderson emailed to this reporter.

Ultimately, the workers are attempting to unionize by joining the Inlandboatmen’s Union of the Pacific, which is also known as the IBU, and is a part of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU). A recent post on an Instagram account representing the proposed Alcatraz ferry union says, “We are organizing because we deserve fair scheduling, predictable raises, job security, adequate training, respect and a seat at the table.”

For the union drive to be successful, workers will have to go through a formal vote organized by the National Labor Review Board. They currently are working through that process and hope to unionize in coming weeks.

If the workers do secure a union, it won’t be the first time Alcatraz ferry workers have been unionized. The companies that had operated the ferry from its opening in 1973 until 2006, had always hired union workers. But when Hornblower Group took over the ferry in 2006, they set up Alcatraz Cruises, an operation that opposes representation for ferry workers, and the Alcatraz ferry workers have been nonunion since then.

Anfinson hopes that a union contract will help him secure some stability with his work schedule. He says his work hours change from week to week in an unpredictable manner.

“I want to know when I can make doctor and dentist appointments,” he said. “Not having a set schedule makes it tough, you can’t plan anything.”

In her email, Gunderson, of Hornblower, attributed the unpredictability to problems related to COVID, but said that the situation is now becoming better.

“Like most employers across a host of industries, the pandemic caused staffing challenges at Alcatraz City Cruises, and this issue was compounded by unpredictable government restrictions and related tourist demand that rapidly changed with COVID variants,” said Gunderson’s email.

Gunderson did not respond when asked to provide current and pre-COVID staff numbers. According to Anfinson, Alcatraz Cruises has less than half the employees it had before COVID, which forces him and other workers to take on more tasks and work longer hours than they used to.

“They don’t want to hire more employees, and I don’t know why,” said Anfinson. “I think they’re just trying to cut back on everything.”

An Alcatraz ferry worker, who asked not to be named due to fears of retaliation, told this reporter they feel a union could help workers secure safer working conditions and a smoother, safer operation for customers. Workers expressed frustration at unnecessary ferry delays that occur multiple times a week and described sewage lines backing up and overflowing at least three times this year.

“I’m concerned for the safety and well-being of my co-workers and the guests,” said the worker. “I really feel the union would have our back and give us an added protection.”

A worker criticized the company for hiring two business consultants they say have been talking with staff to dissuade them from unionizing. The consultants work for The Redd Group, a company that lists “union prevention” as a service it offers on its website. The worker wishes the money Hornblower spends on consultants could go elsewhere.

“That money would be better spent doing permanent repair work on our boats,” the worker said.

In her emailed statement, Gunderson compared their two consultants to Northern California ILWU Organizer Evan McLaughlin, since all three people are paid to talk with workers about union-related issues.

“It would be unfair to let the union tell our employees only one side of the story,” Gunderson wrote. “We have engaged these consultants to ensure that our employees are informed, hearing both the pros and cons of unionizing from credible sources with knowledge of union governance and dues.”

“We’ve been talking about unionizing for years,” said Anfinson. “But they let people go during the offseason and we have to start all over; it’s like a revolving door.”

Anfinson feels an urgency to get to the vote soon, and that momentum is building for a unionization. On Sunday, at noon, the workers are hosting an event, which is open to the public, at Pier 33 in San Francisco, to celebrate their union’s formation, and show the worker’s optimism.

“I think the work atmosphere will be better,” said Anfinson. “I feel confident like there’s going to be some change.”

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Activism

Tiny Homes Offer Hope for Holidays and Beyond

We are accepting applications for volunteers and accepting donations that we can use to build Tiny Homes. You might have things in your house or garage you haven’t used or extra construction tools, a bag of stud nails, used doors, windows, roofing materials, lumber, metal, hardwood flooring, sheetrock tape, paints, and anything that we can recycle to build and add to our Tiny Homes. 

Published

on

As chief operations officer for The Tiny Homes Project, I join Lackey in expressing gratitude for the support that the Oakland Post, as our media partner, has helped us with in gathering community and faith-based leaders to help solve our increasing homeless problem in the Bay Area. We can no longer ignore homelessness in Oakland, which has now reached a humanitarian crisis.
As chief operations officer for The Tiny Homes Project, I join Lackey in expressing gratitude for the support that the Oakland Post, as our media partner, has helped us with in gathering community and faith-based leaders to help solve our increasing homeless problem in the Bay Area. We can no longer ignore homelessness in Oakland, which has now reached a humanitarian crisis.

By Dr. Maritony A. Yamot and Rev. Ken Lackey

The holidays are the season when we stop and begin to think, “How can I give back this year and what are some different ways to help out?”

Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to help out during the holidays that don’t cost a thing. The Tiny Homes Project — with Rev. Ken Lackey of the Center for the Perfect Marriage Church at 6101 International Blvd. — needs to increase its capacity and we wanted to remind our community that everybody matters to God.

As chief operations officer for The Tiny Homes Project, I join Lackey in expressing gratitude for the support that the Oakland Post, as our media partner, has helped us with in gathering community and faith-based leaders to help solve our increasing homeless problem in the Bay Area. We can no longer ignore homelessness in Oakland, which has now reached a humanitarian crisis.

We want to launch an intensive month-long generosity campaign to help the increasing homeless issues in our neighborhoods by adding to the number of tiny homes that we have already built at various private locations in Oakland.

We invite you to join us as we partner with some of Oakland’s fabulous nonprofit organizations to meet critical needs in our communities.

Whether through donation or action, there are plenty of opportunities to give.

We are accepting applications for volunteers and accepting donations that we can use to build Tiny Homes. You might have things in your house or garage you haven’t used or extra construction tools, a bag of stud nails, used doors, windows, roofing materials, lumber, metal, hardwood flooring, sheetrock tape, paints, and anything that we can recycle to build and add to our Tiny Homes.

We are also looking for vehicle donations of trailers or any truck for hauling material and picking up volunteers and homeless people that are helping to build Tiny Homes. We build our homes with primarily donated and surplus materials, allowing us to cut costs and provide a pleasant home for under $40,000.

Each and every person who wants to help out and eradicate the homeless problem in the City of Oakland can donate funds for us to build a Tiny Home. If donors want to give money to the ministry, we will build a tiny home and name it after them. Know that your donations will be able to take a whole family off the street during this cold season.

In addition, we are open to getting a sponsor or sponsors for an entire Tiny Homes Community Park and we have a separate location that will be designated for homeless veterans, the elderly, single mothers or single fathers, and any individual or family who lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence, such as those living in emergency shelters, transitional housing, places not meant for habitation, or sleeping on our streets.

Please spread the word and contact us about any way you can help our Tiny Homes Community Project with Rev. Ken Lackey.

There are three ways to contact us

  1. By Phone/toll-free number: 1-833-233-8900 ext. 1
  2. By Email: TinyHomesC@gmail.com
  3. By Appointment/Donation Drop off location at the All About Grits Restaurant at 6101 International Blvd., Oakland, CA

Or you can attend our next two major events:

  1. Tiny Homes Fundraising Event on Saturday, Dec. 10, 2022. Place to be announced.
  2. Tiny Homes Community Building Workshop with the help of our community and local partners in the Bay Area. Date and place to be announced.

Contact us for more details of these two events or any ways you can help in this season.

Continue Reading

Activism

Faith Baptist Church Becomes Oakland’s First Official Resiliency Hub

Faith Baptist Church was the recipient of the U.S. Green Building Council’s Green Legacy Award. Faith was chosen out of a pool of dozens of applicants for the award. The key differentiator was the Solar Battery Storage project. With that, Faith Baptist has the ability to totally exit the PG&E grid and generate 100% energy from its solar panels. That makes Faith Baptist a potential energy distributor.

Published

on

As members of the community that comprise Faith Baptist Church look on, California Interfaith Power and Light Executive Director Susan Stephenson, left (in white jacket), hands scissors to the eldest member of Faith Baptist for the ribbon cutting on Nov. 14 while Pastor Curtis Robinson stands just behind him. Also pictured are District 1 Councilmember Dan Kalb (white hair, white shirt) and to his right (multi-colored top) is Shayna Hirschfield-Gold, Oakland’s Climate Program manager. Photo courtesy of Faith Baptist Church and California Interfaith Power and Light.
As members of the community that comprise Faith Baptist Church look on, California Interfaith Power and Light Executive Director Susan Stephenson, left (in white jacket), hands scissors to the eldest member of Faith Baptist for the ribbon cutting on Nov. 14 while Pastor Curtis Robinson stands just behind him. Also pictured are District 1 Councilmember Dan Kalb (white hair, white shirt) and to his right (multi-colored top) is Shayna Hirschfield-Gold, Oakland’s Climate Program manager. Photo courtesy of Faith Baptist Church and California Interfaith Power and Light.

By Curtis O. Robinson, Sr., M.A., Harvard University fellow, ’19, Senior Pastor, Faith Baptist Church

So, when I say that Faith Baptist is Oakland’s first Resiliency Hub, the first question that many people ask is, “what is a resiliency hub?”

In an article from the Christian Science Monitor entitled “Resilience hubs: A new approach to crisis response,” the author writes, “Things that shock a community have to do with climate, but more urgently they have to do with systemic inequities.”

He was referring to police shootings, civic unrest, the growth of homeless encampments and more. The resiliency hub approach to these inequities uses a respected local organization, such as a church or community center, and bolsters it to help neighborhoods prepare for crises — hurricanes, heat waves, pandemics or unrest — and to respond and recover from them.

When Faith was approached with the idea of solar panels for its rooftop as a source of heat, the decision was relatively a no-brainer.

As a House of Worship, there is a collective emphasis on the workings of God in the universe. The first job that God gave humanity was to tend the Garden. When it comes to environmental justice, our goal then is to take care of this place called planet Earth.

The world is now in an environmental tailspin. However, with technology that teaches us how to create sustainable outcomes, sprinkled with common sense, we can achieve an environmental balance that can create safe spaces environmentally for our children and for our future.

Faith Baptist Church was the recipient of the U.S. Green Building Council’s Green Legacy Award. Faith was chosen out of a pool of dozens of applicants for the award. The key differentiator was the Solar Battery Storage project.

With that, Faith Baptist has the ability to totally exit the PG&E grid and generate 100% energy from its solar panels. That makes Faith Baptist a potential energy distributor.

With the help of California Interfaith Power and Light and energy experts from the U.S. Green Building Council, we held a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Nov. 14.

Joining us, among others, were Susan Stephenson, executive director of California Interfaith Power and Light, Oakland City Councilman Dan Kalb of District 1, Shayna Hirschfield- Gold, Oakland’s Climate Program manager and members of Faith Baptist and the Pentecostal community that shares our space and Green Building volunteers.

We bask in the glory of energy independence, because we now tap into clean energy from above and not dirty energy from below.

Publisher’s note: Rev Curtis Robinson also is a columnist for the God on Wall Street column for the Post News Group.

Continue Reading

Activism

March Against Fear: When ‘Black Power’ Became Mainstream

What began as a solitary peaceful protest for voter registration became one of the South’s most important demonstrations of the civil rights movement. Leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr. and Carmichael formed unlikely alliances that resulted in the Black Power movement. This ushered in a new era in the fight for equality.

Published

on

James Meredith walking on the campus of the University of Mississippi, accompanied by U.S. marshals. (Photo: Marion S. Trikosko, the United States Library of Congress.)
James Meredith walking on the campus of the University of Mississippi, accompanied by U.S. marshals. (Photo: Marion S. Trikosko, the United States Library of Congress.)

By Tamara Shiloh

It was June 5, 1966.

James Howard Meredith (born 1933), on a mission to encourage Black voter registration and defy entrenched racism in the South, set out on a solitary walk from Memphis, Tennessee to Jackson, Mississippi.

On the second day of his journey, Aubrey Norvell, a white gunman, waited on a roadside a few miles south of Hernando, Mississippi. He ambushed Meredith, shooting him in the neck, head, and back.

Within 24 hours, the nation’s three principal civil rights organizations vowed to continue the march: the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the Congress of Racial Equality, and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.

Success of the event could not be predicted. Leaders were aware that last-minute planning of a march could be dangerous, and the route chosen was not without uncertainty. The three-week march led to death threats, arrests, and the use of tear gas. Internal tensions surrounding leadership swelled and use of the slogan “Black Power” became a revolutionary phrase urging self-determination and Black pride.

The Deacons for Defense and Justice, a group of Black veterans from World War II who believed in armed self-defense, provided protection for participants. Founded in Jonesboro, La., in 1964, The Deacons for Defense had already protected civil rights activists from the Ku Klux Klan. About 20 chapters were created throughout Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.

The march ended on June 22, 1966. Meredith, sufficiently recovered, had been able to rejoin the event. Participants supporting Meredith along the way joined in, making the total number of marchers arriving in Jackson about 15,000. The March Against Fear was one of the largest marches in history for that geographical area. It was during the post-march rally that Stokely Carmichael first used the phrase “we want Black Power” during a public speech.

Carmichael sought to define the quest for Black Power in constructive terms, explaining to supporters in Detroit that “Black votes created Black Power…That doesn’t mean that we are anti-white. We are just developing Black pride.”

Meredith had become well known when he successfully challenged the Kennedy administration to protect his civil rights. His application for admission to the University of Mississippi, dubbed Ole Miss, had been twice denied. With backing from the NAACP, he filed suit for racial discrimination.

After heavy negotiations with U.S. Attorney General Robert Kennedy, Meredith was permitted to enroll at Ole Miss but only under escort of federal troops. He graduated in 1963 with a bachelor’s degree in political science.

What began as a solitary peaceful protest for voter registration became one of the South’s most important demonstrations of the civil rights movement. Leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr. and Carmichael formed unlikely alliances that resulted in the Black Power movement. This ushered in a new era in the fight for equality.

Understand the complex issues of fear, injustice, and the challenges of change in Anne Bausum’s “The March Against Fear: The Last Great Walk of the Civil Rights Movement and the Emergence of Black Power.”

Continue Reading

Subscribe to receive news and updates from the Oakland Post

* indicates required

CHECK OUT THE LATEST ISSUE OF THE OAKLAND POST

ADVERTISEMENT

WORK FROM HOME

Home-based business with potential monthly income of $10K+ per month. A proven training system and website provided to maximize business effectiveness. Perfect job to earn side and primary income. Contact Lynne for more details: Lynne4npusa@gmail.com 800-334-0540

Facebook

Trending