Daily Sitka Sentinel 23 April 1990 › Page 1
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Member of the Associated Press T H E D A I L Y S E N T I N E L Monday, kpril 23,1990 Volume 52 No. 79 Sitka Alaska 35c lerry Workers OK New State Contract By LARRY PERSILY Associated Press Writer JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) -- A slrike has been averted against the Alaska Marine Highway System as members of the largest union of ferry workers voted to accept a three-year contract with the slate. The new contract was approved by an almost 2-1 margin. Results of the three-week balloting were announced Saturday by Mike Wilson, Alaska region director of the Inlandboatmen's Union of the Pacific. The 600-member union represents deck hands, pursers, cooks, stewards and other workers aboard the eight- vessel fleet Wilson said 84 percent of the members voted. An immediate strike had been promised by the union if the slate's contract offer was rejecled by the members. "While it did pass, it is not everything we had hoped it would or should be," , Wilson said. "However, our members have spoken and we can now.gel back to the business of providing service to the people of Alaska." ' . He said, "Striking is not something that anybody looks forward to these days." The contract passed 293 to 168. Workers will receive a 3.3 percent pay Taisc retroactive to Jan. i, and automatic cost-of-living raises of up tp 5 percent each of the next two years tied to the federal consumer price index for Anchorage. An optional sick leave cash-in for workers could provide up to a 4 per- cent.pne-time bonus this year, and the contract also adds the late Rev. Martin Lulhcr King's birthday as an additional paid holiday. The original contract offer negotiated three weeks ago by state and unipn officials provided an April 1 effective dale for this year's raise. However, Gov. Steve Cowper on Sat- urday ordered it changed to Jan. 1 to provide ferry workers with the same benefits as most other unions had negotiated. The slate has signed agreements with all but one of its 10 employee unions. Members of the largest union will vote Wednesday through Friday on the state's 3.3 percenl offer, including cost-of-living raises the next two years. Ballots will be counted next weekend for the 8,500-membcr Alaska State Employees Association. State employees have not had an across-the-board pay raise since 1985, almost most workers receive annual merit increases. The Legislature is faced with a $22 million price tag for the higher salaries in fiscal 1991, about a 1 percent increase in the operating budget. An additional $11 million would be needed to cover pay raises for the last half of fiscal 1990. Lawmakers must meet an adjournment deadline of May 8, and must approve the money before workers can receive higher paychecks. Although there were some cancellations because of the ferry workers' strike threat, operations were not interrupted by the uncertainty, said Jim Ayers, marine highway director. The governor had promised that all passengers aboard ferries stopped short of their final port by a strike would be flown to their destinations at state expense, Ayers said. Two of the system's ferries arc out of service, pending a return to work for the summer season. The Alaska Marine Highway serves Southeast and Southwest Alaska, wilh service lo Prince Rupert, British Columbia, and Bellingham, Wash. "Both sides deserve credit for slicking Ihis out lo Ihe end and for averting a strike thai could have crippled Ihe system and hurt the upcoming loiirisl season," Cowper said. '-,: Â· - Down to Earth One-year-old Lincoln Wild was among those who enjoyed Earth Day eagles by the Alaska Raptor Rehabilitation Center, followed by eco- activities in Sitka Sunday. Events held at Sitka National Historical logical games for children. In the background, an adult volunteer Park beoan with a community potluck picnic, then the release of two explains a game to children, while Lincoln picks up a rope to play his own game. (Sentinel photo by Allen Sykora) Moratorium Sought On Factory Trawlers SEATTLE (AP) -- Ten years of uncontrolled growlh by the cily's $1 billion faclory-lrawlcr fleet ihrcaten to deplete North Pacific fisheries, more than 200 authorities say. In a letter lo Congress, scienlisls, trawling-induslry leaders and other fisheries authorities call for a moratorium pulling those waters off limits to new floating fish processors to prevent "unseen biological, social and economic consequences." The SI.1 billion flecl of 60 vessels. 150 lo 300 feet long, harvests about 2 million tons of pollock and other bottom fish from the Bering Sea and the North Pacific each year, processing Ihe catch below decks into frozen fillets or fish paste used lo make artificial crab and oihcr products. Most of Ihe ships have been launched in the past five years lo lake advantage of Ihe boom in ihose wa- lers, Ihe Scaltle Times reported recently. While Ihe federal government seis strict quotas on the amount of fish the fleet can take, it conlinues lo allow new vessels lo cnlcr Ihe fishery. II also subsidizes new factory trawlers Ihrough federal loan guaramccs. Cpnservalive quoias so far have prevented overharvcsting, aulhorilics say, bul there is mpunling pressure on the government to increase Ihe quotas and on fishermen to exceed ihem. Scientists and other aulhorilics have said for years lhat ihc flecl is growing too fast for Ihe limited boltom-fishing slocks. Such booms in olhcr fisheries have led to ovcrfishing and sudden collapses. A moratorium is the only solution, contends Dayton Alvcrson, the Seattle fisheries consultant who drafted the letter to Congress made public late last week. Frcc-rnarkcl economics don't work in dealing wilh a commonly owned resource, Alvcrson says, because when a resource has no owner, there Continued on Page 8 House OKs Rewrite of State's Logging Rules By LARRY PERSILY Associated Press Writer JUNEAU (AP) -- The House has passed limber-harvest legislation lo provide sirong protection for salmon streams and water quality, with supporters looking to the Senate for help in the final two weeks of the session. The major rewrite of state law would govern most logging on private and stale lands in Alaska. Il would require buffer strips along salmon streams, and would allow the Natural Resources Department to issue slop-work orders against logging operators in violation of Ihe law or in danger of harming the environment. "Right now there's a perception that there's inadequate protection," said Bob Dick, state forester. Protection has its costs, however. The legislation would add $1 million a year to the state budget for the dc- paruncms of Nalural Resources, Environmental Protection and Fish and Game. A Fish and Game report said the new laws would succeed only if the agencies have enough staff to work with limber operators. Existing staff levels are "woefully inadequate .to deal effectively wilh the intensive and widespread timber activities," the report said. Sealaska Corp., the Soulheast regional nalive corporation, testified in support of Ihe bill and addilional funding for stale management. The company has exiensive timber operations in Southeast. The bjll passed the House Friday 29-6, after two long days of debate and 15 Republican amendment designed to weaken the legislation. All but one of Ihe amendmenls failed. "This ihing is providing us with all sorts of enhanced standards," said House Minority Leader Robin Taylor, R-Wrangcll and sponsor of 13 of the amendments. "Existing law is overwhelming anyhow." But the one Republican amendment that passed "guts the bill" and must be removed, said Sen. Bettye F a h r e n k a m p , D - F a i r b a n k s . Fahrenkamp is chairwoman of the Senate Resources Committee, and she Continued on Page 8 Court Refuses to Block Alaska Oil Lease Trial Young Anglers Net Prizes In Swan Lake Trout Derby Among participants in the Rotary Club annual Swan Lake I rout Derby were, top photo left lo right, Ashley Ralcy, Melody Hazel, Russell Ruuti, Kim Ralcy and James Hazel, crowded into one boat; and, lower photo, Kendra and David Skiiltka. Kendra's I pounds, 2 ounce, trout won the prize for the 7-13 age bracket. (Sentinel photos by James Poulson) A 1-pound 3 'A-ouncc fish landed shortly after fishing started earned 11-year-old Jarcd Brandncr the lop prize in the Silka Rotary Club's 1990 Swan Lake Troul Derby. Jarcd's trout, otic of four weighing a pound or more caught during the derby on Saturday, was the largest trout entered and good for a S100 U.S. Savings bond donated by National Bank of Alaska. Kendra Skulka and Bruce Warden were the winners in each of two age categories. Kendra's 1-pound 2-otincc iroul lopped entries in the 7-13 bracket, while Bruce won the age group for youngsters through age 6 with a 1-pound Bounce fish. Krisloplicr llclgcson was second to Kcmlra with a I-pound 1 'A-pnnce fish, and Todd Wyinan was third in the 713 age group with a 1-pound irnul. Second place in lite tlirongh-6 age group went lo Jason Andersen with a 15-nuncc trout, while Holly McArihur's 12'/j-ounce fish was good for third. The top three fish in each of the two age groups earned the lucky anglers savings bonds of $75, $50 and $25, also donated by National Bank of Alaska. Contestants were eligible for only one prize. Generally cloudy skies with occasional showers held Ihe turnout to 89 young anglers, compared wilh 123 a year ago, bul they registered 62 trout, only seven short of lasl year's mark. "In addition to annual backing from the Nalional Bank of Alaska, the Rotary Club also received valuable assistance from others," said derby chairman Sieve Ford. "They include Sea Marl's Lawrence Poitra, Mike Elcrding of Sitka Northern Sales, Tom Rogers of First Bank, Lcs Richardson of the Sitka Tool Shed, Municipal Administrator Siu Dcnslow and ihe city-borough police and clcclric departments." WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Supreme Court today refused to block an Alaska stale court trial of a lawsuit lhat accuses oil companies of underpaying the slale for oil leases. The jusliccs, without comment, rejected arguments lhat the oil companies cannot get a fair irial in Alaska because all residents -- including judges and prospective jurors -would share in any additional money the compaines could be ordered to pay- Alaska officials sued in 1983 seeking damages from 19 oil producers who received stale leases to lap the stale's North Slope. The state said the companies underestimated the value of oil and gas taken from Prudltoe Bay and Kuparuk River fields. Three companies that are trying to kill the suit said $2.6 billion could be at stake, and thai could translate into $70 a year indefinitely for each slate resident qualified lo share in the proceeds. The three companies arc Standard Alaska Production Co., Exxon Corp. and Chevron, USA. A share of all oil royalties go into the Alaska Permanent Fund, a special savings account created so Alaska residents can share in the state's petroleum and mineral wcallh. The oil companies said the existence of the fund means it is impossible to get an impartial Judge and jury in Alaska to consider ihe stale's suil for addilional payments. "Every judge and juror in Alaska has an inherent bias," lawyers for the oil companies said, since a successful suil by Ihe slate could put morc money in their pockets. The 9lh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled lasl year the companies' bid to use the federal courts to block the state court proceedings is premature, The appeals court said, even assuming that each slate resident stands to gain $70 a year from the suit, "We do not have sufficient facts before us to determine" whether such a sum is "a substantial financial interest compelling disqualification" of judges and jurors. Il is also possible that some judges and prospective jurors would be willing to forgo any extra benefits from the suil, ihe appeals court said. lite case is BP Exploration vs. Daily, 89-1375.