SKAGWAY, Alaska (July 31, 2023) — Members of the SMART Transportation Division (SMART-TD) have voted in favor of ratifying a tentative agreement the union recently reached with the White Pass & Yukon Route (WP&YR).
The more than two-dozen unionized workers for WP&YR, the largest employer in Skagway and a tourist railroad serving thousands of visitors who come to the southeast Alaska town of 1,200, had been working since late 2017 without a new contract.
“This has been a hard-fought and long — nearly six-year — journey for our membership and our negotiating team,” said lead negotiator Jason Guiler, SMART-TD general chairperson. “Our members have spoken and are in favor of this agreement. After working through a pandemic and then dealing with the surge in both inflation and ridership as tourists have come back, they feel that the carrier has extended an acceptable offer.
“This is a prime example of how collective bargaining works. We look forward to serving riders aboard the WP&YR now that negotiations have been resolved!”
The new contract, effective Jan. 1, 2018, with a wage package that began upon ratification on July 26, 2023, includes a wage increase through the length of the nine-year agreement. It also prevented the carrier from eliminating the brakeman position.
“General Chairperson Guiler and the membership of our Local 1626 in Alaska who work for WP&YR should be very proud of what they’ve accomplished with this success,” said Vice President Brent Leonard, who assisted in the negotiating process throughout. “It proves what can be done when workers stand together for themselves. I congratulate them on an outstanding job!”