Longshore Union organizes workers at Sitka Sound Seafood

SITKA, ALASKA -- Employees at Sitka Sound Seafood voted 36-28 Dec. 12 for representation by International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 200. There are 94 persons in the bargaining unit.

Certification of the bargaining unit was delayed because Sitka Sound Seafood, a division of North Pacific Processors of Seattle, filed objections with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in Seattle concerning the vote.

General manager John Sevier told the local Sitka newspaper that the process for certification of the union could take years and delay the unionization process. In a classic management threat, Sevier indicated that if the union is certified, Sitka Sound Seafood may consider closing the plant.

The company laid off all production workers for the holiday season -- November to January -- which is unprecedented in recent history, union officials said.

Dan Teas, former Sitka Sound employee and principal promoter of the organizing, stated: "Issues on the table will be benefits first, wages later."

Prior to the vote a coalition of nine Sitka and 21 southeast Alaska labor unions publicly supported the election process and the unionization effort. The coalition included teachers, the Sitka Education Association, Carpenters Local 466, Electrical Workers Local 1547, Public Employees Local 71, Alaska State Employees Association Local 52, National Federation of Federal Employees Local 251, Inland Boatmen's Union of the Pacific and the Machinists Union. The coalition actively supported the organizing drive through donations of financial and staff resources. A public showing of support was published in the local paper the day before the election and a war chest of financial resources was established by the coalition for the fledgling local.

The organizing effort was initiated after the takeover of Sitka Sound Seafood by NPPI, which resulted in a significant reductions in employee benefits and wages.


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