According to the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) website, the changes in the WSF will help offer more predictable and reliable service systemwide. "WSF will attempt to add service when possible and will provide notifications when full service can temporarily be restored to a route," the alert bulletin stated.
WSF is working to fix a problem created by the state's Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine mandate that went into effect a little more than a year ago. More than 400 WSDOT employees were laid off for not complying with Governor Jay Inslee's COVID-19 vaccine mandate. WSF lost 132 employees – 121 as separations and 11 as retirements. (Related: No end in sight to Jay Inslee's reign of terror against the unvaccinated in WA.)
"Like most state employees, WSF workers also need to be vaccinated or receive a religious or medical exemption," WSF's spokesperson Ian Sterling said. "The vaccine requirement is one factor in the worker shortage, but I think you and I have talked before about the ongoing worldwide shortage of mariners. Every major ferry service I know of is experiencing staff shortages right now."
Meanwhile, the agency has been working on reaching its target staffing as per their Tuesday Service Restoration Plan Progress Report. It said that WSF is "incrementally adding service to meet increasing demand as the ferry system continues to recover from the pandemic."
The report noted their full capacity would be dependent on recruiting, hiring and training new employees to fill key positions and considering retirements and other separations.
"Currently, a shortage of deck officers is what is causing us the most trouble," Sterling explained via email, adding that it takes a long time to get the required certification to become an officer. "There's a big lag time between hiring someone into the system and when they can serve as a deck officer."
Inslee's COVID-19 state of emergency declaration from February 2020 ended on October 31, but state employees are still required to be vaccinated against COVID-19, including any additional doses or boosters as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and as a condition of employment pursuant to the governor's directive. According to Directive 22-13.1, the mandate is confined to actual employees of state agencies and does not extend to state contractors or volunteers.
In October, sick calls from the crew brought much of the WSF system to a halt. Apparently, ferry workers who opposed Inslee's public health mandate are making their voices heard. Because of this, an unprecedented number of about 170 ferry crossings were canceled system-wide, which added up to days of disruption for ferry riders and canceled dozens of weekend sailings.
"I don't think it's fair that people trying to get to places that they need to be would have to wait that long," said Lillian Brennan, who uses the ferry system in Edmonds.
Employees who departed from the service have also been expressing their disappointment. Luke Freimark, who worked as a deckhand at the Mukilteo Terminal, said his three and a half years with WSF ended last month for refusing the COVID-19 vaccine.
"My boss had me bring in my badge and my keys and that's all she wrote. That was my last shift," said Freimark. "I'm in a grief process. I intended on working here for the rest of my life until I retired. And it just makes me sad that it's not going to be a reality."
Chris Anderson, also a former deckhand with WSF since 2015, said he is disappointed it has come to this.
"We've been in this pandemic for over 18 months and we've all risen up to the cause to keep providing this essential service, whether we've been working overtime or we've been coming in on our days off. And the constant changes in procedures and safety measures we've all adapted. But this is going to really hurt the system and it's going to hurt the crew members that have chosen to get vaccinated," Anderson said.
Visit MedicalTyranny.com for more news related to vaccine mandates imposed on workers nationwide.
Watch the video below that talks about how the vaccine mandate caused chaos at WSF.
This video is from the High Hope channel on Brighteon.com.