Longshoremen plan informational picket in Juneau

Juneau longshoremen will hold an informational picket Monday to protest the practice of using foreign workers to tie up cruise ship shuttle boats.

The picket will start about 1:30 p.m. in Marine Park, timed to coincide with the arrival of Holland America’s Zuiderdam.

When cruise ships anchor in Gastineau Channel, they use shuttle boats to transport passengers to shore and to pick up cargo and supplies. Longshoreman and Juneau Docks and Harbors board member John Bush says the practice of having foreign workers tie up those boats has been going on for years.

“As we read it, the longshore work is tying up and cargo, and the foreigners can’t do it. They don’t have Green Cards and they don’t have transportation TWIC cards, security cards,” Bush says. “One quote of one of my buddies is, ‘These are shovel ready jobs and we don’t need shovels.’ We’re Americans and we want to do this work, and we’re longshoremen.”

Bush says the longshoremen are working with Alaska’s congressional delegation and US Customs and Border Protection to end the practice. He says Monday’s informational protest will be the first of its kind.

Drew Green with Cruise Line Agencies of Alaska directed calls to the longshoremen’s employer, Southeast Stevedoring. Officials with the company did not return calls seeking comment.