Racist Union Busting Terry MacRae Given Ferry Franchise By NYC Demo Mayor DeBlasio

Racist Union Busting Terry MacRae Given Ferry Franchise By NYC Demo Mayor DeBlasio
New York City’s Ferry Fleet Is Off to a Fast Start
"Terry MacRae, the chief executive of Hornblower, a San Francisco-based company that operates the ferries, said the service might benefit from express boats that skip stops “like an express train when you’ve already got the milk run.” At peak travel times, boats might run directly from one high-volume stop on a route, say Long Island City, to an endpoint like Pier 11 in Lower Manhattan.”

After launching in May, New York City’s ferry system has proved enormously popular, with ridership far exceeding expectations. CreditChristian Hansen for The New York Times
In a year of transit miseries, it has become an unexpected success story in New York City’s commuting landscape — the city’s nascent ferry fleet, whose ridership has far exceeded expectations, is rapidly becoming an alternative to the beleaguered subway system.

Two of the four new ferry lines are already carrying more passengers than had been projected for 2019. The ferry service has proved so popular that the city has had to order bigger boats and there is already talk of creating express routes to zip workers to and from their jobs more quickly.

Six months after Mayor Bill de Blasio started the most extensive ferry service New York has had in decades, it has carried more than 2.5 million passengers, about 700,000 more than had been expected.

Though the number of people riding boats is tiny compared with the millions who squeeze onto the subway every day, the successful launch of the ferry system suggests that it could become a key part of the city’s transportation network.

“The mayor feels like this is one of the best things we’ve done,” Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen said.The city had been running a more modest subsidized ferry service on the East River before the de Blasio administration decided to lower the fare to match the subway’s and expand the service to waterfront neighborhoods that the subway does not reach. The city’s investment, which could exceed $325 million by 2023, is one of the most ambitious attempts to change the menu of commuting options in New York.

A passenger has plenty of room on a recent Sunday trip from Manhattan to the Rockaways in Queens. But crowded boats are more typical with many riders using the ferries as an alternative to the city’s delay-plagued subway system. CreditChristian Hansen for The New York Times
Whether the city can afford to underwrite so much of the cost remains to be seen, but some riders, especially those who are refugees from the delay-plagued subway, have already become enamored regulars.

“Everybody loves it,” said Kathleen Warnock, who since August has been riding sleek boats instead of packed subway trains between her home in Astoria, Queens, and her job in Lower Manhattan. “They’re voting with their feet. This is the way they want to get to work.”

The ferry service’s robust growth has not come without problems — inspections by the Coast Guard revealed that a mechanical problem had caused pitting in the hulls of some boats. That problem, first reported by The New York Post, has taken six ferries out of service and Mr. de Blasio has ordered an investigation. Officials said the problems posed no safety risk and that the company that operates the ferry, not the city, would bear the repair costs. On Monday, a ferry ran aground as it left a pier in Manhattan though no one was hurt.

Despite the setbacks, the demand for waterborne transportation is also fueling the expansion of commuter ferry service across the Hudson River between New York and New Jersey. New York Waterway, which operates several routes on the river, added service recently between Midtown Manhattan and Hoboken and Jersey City.

Across the country, other cities, including Boston and New Orleans, are exploring ways of increasing passenger-ferry service as a way to improve transportation. Boston Harbor Now, a nonprofit, is studying how to add to the city’s ferry network. The New Orleans Regional Transit Authority plans to expand service on the Mississippi River.

Ms. Glen said New York’s ferry service represented a strategic investment in improving transit options in neighborhoods across the city, especially those where a forest of high-rise towers have drawn new residents. Besides providing another option to an antiquated and unreliable subway, Ms. Glen said the ferry connections could breathe more life into some neighborhoods by spurring development.


Two of the ferry’s four lines are already carrying more passengers than had been projected for 2019, city officials said. CreditChristian Hansen for The New York Times
City officials promoted the ferry service as an enticement to Amazon in their bid to lure its second headquarters to the city, Ms. Glen said. She emphasized that NYC Ferry is not a typical point-to-point service but a system whose map looks more like that of a subway or railroad network, making multiple stops before reaching its final destination.

The service is scheduled to expand next year, adding routes to Soundview in the Bronx and the Upper East Side of Manhattan, as well as the Lower East Side. But the operators are already considering going further, Ms. Glen said.

Terry MacRae, the chief executive of Hornblower, a San Francisco-based company that operates the ferries, said the service might benefit from express boats that skip stops “like an express train when you’ve already got the milk run.” At peak travel times, boats might run directly from one high-volume stop on a route, say Long Island City, to an endpoint like Pier 11 in Lower Manhattan.

A key reason the ferry service has become so appealing is its low fare: $2.75 each way. While most ferry services are priced like luxury transportation alternatives, Mr. de Blasio insisted on pegging the cost to the fare for a single ride on the subway and city buses.

As a result, however, the ferries are heavily subsidized. City officials estimate that the subsidy amounts to about $6.60 per rider, which would translate to about $16.5 million so far. (New York City already operates the far older Staten Island Ferry, which is free and connects Manhattan and Staten Island.)

Starting the new service has proved more expensive than forecast, but city officials have not flinched at the rising cost. The city’s Economic Development Corporation spent $30 million on the ferry service in the fiscal year that ended June 30.

“My thing is to make people happy,” said Milton Scott, who works as a deckhand for the ferries.CreditChristian Hansen for The New York Times
This summer, it had to charter additional boats, at a cost of $500,000, to handle large crowds on weekends. The surging popularity also spurred the city to order bigger boats, with a capacity of 349 passengers, instead of boats that could fit 149 riders, which the city originally had built. This month the Development Corporation’s board approved the construction of three more of the bigger boats, for a total of six. It has 16 smaller boats.

The city has an option to buy the boats from Hornblower and Hornblower has an option to demand that the city buy the boats. So no future mayor could easily or inexpensively eliminate the service.

A future mayor could decide to raise fares to reduce the city’s subsidy, but Ms. Glen said the current administration is committed to keeping the cost of the ferry in line with the base subway and bus fare.

Any ferry service expansion will be less challenging than this spring’s launch. Hornblower was having boats driven to New York as fast as two shipyards on the Gulf Coast could turn them out.

“We’ve scaled a steep mountain and we’re still climbing,” Mr. MacRae said.

Indeed, NYC Ferry has still not moved into its permanent home at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The city is outfitting a pier there that will serve as the base of operations for the fleet and its crews. Cameron Clark, who runs the service for Hornblower, and his staff have had to operate out of a WeWork building on Wall Street, where they share work spaces with other tenants.

While reviews from riders have been generally positive, there have been complaints about boats running late and being so full that they leave people behind. City officials said they hope to placate riders by next summer with a bigger fleet.

Caitlin Casella, left, and Alex Casella admire the views while riding the ferry on a recent Sunday. City officials promoted the ferry service to Amazon in their bid to lure it to the city.CreditChristian Hansen for The New York Times
Another way that ferry operators eased some of the unhappiness was by hiring people like Milton Scott. Mr. Scott, who lives in Brooklyn, was working for NYC Ferry’s landlord in Lower Manhattan when Mr. Clark decided that Mr. Scott’s flair for hospitality would be a good fit.

Mr. Scott now works as a deckhand, spending days riding back and forth on the long run between Manhattan and the Rockaways. “My thing is to make people happy,” Mr. Scott said. “When they get onto the vessel, they’re looking to relax and decompress, which you’re not able to do on the M.T.A., because of the crowds and the service disruptions.”

Ms. Warnock, 57, was quick to abandon her daily ride on the N/W subway line for the comforts of the ferry, which lands several blocks from her home in Astoria.

“Oh my gosh, this is a perfect commute,” she said, waxing on about the sights along the water. “It’s really improved my quality of life.”

For Alexandra Stathis, who lives near the river in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, the ferry provides a respite from the “crowded and stressful” subway, in one direction at least.

Ms. Stathis, 28, said she and her boyfriend ride the ferry to East 34th Street in Manhattan every morning. From there, she usually hops on a free NYC Ferry shuttle bus to get to her office. But in the evenings, she said, she usually rides the subway home.

In comparison to the subway, she said, the ferry has been “extremely pleasant” and punctual.

That sort of reaction reflects what Ms. Glen, the deputy mayor, calls the “happiness factor” the ferries have produced. “We have qualitatively changed people’s transit experiences,” she said.

But she admitted that there was one review of the ferry service that was especially satisfying. She recounted receiving a note from her father in which he said: “I’m on a boat back from Rockaway with a Brooklyn lager in my hand. My life is complete. I’m so glad I had you.”

Stop Union Busting on the Waterfront!

by Ben Fletcher Wednesday, Dec. 06, 2006 at 10:56 PM

In a show of solidarity ILWU Local 10 voted for a port-wide shutdown in support of the IBU & MMP workers. This is call for all union members and their allies to join us on the picket line Pier 31/33, The Embarcadero, San Francisco, December 9, 2006 at 10 AM.

For more information, please visit alcatrazunion.com.

Stop Union Busting on the Waterfront

For the past two months Bay Area maritime union members have been picketing daily in a struggle to maintain union wages and working conditions.

Terry MacRae's Alcatraz Cruises (a subsidiary of Hornblower) refuses to hire IBU and MM&P members who have worked on the Alcatraz ferry since 1973.

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union was born out of the 1934 San Francisco Maritime and General Strike.

Since then, the ILWU has maintained good wages and working conditions on the entire Bay Area waterfront. The current assault by Hornblower is a direct attack at the heart of ILWU jurisdiction and demands a powerful response!

ILWU Local 10 voted to hold a port-wide stop-work meeting and port shutdown in solidarity with the IBU & MMP workers.

This is call for all union members and their allies to join us for the march at 9:15 AM and on the picket line at 10 AM on December 9.

An Injury to One is an Injury to All!

If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area:

9:15 AM, September 9, 2006 - March
10:00 AM, September 9. 2006 - Mass Picket
If you live outsisde of the San Francisco Bay Area - visit this page.

Editorial, by Jack Heyman, ILWU Local 10 - The challenge to labor

San Francisco has been a solidly union town since the historic 1934 maritime strike of sailors and longshoremen which turned into a citywide General Strike after two strikers were killed by police. The strikers' slogan then was, "An injury to one is an injury to all." Now, every July 5, "Bloody Thursday," West Coast ports close from the Canadian to the Mexican border to commemorate the six union members killed during the militant strike that forged the organized labor movement.

But is San Francisco still a union town?

For the first time since that 1934 strike, a nonunion maritime company has begun operating on the Embarcadero. Hornblower Cruises and Events, owned by Terry McRae, was awarded a 10-year contract by the National Park Service (NPS) last year to provide ferry service to Alcatraz Island. Some 50 workers, represented by the Inlandboatmen's Union (IBU) and the Masters, Mates and Pilots Union (MMP), with decent working conditions, wages and family health insurance, lost their jobs. They've been picketing, along with their supporters, at Pier 33 on the Embarcadero for the past two months, as McRae refuses to negotiate.

In response, the San Francisco longshore union voted to shut down all Bay Area ports and hold a stop-work meeting and mass picket in solidarity with its sister IBU local, which is affiliated to the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU). In 2003, the Los Angeles longshore union took similar action, shutting down the largest port in the United States and marching in solidarity with striking grocery-store workers. In 2000, when the jobs of Charleston, S.C., longshore workers had been taken over by a nonunion stevedore operator, they, much as the Alcatraz ferry workers, protested by picketing. They were attacked by riot police with many injured and five arrested. The ILWU went to their defense. Known as the Charleston 5 campaign, it became a cause celebre of the American labor movement and is one of the few shining examples of labor's power in recent years.

Much has changed since the days when a freighter's cargo was "hand-jived" by gangs of longshoremen or when ferries would carry passengers from Oakland to San Francisco. Containerization and bridges have changed the face of the waterfront.

One of the most significant measures of change, perhaps, is the integration of women into the workforce. Nowadays, the "first lady" in the Port of Oakland is a black mother who operates a container crane. And the regional director of the IBU is Marina Secchitano, who in the fight to defend her union and her members' jobs, refuses to back down in the face of corporate intimidation. Twice arrested by police, Secchitano is determined to achieve justice for her union members, who have been diligently working the Alcatraz Ferry since it began operations in 1973 and now find themselves replaced, like the Charleston longshoremen.

While Hornblower maintains a callous disregard for the lives of the workers who made the Alcatraz run into the success that it has become, the company portrays itself as environmentally conscious. U.S. District Court Judge Claudia Wilkins has ruled that the Service Contract Act, which requires a successor of a federal contract to pay the same level of wages and benefits as the previous employer, applies to Hornblower. But who today believes that justice can be achieved through government agencies and courts? Certainly not when judges rule that corporations can rip up with impunity labor contracts that provide for workers' pensions, health benefits and wages, as happened to workers at Bethlehem Steel and United Airlines. Some judges have barred workers from striking in response.

In this atmosphere of one-sided class war, if unions are to survive as independent organizations that represent the democratic will of workers, then they will have to exercise their power -- even if that means defying unjust laws. That's what the civil rights movement did in the '60s and the labor movement did before that in the '30s.

If nonunion companies, such as Hornblower can operate with federal blessing, then others will follow and the days of unions on the San Francisco waterfront are numbered.

Is an injury to one still an injury to all? If so, will unions take the necessary action? That is the challenge of organized labor today.