At Vineyard meeting, SSA recognizes trooper
The biggest bit of news barely surfaced at the June monthly meeting of the Steamship Authority Tuesday in Oak Bluffs. After more than four years of often tense negotiations and acrimonious exchanges, SSA management reached a tentative contract with one of its largest unions.
Following the conclusion of the public portion of the meeting, general manager Wayne Lamson told The Times that management and representatives of the Marine Engineering Beneficial Association (MEBA) had agreed on the terms of a contract, subject to ratification by the union membership in a vote on July 10 and July 11.
The only hint that an agreement had been reached came during a discussion of next year's budget in a reference to pending contract issues.
Asked what had led to the agreement, Mr. Lamson said, "I think its fair to say that there was a lot of give and take."
SSA general manager Wayne Lamson presents State Police Lt. Robert Moore with a plaque in recognition of the off-duty officer's efforts to stop an altercation at the Woods Hole terminal on June 10. Photo by Lynn Christoffers
In a telephone conversation from his Boston office yesterday, William Campbell, a MEBA representative, attributed the tentative agreement to the attendance of Mr. Lamson in the negotiating sessions. "The general manager finally sat down with us, and because of that we came up with a tentative agreement between both sides that would come into effect if ratified by the membership," he said. "After five years without a raise and over 70 meetings, to say I am pleased would be a stretch, but we believe it is in the interests of all parties to ratify this agreement."
In general, the authority meeting held in the Oak Bluffs Library meeting room was routine. No elected Island officials attended. The meeting began with the presentation of a plaque by Mr. Lamson to State Police Lt. Robert Moore in recognition of his actions on Sunday June 10, while off duty and returning to the Vineyard with his wife and daughter. Lieutenant Moore, commander of the Island State Police barracks, intervened when three young men created a disturbance at the terminal and had to physically restrain one of the men ("Off-duty Trooper steps in to cool Woods Hole row," MV Times, June 14).
In his remarks, Mr. Lamson said the incident could have easily escalated into something much more serious without Lieutenant Moore's "swift and effective" response.
SSA treasurer Bob Davis presented traffic and revenue numbers for April and year to date. When compared with figures for 2006, passengers, automobiles, and truck traffic were off for the month and the year to date.
Year to date on the Vineyard, vehicles were off 1.7 percent; car traffic was down 2.3 percent; and truck traffic was off by 10.6 percent, with most of that decline attributable to trucks less than 20 feet in length.
Despite the drop in traffic, the SSA winter operating loss was lower than budget projections. "We are still in pretty good shape and looking forward to the summer season," said Mr. Lamson.
Reporting on the status of the Oak Bluffs terminal reconstruction project, Carl Walker, director of engineering, said there had been a great deal of interest in the project, and 18 companies requested bid packages. The SSA is expected to open the bids on July 10.
Management also presented a draft 2008 winter and spring operating schedule. The proposed schedule would extend the winter schedule by five days to April 2, 2008; and the spring schedule to May 20, 2008.
The last boat to the Vineyard would continue to be scheduled at 8:30 pm, Monday through Thursday and at 9:45 pm on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and holidays.
The members agreed to a modification in the boatline's agreement with the town of Tisbury under which the SSA pays a portion of the costs to operate the Park and Ride shuttle service. The agreement had stipulated that vehicles could park for up to seven days free of charge but now Tisbury wants to charge commercial vehicles over 20 feet a daily rate for parking in the lot.
The members questioned the wisdom of the move but agreed to a change with the stipulation that management would revisit the amount the boatline now contributes for use of the lot if the amount collected becomes significant.
In other business, the members were supportive of an effort backed by the Martha's Vineyard Surfcasters Association to incorporate a fishing pier into the design of the Oak Bluffs terminal reconstruction project. One significant hurdle may well be the cost, but the issue remains afloat for now.
During public comment, Harriet Barrow of Vineyard Haven, a member of the Tisbury Waterways organization expressed her frustration over the poor appearance of the Tisbury terminal and asked the members to take steps to improve its overall look. "It needs some attention very desperately," she said.
Mr. Lamson outlined his efforts to work with various town officials and groups but often not everyone appeared to be on the same page. The members asked the port council to look into recommendations that would benefit all the SSA terminals and suggested that Ms. Barrow work with the selectmen and the Tisbury port council representative, Tom Pachico, who is also a selectman.