Photo courtesy of Camilla Rose.
The long boat strike came to an end last night after the ratification of an agreement with the unlicensed men closely following the pattern of that previously reached with the licensed men. The agreement is, in essence, the modified 0-4-4 proposal which had received widespread publicity.
 
The vote of the union for ratification after a prolonged session lasting until 6 last night, was 90 to 6. The Authority voted unanimously, 4 to 0, for ratification.
 
The engines of the Islander were turned over at 10:30 last night, and operation will begin today, with regularly  scheduled operation to start tomorrow. The steamer Nantucket is expected to begin operation tomorrow on a schedule printed elsewhere on this page.
 
The strike lasted seventy-six days, not counting the April 1 to April 15 so-called wildcat strike of the officers of the Nantucket.
 
The capitulation of the unlicensed men is attributed to the injunction proceeding brought by the Authority, and this will remain in court until the final contracts are signed. It will then become moot, from the standpoint of the court, but may be re-instituted at any future time.
 

Love Highly Enthusiastic

 
Robert M. Love, Vineyard member of the Steamship Authority, said last night that he was highly enthusiastic about the possibilities of the agreement. The way is open, he said, to bring operating costs way, way down. This is brought about by the sweeping elimination of interference with management, of feather bedding, and of the abuses which had been written into the old contract by threats of strikes over a period of years.
 
High among the gains, from the standpoint of the Islands, are the following:
 
The so-called guarantee clause is eliminated from the contract. This is the requirement embodied in the old contract in these words: “The employer agrees that the ship, agency and maintenance forces shall not be less than the total number maintained during the winter of 1948-48.”
 
The Authority now has complete freedom to operate, using as many men as are necessary and no more.
 
The manning of the boats is now to be, basically, in accordance with the Coast Guard crew requirements. There will be a few exceptions, the most important of which are the retention of quartermasters and a working boatswain. But even here there is a gain.
 
In the new agreement the purser and the ticket-taker will be one and the same man.
 
The rights of management are defined to give freedom in operating and scheduling. Transfers of personnel may now be made without the approval of a union committee as under the old contract.
 

As to Unemployment

 
As to unemployment, the state formula is adopted. There will be no more unemployment payments to any man working for another employer during his lay-off.
 
There is to be a sixty-day cut-off in the unemployment coverage of laid-off employees. Previously, the payments could run indefinitely.
 
There is a moderate increase in the payments for hospitalization for Authority personnel. It was found that the figure carried in the old contract was below the industrial average, and the Authority agreed to bring it into line.
 
The no-strike clause is re-worded to make it more effective. In the old contract the union was bound not to strike during the life of the agreement, but it was expressly stated that any work stoppage resulting from the action of a minority group or any individual could not be considered a violation of the clause.
 
The new employment provision stipulates that any stoppage of work will be the responsibility of the union, even if by a minority or any individual, and the union will be required to exert its discipline to prevent or terminate such a stoppage.
 
In the matter of subsistence, in which an increase had been demanded, no increase will be made. Subsistence payments will remain the same as under the old contract.
 

Down with Feather Bedding

 
Requirements as to keeping partial crews on boats during time when the boats are laid up have been revised. The old contract provision has been characterized as an example of feather bedding. Whether needed or not, the Authority was required to keep and pay certain personnel aboard vessels laid up for any period whatever. Under the new agreement, not even a watchman need be kept - and this with the approval of the Coast Guard to which the question was submitted.
 
The past practices clause of the old agreement is not eliminated, but it is re-defined so that it will not affect operational procedure in any way. The clause had been intended originally to protect personnel in the exercise of old usages, such as a man being able to go for a newspaper at Woods Hole. But the provision had been used by the union as the basis for insisting upon crew requirements in certain cases, and to bring pressure against changes in scheduling desired by the Authority. No interference with management will now be possible under the re-worded clause.
 
The present pension system is to be continued for the present, without increase. But the Authority is willing, if the men so vote, to introduce a new and valid pension system to replace the old, which simply provides $30 a month “in lieu of pension” and thus actually, in effect, is just an increase in pay. The Authority considers a new system desirable and believes it would be helpful to the men and would tend to increase loyalty on their part.
 

Would Pay for First Year

 
Should a new system be adopted, the Authority will pat the first year’s actuarial cost and administrative cost of $200 a year.
 
On the question of arbitration, if arbitration is to take place in the future it will be through the American Arbitration Society and not the state Board of Conciliation and Arbitration. It developed that neither the union nor the Authority had a good word to say for the state board. It was thumbs down all around, and here, at least, both sides saw as one.
 
Travel time is now defined and clarified. In the past, to take an extreme example, ten men could pile into some man’s car, and each of the ten could collect travel allowance. Under the new agreement, only the man who has the car, and uses, is allowed travel payment.
 
In such an instance as that of a man living in New Bedford who bids work on the ferry, the new provision will allow travel payment from New Bedford to Woods Hole at the beginning of the week, and from Woods Hole to New Bedford at the end of the week. There will be no payment for trips back and forth each day.
 
If New Bedford is closed, the Authority will pay for the moving of employees from New Bedford to the new scene of operation, as is customary in industry. It will not pay daily travel money for trips back and forth to New Bedford.
 

No More Multiple Manning

 
Under the new agreement, the multiple manning of the bridge of the steamer Nantucket is eliminated. The manning is a matter between the Authority and the Coast Guard, and no arbitration is to take place. Only the men required will be employed for the Nantucket.
 
There will be no payment to employees for the period of the strike, and no payment for the period of the wildcat strike which took place from April 1 to April 15. In the matter of vacation accrual, however, the station personnel and ship personnel are now put on the same basis. This results in a slightly increased cost, but uniformity was considered fair and desirable.
 
Under the vacation clause, vacations will be taken in accordance with seniority, and the arrangement will now work so that temporary employees may be kept on their temporary status and not shifted into the permanent classification with resulting benefits at the expense of the Authority.
 
Other changes are technical and difficult of explanation without reference to the bulky contract document. The significant ones have been summarized.
 
The settlement follows closely the principles stressed by Mr. Love at the series of meetings at which he discussed the strike with officials and others. On May 27 Mr. Love said that he felt there would have to be compromises but that he believed the abuses could be negotiated out of the contract.
 
At a later meeting, Mr. Love said that the Authority’s annual labor cost is about $1,100,000, and that the two 4 percent increases under the 0-4-4 proposal would represent about $80,000. He estimated at that time that savings through the proposed agreement would be something like $250,000, making a net gain of, say, $150,000 a year.
 

Negotiate Up to 5:45 a.m.

 
The final negotiations, carried on Wednesday night and until 5:45 yesterday morning, added somewhat to the cost, but it is believed not significantly, and Mr. Love’s estimate would bot be much affected. But last night no arithmetic had been attempted, and it was enough to say that opportunities for very large savings had been opened.
 
At each of the meetings, Mr. Love emphasized the freedom of action for the Authority which its negotiations were attempting to gain, and the new agreement embodies the propose he expressed.
 
The strike began on April 1 with a partial tie-up when the officers of the Nantucket refused to sail that vessel without multiple manning of the bridge, claiming that under the past practices clause this could be demanded. The Authority countered with a suit in the amount of $100,000 for breach of contract. The suit has since been withdrawn by agreement.
 
There were rumors that the crews of all vessels would walk out in sympathy with the Nantucket officers, but they waited until April 15 and, on the expiration of the old contract, went on strike and presented a series of demands which were published in the Gazette. Radio commentators have said many times that the demands were not made public, but they were again published, in detail, in a full page advertisement by the Authority.
 
The strike was but a week or so old, and the reaction of the public on the Islands seemed uncertain still, when in another full page advertisement the Authority published the existing wage scale and summary of payments and benefits. That did it. The lot of the Authority personnel was so conspicuously better than that of workers of all kinds, skilled, professional, and all other, on the Vineyard and Nantucket, that the resolution of the Islands solidified and never relaxed
 

First Great Test

 
The first great test came with the approach of the Memorial Day weekend, traditionally a big occasion of the arriving season. But the Islands dug in, gritted their teeth and saw it through. Meantime, arrangements for emergency transportation multiplied and were improved. A debt of Island gratitude to such captains of Alfred Vanderhoop and Walter Manning of the Papoose and the Bozo was incurred. Trucking firms took losses and cooperated. Freight came through. It came through in quantity and in good time.
 
Attempts of union pickets to interfere with shipments from other places in Woods Hole were quickly checked.
 
The Martha’s Vineyard Transportation Committee was formed, and ultimately the steel barge Spirit of Martha’s Vineyard, with Capt. Charles W. Vanderhoop Jr. on deck, went into service to carry cars. Some attempts to provide transportation proved unsuccessful, but others followed in short order.
 
The loyal summer public of the Vineyard supported the Island, and the streets became well filled with vacationers who would have come, so it was said, if they had had to swim.
 
But there were losses and heavy losses to the Island because of the strike, though most business men and workmen did not complain. It will probably never be known what the cost of the strike came to for the Vineyard and Nantucket. But it was great for the strikers.
 
So far as is known, the licensed men received no strike benefits and now they will collect no retro-active pay. They were on the beach for the period of the strike.
 
Payments to the unlicensed men, as one observer put it, could not have amounted to more than cigarette money.
 
And now the great strike is over and the business of the summer begins.