Washington State Ferries Employee News

Read the January 2023 edition of Ferry Tales, the Washington State Ferries employee newsletter.

Have an idea for this employee newsletter? Email WSFEmployeeComms@wsdot.wa.gov.

New Passenger Code of Conduct

In response to concerns raised by terminal staff and vessel crews, the Washington State Ferries Diversity Advisory Group has developed a Passenger Code of Conduct to help ensure the safety and security of our passengers and our most valuable assets – our employees.

The Code of Conduct advises riders that we have a zero-tolerance harassment policy. The use of abusive or offensive language to our crewmembers or fellow passengers is strictly prohibited. Violating this policy may lead to a time specific no-trespass order by law enforcement.

Comprised of three parts which are already in effect – terminal and vessel announcements, posters and a “yellow card” given to those violating the Passenger Code of Conduct – it has been reviewed by the Attorney General’s Office and Washington State Patrol and approved by our executive team.

The Passenger Code of Conduct is just one of the many examples of the good work done by your coworkers in DAG in an effort to build our agency’s diversity, equity and inclusion in a respectful and welcoming work environment.

People walking on to a ferry at Bainbridge terminal
Our new Passenger Code of Conduct advises riders that we have a zero-tolerance harassment policy with the use of abusive or offensive language to our crewmembers or fellow passengers strictly prohibited.
Headshot of a person
Todd Lamphere
Finance and Administration Director

What’s New at HQ?

The state Legislature began its 2023 session on Jan. 9. Among many important topics, our operating and capital budgets will be discussed.

Gov. Jay Inslee’s proposed budget (PDF 52KB) includes strong support for ferry system electrification, vessel preservation and maintenance, as well as workforce development initiatives:

  • $46 million in the 2023-25 biennium – and a total of $1.12 billion over the next 10 years to construct five hybrid-electric ferries
  • $74 million to convert three Jumbo-Mark II vessels to hybrid-electric propulsion and build the necessary shoreside power to support ferry electrification (two of the three conversions will be completed in 2023-25)
  • $371.4 million to help preserve vessels and terminals
  • $21.5 million for more resources and better tools to recruit and retain qualified personnel, and to focus investments on hard-to-recruit and hard-to-retain positions, including support for an able-bodied sailor to mate pathway program to streamline and improve the process for unlicensed deckhands to receive their mate’s license

Proposed state ferry workers compensation in the 2023-25 budget is consistent with the union negotiated amounts.

Legislative budget proposals will be presented in March or April. Once passed, budgets will be sent to Gov. Inslee for his signature in April or May. 

We look forward to working with the governor’s office and the legislators this session on these and other topics.

Headshot of a person
Wendy Bradford

Employee Spotlight

Wendy Bradford works as a boilermaker journeyperson welder out of our Eagle Harbor Maintenance Facility. She’s been with Washington State Ferries for three years.

While she’s based at our Eagle Harbor welding shop, you can find her working across our system – repairing what needs to be fixed, including rolling gates on our vessels and the vehicle transfer span at our terminals.

“Welding is like quilting, where you need to assess what you will do and how you will do it,” she said. “Cut up a section, make a pattern from that and fit it in. Weld it up and make sure its airtight. Make sure there’s no leakage whatsoever.”

Our boilermakers have a tough job as some projects can take overnight to repair. So, one must be creative, be able to think on the fly and open-minded to new ideas from other team members. It’s also one of the many important jobs in our agency that help keep our system running.

“Everybody here and all the crafts, we’re the ones that have to make sure that these boats are running when they don’t because there are people relying on us,” said Wendy.

She said going to different places, meeting different people around our system and seeing orca whales are huge perks.

“This is a great job,” Wendy said. “Everybody’s got extreme talent and they’re really good people to work with. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Wendy’s son passed away two years ago, but she celebrates his memory every year. She has recently picked back up her hobbies of sewing, making dollhouses, reading books and creating resin art.

View a video profile of Wendy.

Watch video of all-staff webinar; public meetings coming up

We had our first quarterly all-staff webinar of 2023 on Jan. 10. If you missed it, we posted a video online. Due to a technical error, the very beginning of the meeting did not record.

Most of the meeting was devoted to answering employee questions. You can submit a question anytime to: wsfemployeecomms@wsdot.wa.gov

We’re hosting two virtual community meetings for the public at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 11, and 6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 12. If you’re interested in tuning in, advanced registration is required. The day after each meeting, a video recording will be available online on our community participation webpage.

Ferry employees provide inspiration for artwork

Over the holidays, Marine Inspector Specialist Kenny Douglas received a special ferry-themed gift from his significant other.

It was a laser etched lamp of a Jumbo Mark II-class ferry made by a local artist Andy Yeckel, founder and art director of Kingston-based and family-owned Alpha Channel Design.

Person holding up a lamp with a ferry laser engraved into acrylic with a Christmas tree in the background
Marine Inspector Specialist Kenny Douglas holds up his holiday gift of a Jumbo Mark II-class ferry laser etched lamp.

Andy says that inspiration for the lamp was a lifetime of appreciation for Washington State Ferries and the people who run them.

When asked for more details about his interest in our vessels, him and his father John responded with:

“Our family moved here from Colorado 35 years ago. We settled on Bainbridge. The ferries were magical. Every time we drove to our house, we could see them sailing in Rich Passage. We would stop and watch them go by. We did this for years. Now our grandkids have learned to work the vessel tracker to see when another ferry is coming.

“I commuted to Seattle and enjoyed the ever-changing views in the morning and at night. Great commute. Years ago, we met a guy that was just starting his career as a deckhand. Over the years, he went up in the ranks and fulfilled his dream to be a ferry captain. I saw him after he retired and asked if he enjoyed his career.

“‘Best job in the world,’ he said. ‘They let me run this beautiful vessel.’

“For all of us who depend on the boats, ferries have become an integral part of our lives. I’ve seen weddings on board, more than one. Years ago, there would be assorted musicians playing as we crossed. The ferry boat musicians with their Celtic/sea shanties were my favorites.

“We have a lot of visitors here that come to Seattle for the Alaskan cruise. The first trip on a ferry is to Bainbridge. We created these items that they can take with them to remember the views, the sounds and experience of this wonderful place we call home.

“Besides, ferries are cool.”

From Our Social Media Feeds

Tweet with most impressions (times it shows up in somebody's timeline) on @wsferries Twitter account in the month of December:

Screenshot of tweet that reads, "Today severe weather is impacting our service. Service has been suspended on the #SeattleBremerton route and #PortTowsendCoupeville route. We are operating one boat service on the #FauntleroyVashonSouthworth route, #SeattleBainbridge #EdmondsKingston, #MukilteoClinton"

What’s Up at WSDOT?

Gov. Jay Inslee’s proposed budget (PDF 52KB) includes a $1,000 incentive payment for fully vaccinated employees who voluntarily receive COVID-19 booster vaccines.

It is important to note that this incentive is not guaranteed until the Legislature passes the state budget and Gov. Inslee signs it into law, which is not expected until late spring 2023.

Later this month, information will be provided to employees who have received the COVID-19 booster on how to voluntarily document their booster(s) in order to receive the incentive payment.

This will be done similar to the vaccine verification process, through the Med+Proctor website. Employees should NOT provide documentation to their supervisor as Med+Proctor will be used for all WSDOT verifications regarding the COVID-19 vaccine and boosters.

Employees will have all of 2023 to upload their booster verification to Med+Proctor to receive their incentive payment. If the incentive is approved as part of the 2023-25 budget, it would appear in July 25 paychecks, or later if an individual’s verification is provided after July.

Welcome Aboard!

Recent engine room hire:

  • Rumaldo Hernandez

Recent Eagle Harbor hire:

  • Ricardo Gutierrez

We’re Hiring!

Current job openings at WSF:

In the News

Employees in the news in December:

Nautical Numbers

Here are some numbers that recap what we did in December:

1,227,066 total riders

  • 628,793 drivers (with vehicle)
  • 598,273 passengers and walk-ons

11,390 trips completed

63,645 service miles

99.3% trip reliability

190 medical priority loads/medevacs

3 lifesaving events

109 whale sightings (106 of them were orcas)

Have an idea for this employee newsletter? Email WSFEmployeeComms@wsdot.wa.gov.

Traction tires are a special type of tire

manufactured with at least 1/8 of an inch tread. Traction tires are usually marked with a mountain/snowflake symbol, the letters M+S or “All Season.”

Carry chains, practice before leaving

Requiring chains keeps traffic moving during storms rather than closing a pass or roadway.

Prep your car. Fill up your gas tank,

pack jumper cables, ice scraper, warm clothing, snacks and water.