State warns striking ferry workers about health coverage

    Juneau, Alaska (AP) - The state is warning it will not pay health insurance premiums for striking ferry workers if the work stoppage goes past Thursday.

    Members of the Inlandboatmen's Union of the Pacific went on strike Wednesday after failing to reach agreement with the state on contract terms, bringing Alaska's ferry system to a halt.

    State transportation Commissioner John MacKinnon says the department canceled reservations for more than 3,000 travelers as of early Friday.

    He says about 225 passengers and about 90 vehicles had been stranded in ports that aren't their final destination. He noted this is a peak travel time and that other options, including planes and barges for vehicles, often have limited space.

    The union, in a statement, said its officials are ready to talk "when a settlement is within reach."

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