Ferry Workers Fight to Keep 'Vomit Pay'

Washington state senator says it's an unfair perk
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 22, 2011 2:20 PM CDT
In this photo taken on June 28, 2009, a ferry transports passengers to one of the four San Juan Islands serviced by the Washington State Ferries.   (AP Photo/Carey J. Williams)

(Newser) – Washington state Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen thinks it’s time to get rid of a benefit long enjoyed by the state’s ferry workers: cleaning up puke. Thanks to the so-called “vomit clause” in workers' contracts, they get paid double-time whenever they have to mop up after a hurling passenger, the Herald reports. “That’s one that really stuck in my craw,” says Democrat Haugen. “We certainly don’t give overtime to some prison guard who cleans up after an inmate.”

The state’s ferry workers have been under fire lately, thanks to a string of stories accusing them of finding ways to rack up massive overtime hours and pad their income. But they say the vomit controversy is overblown. Workers get extra pay for doing dirty, hazardous work, like cleaning the bilges, pumping sewage, or occasionally mopping vomit. “That is in there for a reason,” says one union representative. “We have to clean it up and smile about it.” (Read more vomiting stories.)

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