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State’s largest teachers union voices its support for Kodiak crabbers

Vessels tied up in Kodiak’s St. Paul Harbor, Jan. 17, 2023 (Brian Venua/KMXT)
Vessels tied up in Kodiak’s St. Paul Harbor, Jan. 17, 2023 (Brian Venua/KMXT)

The National Education Association’s Alaska chapter is standing with Kodiak crabbers. That’s according to a letter from NEA-Alaska President Tom Klaameyer to the president of the Kodiak Crab Alliance Cooperative, Luke Lester, and it’s the first statewide organization to formally back the fleet amid price negotiations with local seafood processors.

NEA-Alaska represents 11,000 public school employees in the state; in his letter, Klaameyer said the union supports the crabbers’ “fight to secure a fair price,” and is standing with the fleet “in solidarity until this fight is over.”

Kodiak’s Tanner crab fishery opened on Sunday, Jan. 15 – 193 vessels, including 128 from Kodiak, 14 in Chignik, and 51 from the South Peninsula, are registered for this season, but all of them have been standing down, saying Kodiak canneries’ offer of $2.50 per pound for Tanners ahead of this season was unfair.

On Friday, Kodiak Crab Alliance Cooperative members voted down processors’ latest offer of $3.25 per pound. The group is set to meet again Sunday, Jan. 22.

The cooperative has also been in talks with processors out west – in Dutch Harbor and King Cove – which have been paying more per pound for Tanners, or including profit sharing as part of their offers.

Processors in Kodiak either declined to comment or did not respond to multiple requests for comment last week.