OLYMPIA – Gov. Jay Inslee signed Sen. Marko Liias’ (D-Everett) legislation to address diversity, equity, and staffing concerns within the Washington State Ferries (WSF) workforce on Tuesday.  

Senate Bill 5550 requires WSF to adopt a formal diversity, equity, and inclusion strategy, and develop an action plan to address issues identified in a newly mandatory annual employee survey.  

It also directs WSF to seek methods to improve workforce development and career advancement for all employees, including developing programs so they can gain maritime credentials and pilotage.  

“Washington State Ferries is facing dire staffing shortages and we must do what we can to attract people to the workforce,” Liias said. “We have an exemplary team working in our ferry system and this bill will attract even more qualified workers. By implementing a plan to empower more diverse communities to seek these careers, we can begin to address our workforce shortages, but more importantly, we will foster a workforce that looks like the communities it serves.”  

SB 5550 goes into effect on July 23, 2023.