Assembly right to postpone layoffs

Posted: Thursday, January 21, 2010

I applaud the members of the Juneau Assembly who have decided to slow down the possible decision to lay off city employees as a solution to the budget shortfall. It is always easy to target this large portion of the budget - personnel cost - because it would make a large dent in closing the gap.

Postponing a negotiated raise is sold as spreading the pain, but cutting into all employees' take-home pay does nothing to boost the local economy. City employees spend money in Juneau and pay sales taxes right along with visitors.

I urge the Assembly to not focus on the easy target, but to make the hard choices and consider what services the city should be eliminating or modifying in order to live within the available resources. I support the members of the Marine Engineers Beneficial Association, who stood in solidarity and demanded to have their contract honored. A deal is a deal.

Collective bargaining is a right that was gained through the sacrifice of many, and we are a better nation and community because of it. I urge non-union employees to thank their unionized co-workers who go the bargaining table every few years and negotiate wages and working conditions that they then benefit from as well.

It is interesting that there has been no mention of how much of this raise will be eaten away by increases in health care cost for those same employees. I am sure 3 percent is not going to move anyone into a life of luxury here in Juneau, one of the most expensive urban communities to live in the state.

Mary Graham


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