State's contract offer to supervisors is unacceptable

Posted: Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Palin administration recently made a revised contract offer to the state supervisory employees' union. The previous offer was a 4 percent, 3 percent, 3 percent increase over three years beginning July 1, 2007. The revised offer includes similar terms, but no increase for July 1-Sept. 30, 2007. It also requires an additional 2.5 work hours per week, but pays for only one extra hour.

The administration's reasoning is apparently that many supervisors already work the 2.5 extra hours. This logic is perplexing. Because supervisors voluntarily worked extra hours for free, the administration now wants to require the extra work, but pay for less than half of it?

Looking a gift horse in the mouth is bad enough, but this administration wants an extra horse at half-price. The fact is, many supervisors have worked far more than 2.5 free extra hours a week.

Many state positions are vacant because wages are not competitive. The work still needs to be done, though, and supervisors often take up the slack. Perhaps supervisors have been foolish, working all those extra hours for nothing. This offer certainly makes it seem so. But if the administration has no gratitude, does it really want to penalize supervisors for their extra efforts?

As for the "4 percent, 3 percent, 3 percent" part of the offer, this was woefully inadequate to begin with. According to the Washington Post, the Consumer Price Index rose by 4.1 percent in 2007. To give this some real-life perspective, the cost of food increased by 4.9 percent in 2007, and fuel by 17.4 percent.

Oil hovers around $100 per barrel, and revenues are at an all-time high, yet the administration does not try to make up for the 40 percent loss in state employee buying power over the past 22 years. Instead, it would like its employees to take yet another loss this year, and another next year, and the year after that.

Enough is enough. The administration needs to stop and regroup. Its proposals are headed in completely the wrong direction. With the aging workforce and imminent retirement of many workers, the state needs to be a competitive employer now more than ever. The union's offer should be accepted. It's fair, it's reasonable, it will help put the state back on the map as a competitive employer, and it's in the state's best interests.

Joanna McDowell

Juneau



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