One of my favorite axioms, attributed to St. Francis of Assisi, is "Preach the gospel always, and if necessary use words." It reminds me that actions speak louder than words. Put another way, many of us talk the talk, but fail to walk the walk. I was thinking about this the other day while attending a union meeting to discuss the Palin administration's ongoing negotiations with state supervisors.
This governor ran on the platform that she was the candidate of integrity and fairness. She promised that her policy decisions would be all about putting Alaskans first. Well that's the talk, but how's her walk? Have her actions as the state's chief executive officer fulfilled her campaign promises of integrity and fairness? Let me offer my perspective as an 18-year employee of the state, with 16 years supervisory experience.
The state's supervisory personnel have been working without a contract since July 2007. The state's latest offer was to ask its supervisors to accept a 4-4-3 contract without making increases retroactive to July. Does that sound fair? Now you may say that a 4-4-3 increase is better than the last two contracts. This is true. Keep in mind, however, that under previous administrations, state supervisors were asked to "share the pain" of difficult financial times.
While the state suffered through years of budget deficits, supervisors repeatedly accepted contracts that were substantially less than annual cost of living increases. Now that the state is flushed with a projected $3 billion surplus, we ask the administration to "share the wealth," and give us back some of our lost earning capacity. Their response? "No!"
Does that sound like the voice of fairness and integrity to you?
Now if someone is not a state employee and doesn't think this issue affects him or her - think again. This administration has been negotiating hard to get a gas pipeline built. The promise to Alaskans was that any deal with the oil companies would have to be pro local hire, and pro organized labor - Alaskans first.
But what if the oil companies offered to throw a few more dollars into the state treasury at the expense of working Alaskans? Where do you think this administration's loyalties would lie? Will it really be Alaskans first?
Judge this administration on how it walks - not what it talks. If this administration won't deal fairly with its own employees, how can anyone think other Alaskans are going to fare any better?
State Program coordinator
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