'Mistaken for management'

Letters to the editor

Posted: Monday, February 26, 2001

If you were to put on your thinking cap and speculate about status of the many state employees, what job classes would you guess are most likely to make a killing on airline frequent flier miles; clerks and paper pushers in the General Government Unit (GGU) represented by the Alaska State Employees Association (ASEA), or supervisors, middle management and elected officials?

When freshman Anchorage Rep. Andrew Halcro introduces a bill to cut this employment perk for mostly management employees and possibly privileged decision makers such as himself, who should care the most - ASEA members, or managers?

In its recent story about concerns detailed by mostly management presenters on this matter before the House State Affairs Committee, the Empire quoted one opponent as Alaska Public Employee Association (APEA) Business Manager Bruce Ludwig, who appropriately whined about difficulties already experienced in attracting quality supervisory and classified employees to be represented by his union. By contrast, Fairbanks-based ASEA Business Agent Kathy Dietrich spoke from the perspective of GGU employees who would in the main take years to accumulate enough frequent flier miles to get a free trip out of town. However, in that story Ms. Dietrich was misidentified by the Empire as being a business agent of APEA.

In 1988 the state's GGU workers broke out of APEA and formed ASEA rather than have the same supervisors who called the shots in the workplace also serve as their bargaining unit's collective voice in contract negotiations and public policy issues. Ms. Dietrich was once a member of APEA and is now the most senior staff member in ASEA. She was Laborers' Union negotiator for the latest staff collective bargaining agreement (CBA) negotiations against ASEA, and most recently she was part of the team that negotiated the current ASEA CBA against the Knowles Administration, with Business Manager Chuck O'Connell, as the spokesman.

ASEA members, you may take off your thinking cap now: After all these years as your employee, why is Ms. Dietrich easily mistaken for management whenever she says anything?

Donn Liston


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