I'm one of the 44 Juneau ferry workers whose jobs Gov. Frank Murkowski is gift wrapping to send to Ketchikan. It's been a week since we wrenched this news out of an administration that shuns public scrutiny. That week has afforded me some perspective.
Here's what I predict: The governor will continue to pull state jobs from Juneau and bequeath them to communities he wishes to reward. Few people will see this happen, as most jobs will leave in small, inconspicuous increments. The governor wants it that way.
The governor will continue to privatize any state jobs he can. Privatized jobs mean the same work will be performed but the people performing it will receive low wages and poor or no benefits. These people become the working poor. Again, the erosion of good jobs into minimum wage jobs will be slow and incremental. The governor doesn't want you to notice.
The governor is currently negotiating new contracts with most state workers' unions. He's approaching the task with a single guiding principle: Break the backs of the unions by any means possible. He'll have some success. State workers will receive reduced wages and benefits, fewer rights and less job security. Juneau will slowly become economically depressed. Jobs creeping out of town, low-paying jobs and less job security mean a less prosperous community for everyone.
Is this the future you want for Juneau? No matter what your politics, no matter if you voted for him, it's time to come together and oppose Frank Murkowski. Systematically destroying a community is not what a governor should do.
What can you do to stop this? First, refuse to be a victim. Then, take action - any action. Open up the phone book, look under "Alaska State of" and start making some calls. If you're a state employee, prepare now to go on strike rather than accept an inadequate contract offer. Cut a few extras out of your budget, and put a few dollars aside. If you're a registered voter, it's time to visit recallmurkowski.com.
All that it takes for evil to triumph is for a few good people to do nothing. Frank Murkowski is counting on you to do nothing. Surprise him.
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